Monday, November 29, 2010

Belize - Paradise has been found in Central America and the Caribbean

Have you ever wondered what paradise looks like? Do you like to look at breathtaking views? Have you ever wondered what it feels like to walk in the past? Do you want to experience Central American and Caribbean culture and cuisines at its very best? Are you looking for adventure? Are you looking for your getaway location? You can find all this and more in Belize with the help of Platinum International Real Estate and Investments who is dedicated to effectively marketing and selling the finest selection of properties in Belize in all price ranges. Platinum International Real Estate is a full serice real estate company whose agents cover the entire country of Belize to include: Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize, Belmopan, Cayo, Stann Creek, Toledo and the island communities of San Pedro-Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Turneffe, St. George's Caye among many other areas around Belize around.

Belize is a small, unspoiled Central American country located on the Western Caribbean coast nestled between Mexico and Guatemala and kissed on her shores by the jeweled waters of the Caribbean Sea. Belize is fast becoming a world renowned destination for tourists and international investors alike. Belize is considered by many of our local and international real estate clients to be the most beautiful and undiscovered spot ideal for vacation and retirement that allows them to enjoy the unique cultural diversity of a Latin American as well as a Caribbean Country, or a place to call HOME. Belize is the ONLY English speaking Central American country due to the historical influences of the British Buccaneers and Colonialists that settled in the country for over a century. It is home to a multi-cultural society made up of Creole, Mestizo, East Indian, Chinese, Lebanese, Garifuna, Maya, and Mennonites just to name a few. Belize's population of approximately 300,000 is a diverse cultural mix of languages and ethnic groups. It is a country rich in culture and tradition and rooted in common beliefs of working together for a strong economy. The Belizean people are very friendly and a simple hello and smile is given everywhere you go no matter who you are or what you do.

Belize consists of approximately 8,866 square miles of land mass and is dotted with 266 square miles of offshore islands. This juxtaposition offers a unique perspective that appeals to everyone from the eco-tourist to the avid water sportsman. People that visit Belize keep coming back to immerse themselves in the rich cultural diversity and the well preserved forests and barrier reef that we call paradise. People enjoy soaking in the cool azure Caribbean waters; taking day trips to its world renowned fishing grounds; snorkeling preservation sites; diving the Great Blue Hole and surrounding waters or taking a hike in the lush protected rain forests that keep the country so serene and steeped in nature. Spelunkers also enjoy the challenge and privilege of being among the few to explore our vast networks of cave systems many of which remain untouched and unexplored. Belize is known for its high concentration of Mayan Temples and meandering rivers - not to mention the exotic wildlife and pristine tropical forests. Inland Belize is a treasure trove of Mayan archaeological temples and ceremonial sites, some of which have remained undiscovered in the jungles for hundreds if not thousands of years. Belize can boast to having the largest unbroken barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere that is also a World Heritage Site, the largest interconnected Cave System in Central America, the only Jaguar Reserve in the entire world, and more than 500 species of birds guaranteed to intrigue bird watchers or nature lovers alike. Belize truly is an Adventurer's Paradise. The pristine offshore waters of Belize nurture the beautiful crystalline white sandy beaches and is the natural habitat of a wide and diverse marine life ecosystem. Divers, snorkelers, marine biologists, and fishermen have come to recognize Belize as one of the best water-sport destinations in the world. Belize is also praised for its dedication to conservation and preservation of the natural environment.

The preservation of such beautiful places in Belize is essential for generations to enjoy even after we move on and leave our legacy behind.

To learn more about Belize, CLICK HERE.

Photos have been used with permission from Olivera Rusu Photography.
To look at some of the magnificent photos, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Belize's Best All Natural Soap with Healing Qualities

Belize is known for many wonderful things and we travelled to San Ignacio in the Cayo District of Belize to find a home based operation that has made ripples in the natural healing, skin beauty, skin health and skin care product world. We would like to introduce you to a soap that we have tried and tested and are happy to report that we do not think we will use any other soap other than the "Rubba Dub Soap". After using this soap we felt relaxed, refreshed and clean.

