Diwali – Festival of lights

Diwali or Deepavali is one of the biggest & the most popular festivals of India. In Sanskrit, “Deep” means lamp and “Vali” means row, inshort Deepavali means “lighting small clay lamps filled with oil in a row in and around the house.” Thats why it is popularly known as the “Festival of Lights”. generally Deepavali is a five day festival which starts on the thirteenth day after the full moon of the Hindu month Ashwin. Usually Diwali falls between mid October to mid November. During Diwali every home is illuminated with twinkling lamps. It is believed that lighting these lamps welcome Goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi. Colorful rangoli designs, floral decorations, mouth watering delicacies and fireworks give Diwali a grand & magnificent look.

Diwali is very enthusiastically celebrated for five continuous days and each day has its own significance. But in some states of India like Maharashtra, Karnataka Diwali starts on the 12th day of the Hindu month Ashwin. It is known as “Vasu-Baras” or “GoVatsa-Dwadashi”. It is a celebration held in honour of cows.

Day-1 : “Vasu-Baras or GoVatsa-Dwadashi”
“Go” means cow and “Vatsa” means baby cow or calf. “Vasu” means cow and “Baras” means the 12th day. Cows are considered as mother and that’s why on this day cow & calf are worshiped by the married women. On this day, millet flour chapati and beans curry are made for offerings. As we know India is an agricultural country because of that Indian culture puts a great emphasis on different festivals on animals and plants.

Day-2 : Dhanteras/Dhanatrayodashi
“Dhan” means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day of the Hindu month Ashwin after the full moon. “Dhan-puja(Jewelry-money worship)” in the evening is an important ritual on this day. Offering of Coriander powder and sugar is made. Dhanateras is considered as an auspicious day to buy precious metals like gold, platinum etc or any utensils as a sign of good luck. “yama-Deep-Dan” is another important ritual observed on this day. Lamps, made from kneaded flour, are lit in the name of all family members and offered to Lord Yama, God of death, in the evening for the long and healthy life.

Day-3 : Narak Chaturdashi
“Chaturdashi” means the 14th day of the hindu month Ashwin. According to ancient tale, Lord Krishna killed the demon, Narkasura onthis day and protected the gods and the saints from his wrath. On this day people get up earlier than usual. “Abhyang Snan” (Elaborate bath) on Narak Chaturdashi is the most significant one. It is believed that people who do Abhyang snan before sunrise this day can avoid going to Narak(hell). Sesame oil or any perfumed oil should be used for massage before bathing. Ubtan (homemade paste) made of turmeric, gram flour, sandalwood & other Ayurvedic powders should be used for the Abhyang snan.  Afterwards a large breakfast with different delicacies is enjoyed with relatives and friends. In the evening oil lamps are lit in and around the house.

Day-4 : Lakshmi pujan
Lakshmi pujan or the worship of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, is the most important day of the Diwali. The day of Lakshmi pujan falls on the dark night, Amavasya. People perform ‘Lakshmi Pujan’ in the evening after sunset. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi visits every house in the evening & bless everyone with wealth, prosperity and success. As it’s a dark night people lit oil lamps everywhere in the house to welcome goddess Lakshmi. Different delicacies are made on this day. Offering of puffed rice and batasha (sweet made from only sugar) are made to the goddess. Sweets & gifts are given to friends and relatives. It is also believed that on this day Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya, after he successfully rescued Sita and defeated the demon Ravana. Married ladies and girls are invited for the Haldikukkum after Lakshmi pujan.

Day-5 : Bali Pratipada/Diwali-padwa/Bali Padyami/Govardhan puja
Balipadyami or Bali Pratipada is the day on which demon king ‘Bali’ is worshiped. When Lord Vishnu in the form of ‘Vamana’ (Small bramhin) appeared before king Bali and asked for the three steps of land from generous Bali. King agreed readily, not knowing who the vamana was. As soon as Bali agreed, vamana took the huge form and occupied entire universe and the earth in two steps. Since there was no other place to put the third step King Bali offered his head to Vamana to put his third step. That’s why the meaning of of Bali pratipada here, in Sanskrit is ‘Prati’ means opponent and ‘Pada’ means foot, King Bali under the opponents feet. In some parts of India this day is called as ‘Diwali-Padwa’ and men give gifts to their wives and daughters. In north India, this day is also observed as Govardhanpuja, and is celebrated as the day Lord Krishna defeated king Indra and by lifting mountain Govardhan saved people from rain and floods.

Day-6: Bhai-Duj/Bhau-Beej/Bhai Tika/Bhaipota
Bhai Dooj is celebrated by brothers and sisters in India on the last day of Diwali, to strengthen the bond between them. On this day, sisters pray for their brothers to have long and happy lives by performing the Tilak ceremony, and brothers give gifts to them and promises to protect them. On this day,sisters invite their brothers for a grand meal which includes brothers favorite dishes. If women do not have a brother or
who live far away from their brother often worship Moon god and pray for their brother’s long and happy life.

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