Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of India’s most celebrated festivals, spreading joy and illumination across the nation. The festival transcends religious boundaries and is observed by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Newar Buddhists. Despite this widespread celebration, there are a few places in India where you’ll be surprised to find no traces of Diwali. These unique destinations offer a different perspective on the festival of lights and are ideal for travelers seeking a quieter and more tranquil experience.
1. Kerala – The Land of Onam: Kerala, with its rich culture and customs, stands out as a state where Diwali is notably absent. The unique traditions of this southern state and its geographical isolation from the rest of India until British colonization have contributed to this absence. Instead, Kerala celebrates Onam with great enthusiasm, featuring elaborate decorations and festive rituals.
2. Melukote, Karnataka – A Day of Mourning: For the Mandyam Iyengar community in Melukote, Diwali serves as a somber reminder of their tragic past. They observe “Naraka Chaturdasi” as a day of mourning, marking the day when Tipu Sultan massacred hundreds of Mandyam Iyengar men, women, and children over two centuries ago. For them, Diwali symbolizes darkness and loss.
3. Bisrakh, Uttar Pradesh – Descendants of Ravana: The people of Bisrakh believe themselves to be the descendants of Ravana, the antagonist of the Diwali story. They venerate Ravana and his connection to their village, making the celebration of his defeat unthinkable.
4. Ponnanapalem, Andhra Pradesh – Superstitions of Death: In Ponnanapalem, a village in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh, the belief that celebrating Diwali brought bad luck persists. Two centuries ago, a baby died of a snakebite and two oxen perished on Diwali day. This led to a ban on Diwali celebrations in the village.
5. Baijnath, Himachal Pradesh – Respecting Ravana: The residents of Baijnath revere Ravana as a devoted follower of Lord Shiva. They believe that celebrating Diwali, which signifies Ravana’s defeat, will invite divine wrath. As a result, Baijnath remains a peaceful getaway during Diwali.
6. Nagaland – A Christian State: Nagaland, primarily a Christian state, does not celebrate Diwali as it is not part of their religious beliefs. While a few regions may witness limited celebrations, the state government has imposed restrictions on firecracker use due to their harmful effects.
7. Kashmir – A Quiet Diwali: Diwali in Kashmir is a subdued affair. Although some Hindus and Sikhs in Srinagar celebrate the festival, the festivities are minimal compared to other parts of the country.
8. Meghalaya – Tribal Simplicity: Diwali is not widely celebrated in the tribal villages of Meghalaya. The peaceful and serene atmosphere in these villages offers a unique Diwali experience for those seeking solitude.
9. Thoppupatti and Saampatti, Tamil Nadu – Protecting Sacred Bats: These villages in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, refrain from celebrating Diwali due to ecological reasons. Fireworks disturb the bats living in the branches of a sacred banyan tree, which villagers worship as part of their tradition. Crackers are unheard of during any village festival.
10. Mandore, Rajasthan – Revering Ravana: In Mandore, it is believed that Ravana married Mandodari. The local Maudgil Brahmins consider Ravana as a son-in-law, and celebrating his defeat and death is against their beliefs.
While these places may not partake in the traditional Diwali festivities, they offer a unique charm and a tranquil escape during the festival. Exploring these destinations allows travelers to experience India’s diversity and witness alternative celebrations that light up these regions throughout the year. So, if you’re seeking a different perspective on Diwali, consider visiting one of these remarkable places where the festival of lights remains a far-off notion.