In Gujarat, Diwali is associated mostly
with the worship of Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth. It is believed that
Lakshmi on this day emerges to bring prosperity to the world. Lakshmi puja
in Gujarat lasts for five days, which starts with Dhanteras. The fourth day,
or the day of Govardhan Puja is Gujrati's New Year's Day
Lakshmi is believed to visit the homes that are well lit. So, families
decorate their houses with light, flowers and paper chains.
The markets of Gujarat liven up almost a whole month in advance for Diwali
shoppers; from Jewelery; clothes; sweets; gift articles; shoes; etc to fire
crackers; every thing is in demand and plentiful in supply. It's a mad
frenzy of shopping everywhere, in the days leading up to the festival.
Gujaratis start celebrations on the night before Diwali by creating designs
- usually depicting nature or the gods - from natural powder colors in
verandas. These are called "rangoli" and are supposed to welcome
Goddess Lakshmi to the house. In a way they are a means of competition and
pride amongst their creators. Also, small footprints are drawn with rice
flour and vermilion powder all over the houses.
On Diwali day the clothes worn are usually Jhabba (kurta)-dhotis or
Jhabba-legengas for the men, while the women are in saris. A visit to the
temple is customary. The day is spent preparing food and sweets. Shops are
open, but business comes to a halt on Dhanteras, two days before Diwali, and
doesn't resume until Labh Pancham, the fifth day of the new year. For
traders and businessmen, this is the time for a vacation. Diwali evening is
celebrated by lighting up streets and markets, and bursting crackers.