New Delhi: Gambling on cards has been an important tradition associated with Diwali for centuries. This celebration is all in fun, in a spirit of light-hearted revelry and merrymaking.

However, on the hind side, it has also earned the dubious distinction of leading to quarrels, massive amount of betting and anti-social activities.

The word Diwali originates from the Sanskrit word Deepawali that means rows of lights and the timing of Diwali is determined by the Hindu lunar calendar. The festival usually falls on October or November and is celebrated over five consecutive days with different traditions associated with each of the five days.

As Diwali having its emphasis on money, gambling is considered lucky. Reflecting tradition wrapped in modernity, giving social sanction to a vice, a popular saying states that one who does not gamble on this day will be reborn as a donkey in his next birth.

It is said that on playing cards, the Goddess of Wealth smile upon the player and ensures him goodwill.

Gambling on Diwali night is traditionally believed to invoke Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, who may then shower blessings on the player’s household for the rest of the year.

It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva. In fact; this particular scene is superbly sculpted at Kailash temple, Ellora. Goddess Laksmi decreed that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the ensuing year.

Others rationalize that this is just to make oneself aware of the fickleness of lady luck and to inculcate a sense of balance in the pursuit of material success.

This tradition of playing cards, rummy, flush with stakes on Diwali night, continues even today. In most homes, people invite their friends and relatives over to play cards. Friends get together to indulge in games of cards.

Casinos and local gambling houses do brisk business during the Diwali week. The memories of Diwali night can be joyful to the winners and the losers can’t wait for the next Diwali to come around.

“Timepass” and sport motivate the middle-class card parties. Many friends meet only at this time of the year. The stakes are low — not exceeding Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 — and the mood is light.

However, big-time gamblers carry up to a lakh in suitcases. Chips are allowed or more cash brought in if the money runs out. If the loser doesn’t pay up, that could be the end of his social life. The question is “is it necessary to carry on the tradition or put a stop to it”? This decision remains on the believers.

Jagranpost spoke to some people got their views on gambling in Diwali season…….

"It's just a seasonal form of entertainment for family members and friends evolved out of the traditional custom during Diwali," said housewife Ruchika Gupta, who justifies card parties at this time of the year. "For me it is unwinding process and after all it's not gambling in the real sense of the term," she added. "

The gambling tradition has taken a more organised form recently with informal invitations for a card party exchanging hands just after Durga Puja," said 28-year-old businessman Sandeep Kumar, who is audience to most of such card parties in the festive season.

A bar tender in Connaught Place, Albert Dsouza (name changed) said, “ I am working in this bar since five years…..people come here to gamble on Diwali and gives a lots of tip to us. Some goes with sad faces and some with delighted.”

“Every year people all around the capital contact us for playing gamble. This was amazing for us due India-England series. We earned a lot and still planning for another series. Godess Laxmi blessing bolstering us. Delhiites examining their luck like anything,” Ankur (32) (name changed) a resident of Kathputli village near Shadi Pur said.

Amit Kumar