Rubba Dub Soap Company in Belize was founded in 1998 by a local Belizean entrepreneur, Lidie Allen, who has made this family operation and home based business a nationwide phenomenon. Rubba Dub Soap Company is now exporting their all natural hand made soaps internationally to resorts and individuals who enjoy their natural healing abilities. When asked why she created the company to create all natural soaps she will be glad to tell you that she has met many people who have battled skin conditions like herself. In trying to cure her skin condition and help other people she was keen on creating an all natural soap with all Belize's natural products that had healing qualities. Lidie's husband, Edward Allen, urged her to create the first soaps and helped her to procure the natural ingredients that were necessary. She gave the soaps as gifts to people and finding that the soaps not only helped her with her skin condition but also helped other people, she decided to make it on a larger scale so that others may enjoy their healing abilities. Today during the week you can find Lidie Allen with her sisters Iliana Moreno and Gloria Fearnow busy at work emulsifying oils and creating these one of a kind healing soaps at their home base in the hills of the Cahal Pech area of San Ignacio Town. How fitting it is that the Mayas were the first to use natural ingredients with healing properties.

Rubba Dub Soap Company's handmade/handcrafted natural healing and beauty soaps are specially formulated  to deliver the very best in skin care while using 100% safe and truly natural ingredients that are carefully chosen for their many benefits to include moisturizing, cleansing and soothing capabilities. Some of those ingredients include Cohune, Coconut and Olive oils as well as other essential oils, fragrance oils, herbs, spices and other natural ingredients which remain a secret for infringement purposes. Rubba Dub Soaps make all of their handmade soaps in small batches to ensure the quality of each batch. They hand stir, hand cut and hand wrap every bar. They even make their own wrappers. Every bar of soap is given a long cure period so that when it is finally cured the bar is mild and ready to use. What is amazing is that Rubba Dub ensures that all their soaps remain all natural not using any harmful synthetic chemicals, animal by-product/animal fat, artificial dyes, preservatives, synthetic fragrance oils or detergents.

Many entrepreneurial soap companies in Belize have gone to leaps and bounds to try and copy their secret ingredients but none have come close to matching it. Many of these companies use a natural base but still add synthetic ingredients while still calling it a 'natural' soap. Most commercial soaps on the market today are harsh, dry out and irritate your skin with prolonged use and nearly all skin and body care products are laden with synthetic chemicals we would all be better off not putting on our skin every day.

Rubba Dub Soap Company's natural soaps and healing abilities are:

Cinnamon Spice -  A mild astringent, antibacterial, great for oily skin and for acne. After a hard day of work, it carries cinnamon essential oil as well as orange. Makes you smell clean all day long.

Honey Oat - Has a fine emollient touched with honey and palmarosa, excellent for troubled skin such as, psoriasis, extra dry skin, chicken pox, acne. It is so soft yet effective that even babies can use it.

Lemon Lavender - Carries a touch of lemon grass, lavender, lemon oil, which is a must when you have  a tired and achy body, after a  hard days work , or stressed. Excellent before bedtime.

Herbal Essence - This soap is an antiseptic, is so soothing on sun burnt skin as it has  healing oils such as rosemary, eucalyptus and other herbs which protects the skin in the summer as well as winter. Excellent for mosquito bites and rashes.

Jungle Splash - brings soothing blends of rosemary, geranium , lavender to refresh your body and your mind. When feeling stressed or overworked, bring the jungle to you.

Ginger Burst - An astringent , yet mild enough to soothe your skin and stimulate all your muscles, great to refresh you before a days work.

Soothing Scents - this soap is the best when you simply want to enjoy a scent that is so relaxing and invigorating, yet healing as it carries chamomile, palma rosa and geranium, if you are stressed the essential oils it carries will relax you.

