In most of parts of the country Diwali is all about lighting earthen diyas, splurging on jewellery and clothes, spending quality time with family and friends, enjoying all kinds of sweets and savouries and bursting crackers. But many may not be aware of the unique Kannadiga practices during the festival.
Deepavali traces its roots to two Sanskrit words, 'deepa' meaning 'light' and 'avali' which means 'row' signifying the rows of diyas that usually adorn houses during the festival.
It is a time when the auspicious is invoked through light during the winter month of Kartik, for three days of which one is a new moon night.
It begins with cleaning one's house, an oil bath and dressing up with new clothes on the first day, Naraka Chaturdashi. A rangoli, grander than one made during other festivals, is drawn and worshipped with kunkuma and arishina. Come dusk, lamps are lit all around the home compound and also around the tulasi plant.
"Both the rangoli and lamps are to welcome Lakshmi into the house and keep way demonic forces," says N S Lalithamma, a septuagenarian and resident of Mathikere.
The second day, which is amavasya, is the day of Lakshmi puja, where often a coin is symbolically worshipped.
On Bali Padyami, the last day, one pays obeisance to Bali Chakravarti, the demon king who, as legend has it, was forced to the nether worlds by Vamana, an avatar of Vishnu.
"One of the male members of the household has to make three small cones of cow dung and place a marigold on top," adds Saraswathi, a Kannadiga residing at Jayanagar, explaining that two of the pillaris, as they are called, are placed on either side of the front door while the third finds its place at the centre of the rangoli.
While these cow dung cakes are suggestive of a sacrifice for some, they represent Lord Ganesha for others.
"As it's Ganesha, we use kakra flowers instead of marigold (which are otherwise used to garland the dead)," says Pramila, who has lived in the city for over six decades. "We also fix 11 or 21 blades of garike (a variety of grass)."
Pramila adds that, in her family, in the evening a kalasha is worshipped. "Everyone then pours milk into the kalasha and we throw flowers into the air, calling out, 'honnu, honnu, honnu' for prosperity," she says.
On each of the three days, celebration with crackers is supposed to begin only after the pujas. As Goddess Lakshmi is expected to visit, according to tradition, the front door cannot be closed and the house cannot be left empty.
(Inputs from A Sharadhaa)