|Diwali Celebration in Bihar|
Like many ancient civilizations, the way of life in Bihar is clustered around its magnificent rivers. Few rivers of the world have molded the culture, economy and personality of the people evolving on their banks as has the great river Ganga. In Bihar, the celebration of Diwali starts two days before the actual Diwali as dhanteras, celebrated in honor of Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods. He is believed to have emerged with a pot of amrita during the samudra manthan.
On Dhanteras, new kitchen utensils are bought and kept at the place of worship. The buying of utensils, according to one theory, relates to the myth of Dhanvantari emerging from the ocean with a pot in his hand. People bathe early in the morning and observe a fast, which is broken only after sunset with sweetmeals, puri and other delicacies.
The day before Diwali is celebrated as Choti Diwali or 'small Diwali'. It is Diwali on a smaller scale, with fewer lights lit and fewer crackers burst. The morning after Choti Diwali, the women of the house make beautiful, colored rangoli in the doorway and courtyard. Tiny footprints made out of rice paste are a special feature of the rangolis made for Diwali. They signify the footprints of Lakshmi, as she enters the house.
Songs in honor of the deities are sung and aarti is performed. Oil or ghee diyas are also lit. The gods are offered kheel, batashe and khilone and various sweetmeals. After the puja, the diyas are placed in and around the house: on the doorway, near the Tulasi plant, in the backyard, in every room and at the back and front gates. After this, crackers are burst, and people meet friends and neighbors to exchange good wishes and sweets.
The adivasis of Bihar worship kali on this day. Eating unripe coconut and taking a beetle is considered auspicious. In chota nagpur, the men circumbulate their village with basket full of paddy and grass. A week after the festival of lights, is the festival Chhath. For one night and day, the people of Bihar literally live on the banks of the river Ganga when a ritual offering is made to the Sun God.