Orange Swirl - So refreshing, rich with vitamin C, it relaxes your muscles , great for circulation. Moisturizes dry scaly skin and scalp.

Tropical Spice - Has such a crisp tropical scent that is invigorating , has chocolate, it leaves a wonderful smooth feeling on the skin, the essential oils it carries is used for muscle spasms, articular aches and pain, yet moisturizes the skin and scalp.

Carribbean Cool - Leaves a feeling of freshness with a minty smell, refreshes you in the hot summer, or at the cayes. It is safe to use on the most intimate parts of your body leaving a feeling of clean and it won't overdry the skin.

Many hotels and resorts in Belize are proudly featuring Rubba Dub soaps. They are not only offering the scents of Belize but also getting guests to relax and truly enjoy their Belizean Experience. The guests of such hotels and resorts have taken soaps back to their native countries to always remind them of their experience in Belize whenever they take a shower or bath and relax using the soothing scents and healing soaps. It's truly an experience worth having that will not only leave your skin feeling clean and healthy but also soft and smooth. If you have not tried a Rubba Dub soap yet you should make every effort to do so. We will never use another commercially produced soap bar again after having tried Rubba Dub Soaps. If you want to find out more or to place an order for your natural healing soaps, contact:
Rubba Dub Soap Company
c/o Lidie Allen
San Ignacio, Cayo District of Belize
Phone: +501-824-3100

RUBBA DUB SOAP - Not just a soap, but truly an experience.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Home on the Hills in San Ignacio, Cayo District of Belize

Home on the Hills in San Ignacio, Cayo District of Belize


This wonderful 3 bedroom, 2 Bathroom single storey bungalow sits on the hill just off the Western Highway in San Ignacio Town. Located just minutes from Downtown San Ignacio and just around the corner from the famous Cahal Pech Maya Ruin this home offers a very convenient and secure location. The perimeter of the property is fully fenced and the home has all available utilities to include: electricity, water, cable, internet and phone.
For more information or to schedule an appointment to see this wonderful home give us a call.

Asking Price: $95,000. USD

For more information on this property CLICK HERE
To view other listings in Belize CLICK HERE

To make an appoinment or for more information call us today.

Platinum International Real Estate
Phone: 501-664-1630
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Very Affordable Home in Belmopan the Capital City of the country of Belize

Very Affordable Home in Belmopan the Capital City of the country of Belize



This Handyman special is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath home on Mayflower Street just off South Ring Road and down the street from Belmopan Comprehensive School and around the corner from the University of Belize Belmopan Campus.
The home measures approximately 900 square feet and the residential lot measures 50x100 (5000 square feet)

Belmopan is one of the fastest growing communities and the Capital City of Belize. Belmopan is 76 meters above sea level making it a great area that is not prone to flooding and is located 50 miles inland from Belize City. This City is home to many businessmen, students, and government officials being the Capital of the country of Belize.

Asking Price ONLY: $30,000. USD
This home won't last so be sure to make your offer today!

For more information on this property, CLICK HERE
To view other listings in Belize, CLICK HERE

Give us a call to schedule an appoinment or for more information on this excellent opportunity.
Platinum International Real Estate
Phone: 501-664-1630
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Three Serene Private Islands In The Caribbean Off The Coast Of Belize

Three Serene Private Islands In The Caribbean Off The Coast Of Belize

Trois sereine îles privées - "Three Serene Private Isles" like the name says is three magnificent private isles measuring a total of 3.03 acres within close proximity of each other and located in the Turneffe Atoll range in front of Ropewalk Caye. The views are spectacular within close proximity to the barrier reef. The islands are just inside the reef which not only offers excellent protection but also make it the best location for flat fishing, snorkeling or diving. These private isles are located just 30 miles Southeast of Belize City. More Photos coming soon.

Be sure to take advantage of this excellent opportunity in the warm waters of the Caribbean.

