Diwali or Deepavali (its Sanskrit name), means â€œfestival of lightsâ€? or â€œrow of lights.â€? It is an Indian and Nepalese festival that takes place each year during the month of October or November. The dates depend and vary according to the lunar calendar. Diwali is also known as Tihar or Swanti and it is celebrated around the world. Some believe that Diwali marks the homecoming of King Rama, while others believe it was the day the goddess Lakshmi was rescued from an evil king.
Whatever your belief is behind this festive celebration, you will undoubtedly find dozens of different ways in which Diwali is celebrated around the world. Celebrations may take place anywhere from courtyards across all countries or in homes around the world, to rented halls, and even on cruise ships! One such cruise is the popular Diwali Cruise, which can leave from a number of places such as New York or Miami, Florida. You can even go a step further and cruise to Indiaâ€™s Rajasthan region.
A huge part of Diwali is the decorations and the feast. Houses are completely redecorated, courtyards are decorated with ‘patterns fashioned from powdered or wet paint, called “rangoli,” doorways of homes are draped with decorative garlands made with golden marigolds and fresh mango leaves called “torans.” And the food? You can expect to indulge in the sweetest sweets, the tastiest porridges and puddings, and dishes made from wheat, lentils and beans. The decorations and food during Diwali is the same for Diwali cruises with some entertainment, performances, and music mixed in to spice things up.
*Below are some of the most popular traditional foods eaten on each day of the festival and what you can expect to eat on a Diwali cruise:
First day of Diwali (6 November in 2007): sheera – a warm fudge-like sweet made with semolina, saffron, cardamom, raisins and nuts – is eaten alongside a spicy black-eye bean curry.
Second day: Some Hindus fast all day, and break their fast at sunset with lapsee, a warm sweet porridge of cracked wheat, sugar and clarified butter.
Third day: kheer – a milky pudding made with rice, rice flakes or sago – is accompanied by spicy urid lentil vada (fritters).
Diwali (9 November in 2007) and New Year’s Day (10 November): Most Indians eat vegetarian food during Diwali, and mixed vegetable curries made with as many varieties of vegetables as possible (which represents year-long bounty), including whole pods of fresh green black-eye beans (which represent longevity) are especially popular. A huge assortment of sweets is an absolute must. Diwali day is spent feasting with the family, and New Year’s Day, visiting all the friends and neighbors. Generous quantities of food are offered to guests, and one is expected to eat everything that’s offered.
The great thing about Diwali is that you can enjoy it as a participant or a spectator. You can take a Diwali cruise to Indiaâ€™s Rajasthan region to tour ancient sites and enjoy other sights in India’s Rajasthan region, and you can also experience the Diwali Festival of Lights up close and personal.
To get more information about Diwali cruises that leave from ports located in the U.S. or for information about Diwali cruise abroad, visit Bollywoodcruises.com or Latitude World Tours. Carnival Cruise Lines is also known for hosting elaborate (and affordable) Diwali cruises.