In West Bengal, Lakshmi puja is
celebrated five days after Dussehra
, on the full moon day
(Purnima). On the following new moon day (Amavasya), coinciding with Diwali,
is worshiped. Kali, the more aggressive form
or the destructive incarnation of Goddess Durga, has a terrifying look. She
destroys all evils. Lamps are lit in her honor, and in return, she promises
a renewal of life and justice on earth.
In West Bengal, it is not Lakshmi puja but Kali Puja which makes the
festival unique. Kali is generally a goddess to be feared rather than
venerated. But, Diwali is also celebrated with great enthusiasm and it is a
time for gaiety and feasting. The houses are decorated and lit with diyas.
Two or even four plantain leaves decorate the entry to the house or
property, with a row of diyas at the doorstep. The entire family gathers
around for Lakshmi puja in the evening.
Diwali Festival stretches over three days, but on Amavasya the final day,
the celebrations and lights are less. The first two festival days are
important, with feasting, drinking, gambling, family gatherings, lights and
fire crackers occupying time from dusk to dawn. In West Bengal, the pious
festive air and not the material goods, mainly marks the occasion. No new
clothes, no new utensils, no new gold. In fact nothing new at all on Diwali
day, as all the shops are shut tight except those selling sweets and fire
crackers. Gifts are limited to sweets and dry fruits.