In honour of Lord Rama and Sita, who returned to their kingdom after 14 years of exile, and were guided home by a row of lamps that the people lit to welcome them home; this gusto-filled celebration sees an abundance of lights, traditional sweets, and get-togethers that are marked with fervour and excitement.

A five-day celebration, the first day of Diwali is Dhanteras, an invitation to wealth and prosperity in the house that is welcomed with new utensils. The second day is Naraka Chaturdashi, the day Lord Narakasur was defeated by Lord Krishna.  Then follows Amavasya, the new moon day dedicated to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. The fourth day of Diwali is known as Padwa, and honours the love and mutual devotion between husband and wife, and the last   day  is  Bhai  Duj,  a  celebration  of  a  brother’s  and  sister’s relationship.

You  may  find  yourself  referring  to  Diwali as the festival of flavours instead  of  the festival of lights, and I don’t blame you. Each region has its  own  interpretations  of  myths  and  stories  and all these are woven together  with  a  feast influenced by the local produce of the area. Delhi and Lucknow are famous for kheel batasha (popped rice and hollow sugar candy) to worship Annapurna, the goddess of anna (rice or grain). You will also find a variety of dry fruits in different sweets and savouries across the country, and favourites include mewa bati, kaju, badam or pista katlis, besan ke ladoo, shakkarpare, balushahi and a lot more.

Typically, our Indian celebrations commemorate a tale that is a part of the festival.  And  so  too  with Diwali, you will find the legend of the demon Narakasura  being  slayed  by  Lord  Krishna being played out through burnt effigies,  fruit  crushed  under  foot and Lord Krishna’s favourite meal of poha  (flattened  rice)  with five accompaniments in Goa. In Uttar Pradesh, the auspicious sooran (elephant foot yam) is said to invoke Goddess Lakshmi’s blessings.

To me, the slaying of Narakasura is symbolic of slaying our inner demons that are impediments to our evolution and prosperity.  I hope this Diwali, the light shines bright in each and every one of us as we conquer our inner demons.

The light is within you; all you need to do is ignite the flame.

Happy Diwali!

We invite you to celebrate this auspicious festival with us at an ITC Hotel near you. This year, ITC Hotels invites you to celebrate this auspicious festival with us. WelcomHotel Vadodara brings you the extravagant taste of a festival menu as our Chefs take you on a gastronomic journey at the Dhanteras Buffet on October 17, while Sheraton New Delhi’s Delhi Pavilion offers you a wide assortment of authentic khandani delicacies on October 19.