Diwali is the festival of lights celebrated among the Hindu community across the world. It is celebrated for five days in most parts of India and people worship various Gods and light lamps and enjoy the fire works with friends and family. However, India being a diverse place with many cultures, it is celebrated with varying rituals across many parts of the country.
In Himachal Pradesh, Diwali has a more ethnic flavour to it. During Diwali, the mud walls of the houses are cleaned and painted over with white clay and cow dung.
In the courtyards, a red or black square is painted with coloured clay and decorated with pictures of animals and birds. The walls are decorated with flower garlands.
The house is kept clean and decorated since people believe that during Diwali, Goddess Lakshmi would visit all the houses and would settle down in the house which is kept clean.
There is also a unique ritual associated with Diwali in Himachal Pradesh. Here people paint little vessels called Auloo with clay and decorate it with drawings in red paint. These little vessels are worshipped and then they exchange it with their friends. It is widely believed that exchanging these pots not only strengthens their relationship but also ensures a prosperous year ahead. Many women preserve these auloos for years and years as they are considered auspicious.
Later in the evening, clay lamps are lit and placed on a plank outside the house in memory of the dearly departed ancestors. Later it is time for celebrations and sweets are distributed among friends and family and then it is completed with fire works.