Diwali in South India commemorates the conquering of the Asura Naraka, a powerful king of Assam, who imprisoned tens of thousands of inhabitants. Finally lord Krishna subdued Naraka and freed the prisoners.
South India Diwali Festival is celebrated in the Tamil month of
aipasi (thula month) 'naraka chaturdasi' thithi, preceding amavasai.
People wake up before sunrise prepare blood by mixing Kumkum in oil
and after breaking a bitter fruit that represents the head of the
demon King that was smashed by Krishna, apply that mixture on their
foreheads. Then they have an oil bath using sandalwood paste.
The preparations begin the day before, when the oven is cleaned,
smeared with lime, four or five kumkum dots are applied, and then it
is filled with water for the next day's oil bath. The house is
washed and decorated with kolam (rangoli) patterns with kavi
(red oxide). In the pooja room, betel leaves, betel nuts,
plaintain fruits, flowers, sandal paste, kumkum, gingelly oil,
turmeric powder, scented powder are kept. Crackers and new dresses
are placed in a plate after smearing a little kumkum or sandal
Diwali celebration in Maharastra
In Maharashtra traditional early baths with oil and "Uptan"
(paste) of gram flour and fragrant powders are a `must'. All through
the ritual of baths, deafening sounds of crackers and fireworks are
there in order that the children enjoy bathing. Afterwards steamed
vermiceli with milk and sugar or puffed rice with curd is served.
After killing the demon Krishna returned home in the very early
morning of the Narakachaturdashi day. The womenfolk massaged scented
oil to his body and gave him a good bath to wash away the filth from
his body. Since then the custom of taking bath before sunrise on
this day has become a traditional practice specially in Maharashtra.
In The Morning: South Indian Diwali celebrations begin early
in the morning. The eldest family member applies sesame oil on the
heads of all the family members. Then, it's off for a bath,
beginning with the youngest in the family. They emerge with new
clothes and a look of anticipation at the thought of bursting
crackers, which symbolizes the killing of the demon king Narakasur.
Murukku: A puja is performed for the family deities in the
morning. Breakfast consists of murukku, a sweet dish.
Wish fulfillment: Some communities believe that when
Narakasur was to be killed, Lord Krishna asked him his last wish.
Narakasura replied that he wanted to enjoy the last day of his life
in a grand manner and Diwali was celebrated. That was the beginning
and the practice continued.
In The Evening: In the evening, lamps are lighted and
crackers are burst.
During Thalai Deepavali, the newly weds go to the bride's parental
home and take blessings from the elders.
South India celebrates Diwali festival with a daylong rituals and a lot of crackers.