Asking Price: $389,000. USD

For more information on this property, CLICK HERE
To view other properties in Belize, CLICK HERE

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Why should you consider Buying Real Estate in Belize?

Why should you consider Buying Real Estate in Belize?

 "Timing is everything when it comes to purchasing real estate and now is an excellent time to choose real estate in Belize." Platinum International Real Estate and Investments looks forward to welcoming you to Belize and showing you the real estate opportunities available to you. The team behind Platinum International Real Estate and Investments has over 20 years of experience in international real estate and the network and connections to give you an insider's view and bring you the region's best lifestyle and real estate opportunities.

Belize is located just two hours by air from Houston or Miami, Belize is located in the Caribbean on the main land of Central America with the Caribbean Sea is to its east which gives Belize 174 miles of pristine coastline and a land mass of 8,866 sq. miles of territory, including 266 square miles of islands.

Property prices in the Caribbean and other Central American countries have experienced over inflation in recent years, but Belize Properties still remains a bargain. Real estate in Belize has seen stability in real estate values in certain areas despite the economic turmoil in the USA and other nations around the world. Belize has seen increasing real estate investments by Canadians, Europeans, and Americans among other nationalities due to increased direct air travel from Europe and other parts of the world and is likely to increase the area’s popularity even further. Many Investors who cannot afford to retire in the U.S., Canada or Europe are considering Belize as inflation continues to rise at home. Many Investors are realizing that they may have an opportunity to jump on board before the Belize real estate market takes off again. Annual Property taxes are minimal in Belize. With NO CAPITAL GAINS TAX and NO INHERTANCE TAX, Belize is ideal for those seeking the protection of offshore investment and banking.

Owning Belize Properties in Belize is made more appealing by the Belize government’s retirement incentive program and the asset protection offered by the Belize banking system. The Legal System in Belize can also protect your assets and also your personal interest. If you are looking for possible tax exemptions, privacy and inheritance advantages, Belize is definitely the key to having much needed peace of mind.

Many properties in Belize are ideal for rentals and offer great investment opportunities. Your property can be entered into our long term lease program and property management. You can also take advantage of our short term rental or vacation home rental pool for a portion of the year ensuring that you have income when you are away and the safety of having a place you can enjoy while you are in Belize.

To search for properties in Belize, Click Here.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Invest in Belize Real Estate

If you are looking to invest in a home or land in the Caribbean or Central America then it’s definitely time to check out real estate in Belize. The real estate market in Belize is ever changing; however, one thing that remains true is that the real estate prices are still lower than that of most other countries in the Caribbean and Central America. In Belize there are always terrific investment opportunities on land and homes and at Platinum International Real Estate and Investments we promise to seek them out for you.

Belize has become a very popular tourist and retiree destination for expatriates from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Europe who seek a home away from the cold winter months. Belize offers excellent investment opportunity with its NO CAPITAL GAINS and NO INHERITANCE TAX rule. The Belize real estate market is a great place to invest your hard earned dollars.

If you are looking to get away from the harsh winters and are seeking a place to invest and eventually retire, then Belize is truly a retirement haven where you can find your luxury vacation or retirement home and so much more.

Top 10 reasons to Invest in Belize Real Estate:

1. Low Prices on Belize Real Estate

2. Belize is strategically located in Central America and the Caribbean

3. ENGLISH is widely spoken in Belize with SPANISH following a close second.

4. Relaxed Belizean Lifestyle

5. Belize has a Stable Exchange Rate

6. Belize is Politically and Economically Stable

7. Belize has increasing Tourism Trends

8. No restrictions on Foreigners purchasing property in Belize

9. Excellent Retirement Program with special incentives- Belize Qualified Retired Persons Program

10. Potential to acquire confidential offshore accounts

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hindu Community Celebrate Diwali in Belize

Date of Diwali
Diwali date changes every year as the day is calculated according to the position of the moon.

