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Diwali in Orissa

Diwali is the festival of lights celebrated by Hindu community across the world. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm among people who distribute sweets and light lamps in houses and enjoy the fire works along with friends and family. However , India being such a diverse country, the festival is celebrated with different rituals in different places.

In Orissa, Diwali is celebrated with the usual rituals of bursting fireworks and lighting lamps and sweets. In addition to all this, it has a unique ritual of calling upon the spirits of the ancestors which is not practiced in other parts of the country during Diwali. Tall bamboo poles are erected in front of the houses and an earthen pot with small windows called Handi is tied to this pole with the rope.

After this the earthen lamp is placed inside the pot and then the pot is placed on the top of the pole by pulling the rope. Jute stems are burnt to light up the dark path that the spirits of the ancestors take back to heaven.

In the evening, the members of the household gather together and a rangoli of a sailboat which has seven chambers is made on the ground. Seven items like cotton, mustard, salt, asparagus root, turmeric and a wild creeper are kept on drawing of each different chamber of the sailboat.

Over the central chamber the offerings meant for prasad are kept and a jute stem with a cloth wick tied around the edge is perched over the prasad. It is lit at the beginning of the puja. Then all the members of the family hold a bundle of jute stems in their hands. Beside the rangoli, a mortar and pestle and a plough are also kept and worshipped.

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