In Delhi, Diwali festivities start at Dussehra. From then on, as people set
out on a frantic spree of shopping, spring-cleaning, whitewashing and
redecorating, the shops and market places embark on a frenzy of sales and
promotional offers. Market places are festooned with streamers; melas and
fairs crop up everywhere. Many people buy new clothes to wear on Diwali, and
on the day of Dhanteras, traditionally, a kitchen utensil
of some kind is purchased.
On Diwali day, shops in Delhi remain open till the afternoon, believing
that good sales on Diwali day predict a prosperous year ahead. In the
corporate sector, the process of buying and distributing Diwali gifts begins
several days before the big day, and slowly picks up pace. Sweets and dry
fruits are the most common gifts, as are silver coins. But gifts also range
from silver dishes and other household gifts to suit pieces.
Delhi get crowded with shoppers and shopping bonanzas. Around every street
corner can be found the temporary stages for holding the Ramlila -
a dramatic rendition of the story of the Ramayan, which continues
for several evenings, culminating in the defeat of Evil (Ravanna) by Good
(Ram) on the Dussehra Day.
Houses are decorated and on Diwali evening Lakshmi puja is organized. Often
the women of the house do "aarti" to their
husbands, garlanding him and putting a "tika" on
him, while praying for his long life. In some houses, there is a ritual of
immersing a silver coin in a tumbler of milk. The milk is then sprinkled
lightly in the rooms of the house. The Prashad is kept in front of the idol
throughout the night.