The festival of Diwali is celebrated in the state of Goa with much pomp and fervor; in a way symbolic of the cultural diversity and unity of this tiny state where people of different religions and cultures co-exist in perfect harmony and any festival becomes just another opportunity / excuse for everybody to get together to have a jolly good time. The origin of the word Diwali lies in the Sanskrit word Deepavali which literally translates to “array of lights”. The festival is celebrated each year to symbolize the victory of Good over Evil. It marks the return of the Hindu Lord Rama with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman back to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana.
Diwali is ushered with a frenzy of lights, fireworks and merry making. Indian Businesses mark Diwali to be the start of a new financial year, symbolic in a way, of new beginnings. Most businesses also celebrate the festive season with promotions / sales / discounts as it is considered to be the busiest shopping season on the year rivaled only by the crazy Christmas shopping in Goa in December. Longing for a new flat-screen TV or that gorgeous swanky new car, well Diwali is as good a time as any to make purchases at heavily discounted rates.
Diwali is also celebrated as the Festival of Lights and on this day we find houses in Goa decorated in glittering lights with traditional lanterns and children playing with fireworks. It gives one a sense of community, an opportunity to celebrate with friends and family.
However the absolute highlight of the festival in Goa is the tradition of burning the demon God Narkasura on the eve of Diwali. Legend has it that on this day the demon Narkasur who used to terrorize the village was killed by Lord Krishna leading to much celebration. Young boys in the community invariably get together and painstakingly create massive frightening effigies of the demon with grass, hay, paper etc. Making a Narkasur is a big deal. Not to mention highly competitive. There are massive street parades to decide the best effigies and its makers are rewarded with cash prizes. The Narkasur phenomena is unique to the state of Goa and one sees locals and tourists alike lining the streets of Goa to witness this magnificent spectacle of color, music and merry making. The effigies are burnt in the wee hours of the morning to symbolize the victory of good over evil. Many old timers reminisce however that with all the emphasis on the Narkasur, the focus shifts from the actual festival of Diwali celebrated the next day. In fact after the celebrations the previous day, most people are too tired to even celebrate Diwali! Having said that, this tradition unique to the state of Goa is unparalleled with the amount of fun and fervor it generates. Thought you’d like the see what all the fuss was about.