Guajarati’s usually celebrate Diwali as the end of the year. So, the next day is celebrated as Bestu Varas or New Year’s Day. The festive season is celebrated with rangolis, diyas and by worshipping Goddess Lakshmi.
Diwali is one of the most important festivals of Gujarat. While the rest of the country observes Diwali for two to five days, in Gujarat the celebrations can go up to nearly a week. Every other state has holidays either on the main day of Diwali or maybe a day after or before Diwali, but in Gujarat, it is five days of holidays with extensive festivities and celebrations. Gujarat starts its calendar on Diwali, which falls on a new moon in autumn.
Bestu Varas – Gujarati New Year
One exception is the Guajarati’s, who follow Vikrama samvatsaram. According to the of people the month of Karthika or the day after Diwali is the middle day of the year i.e. 6 months have already passed. But some cultures like the Guajarati’s have this day as the first day and the Chaitra month as the middle month.
The day after Diwali is when Gujarat celebrated its New Years, on Govardhan Puja. This day is known as Bestu Varas. This is celebrated o the first day of the new month of Kartik in the New Year, also known as Kartak Sud Ekam in Gujarat. The day begins with welcoming of the new years with the burst of firecrackers at 4 am in the morning. Hindus believe that a new day begins at 4 am or at dawn as opposed to the western belief that a day changes at 12 am midnight. There is custom observed by the young boys in the villages of Gujarat. They collect salt from the evaporated ponds and distribute it to people, calling it ‘sabras’ which means, everyone should taste, as it will bring luck in the New Year.
People visit and wish each other “Nutunvarsh Abhinandan” meaning Happy New Year in Gujarati.
As evident from mythology it is the day when lord krishna relieved the demon narakasura from the earth, lord rama returned victorious to ayodhya. It marks the beginning of a new era for the people of gujarat after narakasura was killed. Diwali is popularly known as festival of lights. The light dispels away the darkness in ourselves and gives us a new ray of hope. The celebration of New Year on the day of diwali can be considered from the philosophical point of view as it gives us hope by driving away the darkness of ignorance for a new beginning and is celebrated with revelation and joy.
In some parts of the Gujarat this day as been observed as “Bali Pratipada”. It is celebrated in honor of the boon granted by Lord Vishnu in his Vaman Avatar to King Mahabali to visit his kingdom each year on this day to see that his people are happy, well fed and satisfied. This was granted as a blessing to Mahabali for his generosity at granting Vaman his wishes to three paces of land. When the Vaman took form of Lord Vishnu and covered the sky and the land with two paces, Mahabali offered his head as the third step asthere was no place left. This made Vishnu happy and granted Mahabali his wish to visit earth every year on this day, before he finally pushed him underground and made him the ruler of the netherworld or ‘patala’.
Hence, only Guajarati’s celebrate Diwali as New Year. Most others either celebrate on Holi or Ugadi.