The literal meaning of ‘Diwali’ in Sanskrit is ‘a row of lamps’. The most popular tradition of Diwali is filling little clay lamps with oil and wick and lighting them in rows all over the house. Even today, the tradition projects the rich and glorious past of our country and teaches us to uphold the true values of life.
Diwali has many legends and religious accounts associated with it. Lights and diyas are lit to signifying the driving away of darkness and ignorance, as well as the awakening of the light within ourselves. It is the perfect time for family gatherings, foods, celebrations and pooja. Goddess Laxmi plays a major role in this festival, as do Ram and Sita. This autumn festival is a five-days celebration, of which each one has its own significance.
People renovate and decorate their houses and business places. Entrances are made colorful with lovely traditional motifs of Rangoli designs to welcome Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. To indicate her long awaited arrival, small footprints are drawn with rice flour and vermilion powder (kumkum) all over the houses. Lamps are kept burning all through the nights.
So here’s five days of Diwali celebration in India :
To mark the auspicious day, houses and business premises are renovated and decorated. Entrances are made colorful with lovely traditional motifs of Rangoli designs to welcome 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 nights.
The day before Diwali is celebrated as Chhoti Diwali / Narak Chaturdasi or ‘small Diwali’. It is Diwali on a smaller scale, with fewer lights lit and fewer crackers burst. The morning after Choti Diwali, the women of the house make beautiful, colored rangoli in the doorway and courtyard. Tiny footprints made out of rice paste are a special feature of the rangolis made for Diwali. In Hindu homes, Chhoti Diwali celebrations involve a ritual puja to Goddess Lakshmi and also to Rama in the evening. Songs in honor of the god are sung and aarti is performed.
The third day of Diwali festival is the most important one for Lakshmi-puja and is entirely devoted to the propitiation of Goddess Lakshmi. On this very day sun enters his second course and passes Libra which is represented by the balance or scale. Hence, this design of Libra is believed to have suggested the balancing of account books and their closing. Despite the fact that this day falls on an amavasya day it is regarded as the most auspicious.
A sublime light of knowledge dawns upon humanity and this self enlightenment is expressed through the twinkling lamps that illuminate the palaces of thewealthy as well as the lowly abodes of the poor. It is believed that on this day Lakshmi walks through the green fields and loiters through the bye-lanes and showers her blessings on man for plenty and prosperity.
The day following the Amavasya is “Kartik Shuddh Padwa” and it is only on this day that the King Bali would come out of Pathal Loka and rule Bhulok as per the boon given by Lord Vishnu. Hence, it is also known as “Bali Padyami”. This day also marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat was started from this Padwa day.
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. In olden days brothers went to fetch their sisters from their in-laws home for this important day.
Govardhan-Puja is also performed in the North on this day. Govardhan is a small hillock in Braj, near Mathura and on this day of Diwali people of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar build cowdung, hillocks, decorate them with flowers and then worship them. This festival is in commemoration of the lifting of Mount Govardhan by Krishna. As per Vishnu-Puran the people of Gokul used to celebrate a festival in honor of Lord Indra and worshiped him after the end of every monsoon season but one particular year the young Krishna stopped them from offering prayers to Lord Indra who in terrific anger sent a deluge to submerge Gokul.
People were afraid that the downpour was a result of their neglect of Indra. But Krishna assured them that no harm would befall them. He lifted Mount Govardhan with his little finger and sheltered men and beasts from the rain. This gave him the epithet Govardhandhari. After this, Indra accepted the supremacy of Krishna.
Diwali, the festival of lights, is a five day long celebrations. The fifth or the last day of diwali is Bhaiya Dooj, popularly know as Bhai Dooj. The reason why this festival is known as bhai dooj is that it falls on the second day after the new moon, that is the Dooj day. And it is a day to pray for the long life of the brother, which is referred as “bhayya or bhai”. According to religious scriptures, Yamaraj, the God of death, went to visit his sister’s house after a long period of separation. His sister, Yami was very happy to see him and welcomed him by putting an auspicious mark on his forehead for his welfare. Yami and Yamraj then shared a meal. He was so pleased with his sister’s reception, he proclaimed that every year, on the dooj day, if a sister puts a tilak on her brother’s forehead, then no one can harm her brother. Till date, this tradition is followed. Sisters perform puja for their brothers safety and well being. Brothers in return give gifts to their sisters as a token of love.
Source : DiwaliFestival