According to Hindu reckoning, the date of Diwali falls on 15th day of the dark fortnight in the auspicious Hindu month of Kartik or the month of October/November in English calendar. This Diwali day falls on the amavasya or the no moon day. Diwali date comes 20 days after the popular festival of Dussehra or Vijaya Dashmi.

So go ahead, mark the Diwali Date as November 5th, 2010 in your personal calendar and start planning for celebrations!!

Diwali in History

The history of Diwali is replete with legends and these legends are moored to the stories of Hindu religious scriptures, mostly the Puranas. Though the central theme of all legends point out to the classic truth of the victory of the good over the evils, the mode of their presentation and the characters differ. Diwali, being the festival of lights, lighting the lamp of knowledge within us means to understand and reflect upon the significant purpose of each of the five days of festivities and to bring those thoughts in to the day to day lives.

The five day of Diwali
The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari Triodasi also called Dhan Theras. The second day of Diwali is called Narak Chaturdasi. It is the fourteenth lunar day (thithi) of the dark forthnight of the month of Kartik and the eve of Diwali. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear. The third day of Diwali is the actual Diwali. This is the day when worship for Mother Lakshmi is performed. On the fourth day of Diwali, Goverdhan Pooja is performed. The fifth day of the diwali is called Bhratri Dooj. It is a day dedicated to sisters.

Hindu Mythology

The Story of Rama and Sita: Lord Rama was a great warrior King who was exiled by his father Dashratha, the King of Ayodhya, along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman, on his wife's insistence. Lord Rama returned to his Kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, in which he put an end to the demon Ravana of Lanka, who was a great Pundit, highly learned but still evil dominated his mind. After this victory of Good over Evil, Rama returned to Ayodhya. In Ayodhya, the people welcomed them by lighting rows of clay lamps. So, it is an occasion in honor of Rama's victory over Ravana; of Truth's victory over Evil.

The Story of King Bali and Vamana Avatar(the Dwarf): The other story concerns King Bali, who was a generous ruler. But he was also very ambitious. Some of the Gods pleaded Vishnu to check King Bali's power. Vishnu came to earth in the form of a Vamana(dwarf) dressed as priest. The dwarf approached King Bali and said "You are the ruler of the three worlds: the Earth, the world above the skies and the underworld. Would you give me the space that I could cover with three strides?" King Bali laughed. Surely a dwarf could not cover much ground, thought the King, who agreed to dwarf's request. At this point, the dwarf changed into Vishnu and his three strides covered the Earth, the Skies and the whole Universe! King Bali was send to the underworld. As part of Diwali celebrations, some Hindus remember King Bali.

The Defeat of Narkasura by Lord Krishna: Lord Vishnu in his 8th incarnation as Krishna destroyed the demon Narkasura, who was causing great unhappiness amongst the people of the world. Narkasura was believed to be a demon of filth, covered in dirt. He used to kidnap beautiful young women and force them to live with him. Eventually, their cries for rescue were heard by Vishnu, who came in the form of Krishna. First, Krishna had to fight with a five-headed monster who guarded the demon's home. Narkasura hoped that his death might bring joy to others. Krishna granted his request and the women were freed. For Hindus, this story is a reminder that good can still come out of evil.

Krishna and The Mountain: In the village of Gokula, many years ago, the people prayed to the God Indra. They believed that Indra sent the rains, which made their crops, grow. But Krishna came along and persuaded the people to worship the mountain Govardhan, because the mountain and the land around it were fertile. This did not please Indra. He sent thunder and torrential rain down on the village. The people cried to Krishna to help. Krishna saved the villagers by lifting the top of the mountain with his finger. The offering of food to God on this day of Diwali is a reminder to Hindus of the importance of food and it is a time for being thankful to God for the bounty of nature.

Diwali Traditions & Customs

Deepavali, the literal meaning of which in Sanskrit is 'a row of lamps.' Filling little clay lamps with oil and wick and lighting them in rows all over the house is a tradition that is popular in most regions of the country. Even today in this modern world it projects the rich and glorious past of our country and teaches us to uphold the true values of life. It is associated with many customs and traditions. One of the most curious customs, which characterizes this festival of Diwali, is the indulgence of gambling, especially on a large scale in North India.

