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Diwali in and with India
October 19, 2014, 3:38 pm
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Best places to be in India for a dazzling Diwali

If you are wondering what to do for this year's Diwali celebration, check out these top destinations and ideas for a memorable time.
Jaipur: Admire the illuminated markets

Much of the beauty of Diwali comes from the warm glow of lights and lamps which adorn streets, homes, and shops. One of the best places to experience this is in the ‘pink city’ of Jaipur, in Rajasthan, where not just buildings but whole markets are illuminated. Each year, there is a competition for the best decorated and most brilliantly lit-up market, and the government foots the electricity bill. It is a dazzling display that attracts visitors from all over India. Just like Las Vegas has a ‘Strip’, JohariBazaar has earned the title of ‘The Strip’ in Jaipur during Diwali.

Goa: Go gaming and watch demon Narakasuraget burned

In Goa, the focus of Diwali celebrations is on the destruction of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Competitions are held in every village and city to see who can make the biggest and scariest effigy of the demon. Some are really huge! They are burned at dawn on NarakasuraChaturdashi, the day before the main day of Diwali. Betting is also a popular activity during Diwali; you might want to try your luck at one of Goa's top casinos. However, make sure you book well in advance for the floating casinos, as they are very popular at this time of year.

Varanasi: See fireworks over the Ganges River

Varanasi is a crazy place at any time of year, but it becomes even more so during Diwali with a constant stream of firecrackers and fireworks going off all night long. For the best experience, make sure you stay at one of the riverside hotels in Varanasi, so you have a fabulous view of the fireworks over the Ganges. Other highlights are the special Ganga Aarti, ghats illuminated with candles, diyas (earthen lamps) that are floated down the river, and procession of Hindu deities through the streets.

Amritsar: A sacred and golden Diwali

You may be surprised to learn that although Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, is predominated by Sikhs, Diwali is celebrated in a grand way there too. The occasion has been incorporated into the Sikh religion and is particularly significant because it also marks the return from prison of the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib, in 1619. He had been unjustly held for his beliefs, along with many other political prisoners who he helped free. What is more, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid on Diwali, in 1577. Expect to see a mesmerizing display of fireworks over the Golden Temple. The Temple complex is also draped in lights, and the edge of the lake fringed with countless oil lamps and candles, lit by devotees.

Mumbai: Go to the cinema and hunt for bargains

If you feel like having a low-key Diwali, why not go and see a new release movie? Many big-name Bollywood movies are released in time for Diwali. You will usually find cinemas inside the malls, where shops will be offering plenty of Diwali bargains as well – Diwali is a massive time of the year for shopping in India; just head to any of the many top Mumbai malls. Mumbai's markets are also best explored during Diwali, particularly Crawford Market and Zaveri Bazaar (where people go to shop for gold and jewelry on Dhanteras, the first day of the festival).

Authentic Aspirations of a Globe Trotter: Global Diwali
Diwali is also celebrated outside of India mainly in Guyana, Fiji, Malaysia, Nepal, Mauritius, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, Britain, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Africa, Australia and the US among the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and in general Indians around the world.

Britain
The Indians are the second largest ethnic minority in Britain. To get rid of the feeling of missing their homeland, especially during festival times, the Indians here celebrate most of the festivals. The occasion is marked by visit to the local temple to worship the shrine of Lakshmi, which isset up for Diwali. Eating special sweets, burning of incense sticks, lighting the home and surroundings and the blowing of the conch shell follows the prayer session in the Lakshmi temple. The festival here is celebrated according to the Hindu calendar hence it falls in the months of October-November, amongst the cold, damp and windy months in Britain. Still the enthusiasm of the festival celebration makes the task of leaving small lamps on windowsills or by open doorways possible ignoring the chill. The lamps and diyas play their part in maintaining the atmosphere of Diwali at home.

Guyana
This northeastcoastal country of South Americadeclared the day of the festival of Diwali as a national holiday in the official calendar of Guyana.The tradition of celebrating the festival is believed to have been brought to Guyana in the year 1853 by the first indentured people from India.The legends related to the festival are similar to that of India. The tradition of wearing new cloth for the people of Guyana is significant especially in this festival. They believe that wearing new cloth is the symbol of healthy souls in healthy bodies.

Indonesia
The name Indonesia came from two Greek words: "Indos" meaning Indian and "Nesos" meaning islands. The majority of population follows Islam. Hindus constituent about two percent of Indonesia's total population. However, the Indonesian island of Bali is famous for celebrating the festival of Diwali, as a majority of the population here are of Indian origins. It is one of the most revered festivals of the locals here in a similar fervor as that of their counterparts in India.

Malaysia
The Hindu community of Malaysia constitutes about eight percent of its total population.The community celebrates Diwali as a symbol of triumph of good over evil. The Malaysian people call Diwali as Hari Diwali. Celebrated during the 7th month of the Hindu calendar,the south Indian traditionof oil bath precedes the festivities. It also includes visits to temples and prayers at household altars. Small lamps made of clay filled with coconut oil and wicks are a common sight to signify the victory of Lord Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana, over the demon king Ravana. Diwali is celebrated almost all over the Malaysia except in Sarawak and Federal Territory of Labuan.

Mauritius
Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean that lies to the east of Madagascar. This beautiful landmass full of picturesque landscapes and enchanting spots accounts for a 63 percent of Indian majority of which 80 percent follow Hinduism. Hence, celebration of almost all the Hindu festivals in this island is a common phenomenon. In Mauritius, Diwali celebration is an age-old tradition. It holds special significance for the natives, who believe that Diwali has been celebrated even long before the return of Lord Rama from 14 years of exile and his coronation as the king.
 

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