The word Deepavali means a row of lights – an apt name for a festival that is celebrated all over India in many ways, but all of them involving a lot of light.

In Tamilnadu, the lighting of clay lamps symbolises the victory of good over evil. The story of Lord Krishna destroying the demon Narakasura is told over and over again. It is said that Narakasura made the request to the Lord that the day of his death be celebrated with new clothes, sweets and lights.

In the old days, hot water for a bath was heated in a copper heater with coals. All the vessels used for a bath would be washed and polished the day before, and decorated with chunambu, kumkumam and manjal. On the day of the festival, all members of the family would wake even a little before dawn, and light one round of crackers (the well-loved oosi pattasu, which is no longer available)

They would then be made to sit on decorated manais (wooden seats) and an elder lady of the house would apply oil on their heads, bless them and give them their new clothes. After the ceremonial bath, everyone would wear their new clothes and rush out to light crackers and other fireworks.

Back at home, the legiyam ritual would follow – a digestive concoction made at home, which would ostensibly help in digesting all the sweets that would follow. Visiting elders, and entertaining visitors, exchange of sweets would complete the holiday spirit.

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Last scanned on:
2013-05-07 03:45:31