Diwali A Blend Of North-South Culture: Vinod Agarwal, Retired IAS Official

In an informal interaction with Sakshi Post, former Special Chief Secretary of Telangana, Vinod Kumar Agarwal described the traditional manner in which his family celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights. The retired IAS official pointed out that the festival marked the triumph of good over evil. In their family, Agarwal recalled Diwali was celebrated over a period of 5 days with great fervour.

Vinod Agarwal revealed that he hailed from a business family from the Agarwal community and the festival therefore, held great significance for them. His family, originally from Mathura in UP, had moved to Hyderabad more than 90 years ago and resultantly, some local influences also crept into their Diwali celebrations, he pointed out.

The former senior civil servant observed that they celebrated Diwali over 5 days, beginning with Dhanteras, which was marked by worship of Dhanvantri (the god of medicine) as well as Kuber (the Lord of wealth). He recalled how in his childhood, they would celebrate the second day which is known as Roop Chaturdashi or Naraka Chaturdashi (marking the slaying of demon Narakasura). Vinod Agarwal said that apart from distributing and eating a lot of savouries, a light would be lit for ancestors, and placed in a very high place and was called Akash Deep. Similarly, a lamp would also be placed near the gutter to ward off Lord Yama (the God of death).

The third day which marked Diwali, the festival of lights was an occasion for worship of Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kuber, and Nava Grahas, and was a festive occasion on which one spent time with family and friends. The following day begins with a visit to the temple and is incidentally, the beginning of the New Year for Gujaratis. It is a day on which one respectfully greets elders, apart from meeting friends and relatives. The fifth day marks the festival of Bhai Dooj, which brings brothers and sisters together, just as Raksha Bandhan does.

Vinod Agarwal, a treasure-trove of knowledge has a wealth of information to share on the scriptural context of each day, as we see in this interaction with Sakshi Post.

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