Diwali has as many stories associated with it, each of which varies in traditions and religions. The most commonly held belief is that Hindu deity, Lord Rama, returned to Ayodhya on this day after 14 years in exile, and to welcome him, his empire lit diyas. In some places, this day also marks the arrival of the Hindu goddess, Kali. Truly embracing the Indian diversity, it comes as no surprise, then, that Diwali is celebrated differently across cultures in our country. By Team T+L

From burning herbal wood to worshipping grains, here are some Diwali traditions that you probably didn’t know about, as curated by Booking.com, one of the world’s leading online travel brand. So while we wait to travel again (when it is safe to do so), why not learn about these destinations and know how different Indian tribes celebrate this special day?

1. Gujarat

 

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Members of the tribal communities of Narmada and Baruch have always cherished their customs and traditions, and Diwali is no different. For them, the 15-day celebration is an indication of good health. To celebrate, the tribes burn wood from different types of trees to create smoke, which is believed to keep them healthy and wealthy. They also light a holy fire and march a procession taking this flame across the villages to prevent evil from invading their habitat. On each day of the fortnight-long festival, the youths perform tribal dances as well.

2. Chhattisgarh

 

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In the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, the three-day-long Diwali is known as Diyari where celebrations begin ceremoniously with the marriage of crops with an idol of Hindu deity, Narayana. It is then followed by filling households with grains. Cattle owners are honoured with liquor on the first day of the celebrations, while shepherds are offered garlands, paddy and khichdi, a local porridge. The tribal communities also perform Gotton Puja to seek divine blessings for good health and protection of their cattle. Moreover, cattle are adorned with garlands while the crop itself is worshipped.

3. Maharashtra

 

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The Thakar tribe of Maharashtra make lamps from the dried parts of a fruit called chibra, which is then placed on a stand made using cow dung. The grain is stored in cane baskets called kangas, and worshipped during this time. The festivities include performing folk dances to beats of dhols while singing ‘Amhi thakar thakar thakar ranachya ga pakhra (‘we are Thakars, the butterflies of the woods’).

4. Uttarakhand

 

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The mountain tribes of Uttarakhand’s Jaunsar-Bawar region celebrate Diwali a month later than most. Called Diyai, this two-day festival takes place on a new moon night. On the night before the Jaunsari Diyai, villagers stay up to worship the local deity. Clusters of deodar sticks called viyati are lit as people sing and dance. The following morning, one or more members from each family visit the houses in the village to enjoy tea and chiwra (beaten rice). Every family also takes offerings of walnuts to the temple, which the village priest then distributes among the crowd that gathers later in the evening. The Jaunsari Diyai also marks a good harvest of rice and mandua (a type of millet), during which the villagers illuminate their fields after the harvest.

5. Odisha

 

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In Odisha, Diwali is marked by paying tribute to one’s ancestors. During Kaunriya Kathi—a ritual performed by the tribal folks of the state—people burn jute stems to create fire as a signal to invite their ancestors requesting for blessings. They believe that their ancestors live in the open sky as the sun begins to move towards the Tropic of Capricorn.

Related: Top 5 Indian Cities You Must Visit To Experience The Best Diwali Celebrations