The country celebrated Diwali on 26th October, but there are some places in Himachal Pradesh where the festival of lights is celebrated almost a month later. Reason? Locals believe the news of Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya reached late in these parts.
Diwali traditionally celebrates the triumph of good over evil and is widely believed to mark the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after vanquishing the demon king Ravana. However, in some pockets of Himachal Pradesh, the festival is locally known as Buddhi Diwali (or dark Diwali).
This time the celebrations will start Nov 25 (‘amavasya’, new moon day or the dark fortnight of a lunar month).
Buddhi Diwali is mainly celebrated in Ani and Nirmand in Kullu district, Shillai in Sirmaur district and Chopal in Shimla district. It’s considered a festival of animal sacrifice.
During the three-day festival, locals dance and sing folklores related to the epic Mahabharata. It’s also associated with the battle of the Mahabharata as it is said to have started on the first day of Buddhi Diwali.
In Kullu district, the festival is celebrated to commemorate the killings of demons Dano and Asur who resided there in the form of snakes. Hundreds of goats, sheep and buffaloes are sacrificed. Animal sacrifice is an important ritual. The sacrifice of reared livestock ensures round-the-year prosperity and protection from natural calamities.
As per the tradition, villagers take animals to a nearby temple where the sacrificial ceremony is performed on ‘amavasya’. The severed heads are offered to the gods and deities and each animal’s body is taken home for cooking. The feast is shared among villagers. However, whether animal sacrifice is ethically correct or not is a different issue altogether.
People celebrate by dancing amid the beating of drums, playing of trumpets and chanting of mantras to appease the gods.