Diwali in Olden Days of Mewar
Diwali has been one of the most important festivals for Udaipurites. The rulers of Mewar, and those of other princely states of Rajasthan used to celebrate this festival with great gusto and spend lavishly to make it a highly pleasing experience.
Diwali has been one of the most important festivals for Udaipurites. The rulers of Mewar, and those of other princely states of Rajasthan used to celebrate this festival with great gusto and spend lavishly to make it a highly pleasing experience. They would hold special Durbars on the occasion where the Courtiers presented ‘nazars’ to the Maharana. New persons were appointed and promotion orders of those already in service were issued.
Weeks before Diwali, makers of earthen pot got busy making ‘dias’ that lit up the whole city including the Rajmahal. Even the poor farmers living in small huts and other residents lit up their place of abode.
Two days before Diwali, i.e. on Dhan Teras, people in Udaipur would polish their ornaments and then put them and all the cash together and worship these belongings. This was called Laxmi Pujan. A ghee lamp was kept burning for three days continuously. The Maharana would go to the Mahalaxmi Temple and worship there. It is said that on the fourteenth day of the Hindu month of Kartik, the Maharana would gamble with his ‘sardars’. Later on, this tradition declined during the reign of Maharana Shambhu Singh and was completely stopped by Maharana Sajjan Singh.
Further, on this day, Mahalaxmi was offered the Prasad of ‘makhane’ and ‘chapda’ made of sugar and it was distributed among all.
Between Dussehra and Diwali, people would spruce up their houses. On Dussehra, a feast was arranged in the City Palace. In the afternoon a ‘durbar’ was held in Nagina Badi. The terrace of the Palace was lit up and the durbaris present in Darikhana were given sugarcane. When they left, the Maharana would retire to the Zanana Mahal and would play with his sons and brothers.
Sugarcane was sent to the houses of those not present through the ‘chadidars’. In the case of absence of Bedla Sardar, 15 sugarcanes were sent to his residence. If the resident was present in town, he also received sugarcane; some of the employees were given oil, cotton and dias, etc. according to tradition.
On Kartik Shukla the first ‘khekhanra’ was held in the ‘chaugan’ where an idol of the devil, stuffed with bamboo and wood was made. Colorful fireworks were also put in it and then it was covered with paper. People of the town gathered to watch the ‘tamasha’.
In the evening, the Maharana would arrive there to watch the elephant fight and horse race and then hit the body of the devil. On this day, there was distribution of Prasad in the temples also.
A Goverdhgan was made with cow-dung on the ground outside the Toran pol and was crushed with the feet of the cows of Zenani Diodi. The biggest celebration called Annakoot was held at Nathdwara. In the temple, a huge amount of boiled cereals and sweets was offered and it was looted by Lodha Bhils as they had helped Maharana Rajsingh in protecting the idols of Shrinathji and Dwarkanathji.
Yam Dwitha was celebrated on the second day of Kartik Shukla second when sisters used to invite their brothers to their houses for meals. According to Purana, Yamraj went to his sister Yamuna and had meal there. On this day, “dawaat-pujan”( worshipping ink) is also held.
In the month of Kartik, a large number of lamps were lit in temples than on the other days. There was more lighting on Kartik Shukla which is called Dev Diwali.
On this occasion people went to the water bodies to have a dip and they also fasted. At night, they listened to Kartik Mahatam Katha. A big fair used to be held at Pushkar near Ajmer where camels, horses and bulls were traded in large numbers.
Such traditional, fascinating customs have now aged and have been replaced by modern boisterous festivities by town people.