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Article: Little Rituals Part III : Deepavali - Daybreak

Little Rituals Part III : Deepavali - Daybreak

As dawn breaks on the day of the festival, the house fills with golden light. Faces glow with excitement and the new silks appear radiant, the colours more vivid in the early morning sun. Laughter and voices ring through the air, as the family gathers together for the final Little Rituals before they begin Deepavali celebrations in earnest.

This Deepavali is extra special for the eldest daughter of the family featured in our story, as she gets to wear her very first kanjivaram. Her grandmother helps her drape the sari, as she delights in its colours, motifs and classic beauty. This is an occasion that she — like many other young women — has looked forward to with great excitement, feeling connected to all the generations of women in her family for whom the kanjivaram has been a treasured heirloom.

Dressed in their new silks, the girls and women add last minute finishing touches to their festive outfits - jewellery, pottus and fresh flowers. They wear traditional hair ornaments like rakodis, or weave jasmine buds into their neatly braided hair, with kunjalam tassels at the ends. In our photo story, the grandmother of the family helps her eldest granddaughter - gently combing and plaiting her hair, adding fragrant mallipoo to the end, and helping her with her necklace. Perhaps reminiscing about the time she wore her own first kanjivaram sari, the grandmother is filled with emotion at the sight of her granddaughter all dressed up. 

Once the family is all dressed up in their Deepavali best, the lehiyam (herbal digestive) prepared the night before is served to them. The elders roll the lehiyam into tiny spheres, like laddoos, and might wrap them in betel leaves to aid digestion. With this, the family is ready for the day's feasting!

As the sun ascends in the sky, preparations begin for the bakshanam - traditional Deepavali sweets and savouries. Big pots of oil are heated to fry crispy ulundu vadais and sweet suyyams, and delicious smells waft through the house. Murukku, ribbon pakoda, adhirasam and other family favourites are also laid out. Every household in South India has its own unique repertoire and recipes, and no celebration is complete without bakshanam.

The family then gathers to light the traditional brass lamp, offering prayers and singing slokas as the kuthu vilakku is lit. This deepa oli or symbolic lighting of the lamp represents the triumph of light over darkness. The ritual welcomes the Goddess Lakshmi into the home to bless the family with prosperity. The glow of the kuthu vilakku fills the house with a beautiful festive feeling.

The freshly prepared bakshanam, along with the other snacks and sweets, are placed in the puja room as offerings to the gods.
With the morning’s rituals complete, the family—all dressed in their new silks—gathers to enjoy the bakshanam. They sip on cups of hot filter coffee, as the homemade snacks and sweets are passed around, amid laughter and conversation.

The Little Rituals of Deepavali end in joyous celebrations. Having poured themselves into preparations, honouring age-old customs, the household can finally immerse itself in the festivities, spending time with friends and family.

The sari is synonymous with tradition and celebration in South India, entwined with the customs and rituals of Deepavali. Kanakavalli brings you a special festive edition of Perfectly Paired, creating statement combinations of exquisitely embellished kanjivaram and cotton saris paired with beautiful blouse fabric lengths.

Kanakavalli wishes you and yours a very Happy Deepavali! May your hearts and homes be filled with warmth and light.


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