The first day of five day long Diwali celebrations is of great importance to the rich community of western India. Houses and business premises are renovated and decorated. Entrances are made colorful with lovely traditional motifs of Rangoli designs to welcome Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. To indicate her long-awaited arrival, small footprints are drawn with rice flour and vermilion powder all over the houses. Lamps are kept burning all through the night. Believing this day to be auspicious women purchase some gold or silver or at least one or two new utensils.

Lakshmi-Puja is performed in the evenings when tiny diyas of clay are lighted to drive away the shadows of evil spirits, devotional songs- in praise of Goddess Laxmi are sung and Naivedya of traditional sweets is offered to the Goddess. There is a peculiar custom in Maharashtra to lightly pound dry coriander seeds with jaggery and offer as Naivedya In villages cattle are adorned and worshiped by farmers as they form the main source of their income. In south cows are offered special veneration as they are supposed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and therefore they are adorned and worshiped on this day.

On second day there is a traditional practice specially in Maharashtra of taking bath before sunrise with oil and "Uptan" (paste) of gram flour and fragrant powders. In northern India, especially in places like Punjab, Diwali is dedicated to the worship of Lord Rama. While in Bengal, Kali/Durga, the goddess of strength, is worshiped. Diwali is one of the few Hindu festivals, which is celebrated in every part of the country, even in states like Kerala that has Onam as its main festival. To the Jains, Deepavali has an added significance to the great event of Mahaveera attaining the Eternal Bliss of Nirvaana.

Govardhan-Puja is also performed in the North on the fourth day. This day is also observed as Annakoot meaning 'mountain of food'. In temples especially in Mathura and Nathadwara, the deities are given milk bath and dressed in shining attires with ornaments of dazzling diamonds, pearls, rubies and other precious stones. After the prayers and traditional worship innumerable varieties of delicious sweets are offered to the deities as "Bhog" and then the devotees approach and take Prasad.

Diwali Meaning & Significance

Deepavali is a festival where people from all age groups participate. They give expression to their happiness by lighting earthen 'diyas' (lamps), decorating the houses, bursting firecrackers and inviting near and dear ones to their households for partaking in a sumptuous feast. The lighting of lamps is a way of paying obeisance to god for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valor and fame.

It is one time in the whole year that children volunteer to leave their beds long before the day begins. In fact, the traditional oil bath at 3 a.m, is the only chore that stands between them and the pre-dawn adventures. They emerge, scrubbed clean to get into their festive attire, and light up little oil lamps, candles and scented sticks(agarbathis), the wherewithal for setting alight crackers and sparklers.

On Diwali night, little clay lamps are lit in Hindus homes, but now a days colored electric lamps are also used. What is the significance of lighting a lamp? There is a logical answer to this question. It is through the light that the beauty of this world is revealed or experienced. Most civilizations of the world recognize the importance of light as a gift of God. It has always been a symbol of whatever is positive in our world of experience.

To Hindus, darkness represents ignorance, and light is a metaphor for knowledge. Therefore, lighting a lamp symbolizes the destruction, through knowledge, of all negative forces- wickedness, violence, lust, anger, envy, greed, bigotry, fear, injustice, oppression and suffering, etc. Competition is stiff, and even the little girl in silk frocks and their finery are watching out for the best sparklers and flowerpots, the rockets and Vishnuchakras, which light-up the night sky like a thousand stars. Grown-ups are the soul of generosity. Festive bonhomie abounds.
Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped in every Hindu household. In many Hindu homes it is a custom for the wife to put the red tilak on the forehead of her husband, garland him and do his "Aarti" with a prayer for his long life. In appreciation of all the tender care that the wife showers on him, the husband gives her a costly gift. This Gudi Padwa is symbolic of love and devotion between the wife and husband. On this day newly married daughters with their husbands are invited for special meals and given presents. Diwali celebration is a very happy occasion for all.

Diwali Celebrations
In the midst of today's busy lifestyle, Diwali gives an opportunity to pause and be grateful for what we have, to make special memories with family and friends, to laugh and enjoy what life offers us. Though the festival of Dipavali has undergone some changes, in due course of time, yet it has continued to be celebrated since the time immemorial. Every year, the festive season of Diwali comes back with all the excitement and merriment. Times may have undergone a sea change but customs and traditions remain the same.

It is difficult to state that, since when the festival of Dipavali has been celebrating in its present form. In India, the economy is based on agriculture, this festival was believed to be started as the celebration of 'rituparva' thousands of years ago. By this time the harvest of crops were complete. As a result the people had not to worry about food for the rest of year. This joys of their reflected ion the illumination of countless lamps. In due course of time, numerous historical incidents got connected with this festival. There are many tales in the Puranas related with this festival.

With the evolution of the lifestyle, there has been certain change in the way people celebrate Diwali, as more and more technology has been included, but the zeal and the spirit of celebration remains the same. Earthen lamps may have been replaced with stunning electric illuminations, dress code may have changed, but the custom and tradition of performing puja has been carried very well through generations.

People wake up at the crack of dawn to conduct the customary pujas. Dressed in brilliant silks and glittering gold jewelry families gather and light crackers to usher in the great evening. After a session of bursting crackers, its time to visit friends and relatives. Armed with sweets and savories people meet their near and dear ones. Even today, Diwali is such a wonderful festival, a time of giving and sharing, a time to catch up with people, in other words its time to catch up with the little joys that we keep overlooking for the remaining part of the year.

Regional Significance of Diwali

The origin of Diwali festival is not known, but it has gathered a number of legends around it over the centuries. In the northern and the western regions of India, its origin is attributed to the return of Lord Ram to his kingdom after defeating the demon king Ravana. The joyous people of Ayodhya, his capital, celebrated his arrival. In the eastern states, Diwali is associated with the story of Narakasura who had menaced his people with tyranny.

In the regions of Maharashtra and Mysore, Diwali is linked with the legendary king Bali who was immensely popular with his subjects for his generosity. However, king Bali had become arrogant and conceited, and provoked the wrath of godly people. His generosity was put to test by Lord Vishnu who appeared in the disguise of a dwarf, and asked him for a piece of land equal to three steps. When Bali granted his wish, Lord Vishnu took the form of a super giant person, and with his two steps covered Bali's entire kingdom. With his third step he pushed Bali to the underland. Since then, his people celebrated his arrival on this day, locally called Bali Padyami.

In the north, most communities observe the custom of lighting lamps. However, in the south, the custom of lighting baked earthen lamps is not so much part of this festival as it is of the Karthikai celebrations a fortnight later. The lights signify a welcome to prosperity in the form of Lakshmi, and the fireworks are supposed to scare away evil spirits.

In Punjab, the day following Diwali is known as tikka when sisters make a paste with saffron and rice and place an auspicious mark on their brother's foreheads as a symbolic gesture to ward off all harm.

Likewise, on the second day of the month of Kartik, the people of Maharashtra exchange gifts. In Maharashtra, it is the thirteenth day of Ashwin, the trayodasi, that is observed as a festival commemorating a young prince whom Yama, the God of Death, had claimed four days after his marriage. Filled, however, with compassion for the luckless youth, the legend goes, Yama promised that those who observed the day would be spared untimely death-and so the lamps that are lit to mark the festival are placed facing south, unlike on other festive days, because south is the direction mythologically assigned to Yama.

For the Bengalis, it is the time to worship Goddess Kali , yet another form of Durga, the divine embodiment of supreme energy. Kali is the Goddess who takes away darkness. She cuts down all impurities, consumes all iniquities, purifies Her devotees with the sincerity of her love.