Diwali is one of the Indian festivals celebrated all over India, with equal enthusiasm and zeal. The word 'Diwali' is the abbreviation of the Sanskrit word 'Deepavali', which means 'rows of lights'. One of the major Hindu festivals, it is celebrated to commemorate the victory of good over the evil, when Lord Rama defeated Ravana and rescued his wife Sita from his custody. It is predominantly a five-day festival, with a number of customs and rituals followed during each day. People prepare themselves for the festival weeks ahead, by cleaning and decorating their premises.
The main festival day falls on the no-moon day of the dark half of Kartik, according to the Hindu lunar calendar. Celebrated with vigor and gaiety by people of every religion, the magical effect of Diwali creates an atmosphere of joy and festivity. Innumerable lamps are lit on the roofs and windowsills of the houses, thus, giving a divine look to the whole scenario. It is said that Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth, roams the earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean and brightly illuminated. Therefore, people, before exchanging gifts and bursting crackers, offer prayers to the deity.
Young and old, men and women, all dress up in new clothes on this day to illuminate their home with diyas. The deities of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are worshipped on Diwali, after which, the people share sweets and gifts with their relatives and friends. Fireworks, which attract the kids the most, form the highlight of the festival. The festive mood extends to the couple of days following the main day of the festival. Deepavali symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. It is the celebration of victory of good over evil - and the glory of light.
Diwali falls on a new moon day in the month of October or November. Since the precise moment of the new moon falls on different dates depending on geographical location, the date of Diwali also depends on one's location. Click Here to know the date.
History of Diwali:
The festival of Diwali is celebrated by Indians throughout the world in a joyous mood, with zeal and enthusiasm. The festival is predominated by colorful display of lights, bursting of crackers, cleanliness, sweets, lots of shopping, happiness. The festive spirit brings people of different communities closer, to celebrate the vibrant festival in the most blissful and lively way. Like most of the festivals in India, Diwali too has its base in mythology and there is a very interesting history about this festival.
Five Days of Diwali Celebrations & Rituals:
The first day of this festival begins with 'DhanTrayodashi' or 'Dhanteras'. After the Dhanvantari Trayodashi, the second day of Diwali is called 'NarakChaturdashi', which is popular as 'Chhoti Diwali'. The third day of Diwali, which is also called 'BadiDiwali' is the main day of celebrations of the festival of diwali. The fourth day of the festival is devoted to Govardhan Pooja (worship of Lord Govardhan Parvat). The fifth day of the festival is Bhai Dooj, the time to honor the brother-sister relationship.
The first day of Diwali celebration is marked by Dhanteras. According to the legends, during the churning of ocean by the Gods and the demons, Dhanvantari - the physician of the Gods came out of the ocean on the day of Dhanteras, with a pot of amrita that was meant for the welfare of the humankind. This day also marks the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi, which is celebrated by drawing small footprints of the deity, with rice flour and vermilion powder.
People renovate, decorate their houses and workplaces on this day and make traditional 'Rangoli' motifs on the entrance, to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. Lamps and candles are lit throughout the night. It is considered auspicious to buy gold and silver on this day. Many people opt for buying new utensils on this day. In Maharashtra, offerings of lightly pounded dry coriander seeds with jaggery are made to the Goddess. Rural people revere their cattle on this day and cows are considered especially auspicious.
2.Narak Chaturdashi (Choti Diwali) History
One famous story behind the celebrations of Diwali is about the demon king Narakasur, who was ruler of Pragjyotishpur, a province to the South of Nepal. During a war, he defeated Lord Indra and snatched away the magnificent earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi, who was not only the ruler of Suraloka, but also a relative of Lord Krishna's wife - Satyabhama. Narakasur also imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of Gods and saints in his harem. A day before Diwali, Lord Krishna killed Narakasur, released the jailed daughters and restored the precious earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi.
On second day, people take bath before sunrise, anoint themselves with oil and 'Ubtan' (scrub made up of gram flour and fragrant powders). Bengalis believe that Goddess Kali killed the demon Raktavija on this day. A general customs followed during the second day of Diwali is to burst crackers. People illuminate their homes with diya, as to welcome the set the mood for celebrations in the following day.
3.Diwali And Shri Ram of Ayodhyaa:
The most famous legend behind the celebrations of Diwali is about the prince of Ayodhya Nagri - Lord Shri Ram. According to the legend, the king of Lanka, Ravan, kidnapped Lord Ram's wife (Sita) from the jungle, where they were staying as per the instructions of King Dashratha, father of Lord Ram. Then Ram attacked Lanka, killed Ravan and released Sita from the custody. He returned to Ayodhya with his wife Sita and younger brother Lakshamana after fourteen years.
Therefore, the people of Ayodhyaa decorated their homes as well as Ayodhyaa, by lighting tiny diyas, in order to welcome their beloved prince Shri Ram and Devi Sita. It was the day of 'Kartik Amavasyaa' when they also celebrated the victory of Shri Ram over the King of Lanka, Ravan. Ram is considered the symbol of good and the positive things and Ravan represents the evils. Therefore, Diwali is considered the festival, which establishes the victory of good over the evil. On the night of Diwali, people light diyas, which is again an icon of positive energy to conquer darkness, the is symbol of negative energy.
The third day is the main day of the Diwali festival. Jains have their own religious significance of the day, because they believe that Lord Mahavir attained 'Nirvana' (or Eternal Bliss) on the day. Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the great saint who gave rise to Hindu Renaissance, also left the mortal world on this day. On this day, people wear new clothes and share gifts and sweets with their friends and relatives. Women prepare delicacies and whole house is illuminated with 'diyas' and candles. Fireworks and crackers are the kids' favorites on this day.
4.Govardhan Puja History:
'Govardhan' is a small hillock situated at 'Braj', near Mathura. The legends in 'Vishnu Puraan' have it that the people of Gokul used to worship and offer prayers to Lord Indra for the rains, because they believed that it were He, who was responsible for rainfall for their welfare. However, Lord Krishna told them that it was Mount Govardhan (Govardhan Parvat) and not Lord Indra, who caused rains. Therefore, they should worship the former and not the latter.
People did the same, which made Lord Indra so furious that the people of Gokul had to face heavy rainfall because of his anger. Lord Krishna came forward to ensure their security and after performing worship and offering prayers to Mount Govardhan, he lifted it as an umbrella, on the little finger of his right hand, so that everyone could take shelter under it. After this event, Lord Krishna was also known as Giridhari or Govardhandhari.
On the 4th day is the 'Govardhan-Puja' or 'Annakoot'. In the temples of Mathura and Nathadwara, the deities are bathed with milk and adorned with precious clothes and ornaments. Then offerings of a large variety of delicacies are made to them
5.Bhai Dooj History:
According to the legends, Lord Yamraj, the God of Death, visited his sister Yamuna on the 'Shukla Paksha Dwitiya' day in the Hindi month of 'Kartik'. When Yamraj reached Yamuna's home, she welcomed him by performing his aarti, applying 'Tilak' on his forehead and by putting a garland around his neck. Yamuna also cooked varieties of dishes, prepared many sweets for her brother and offered all those to Him.
Lord Yamraj ate all those delicious dishes and when he was finished, he showered blessings on Yamuna and gave her a boon that if a brother visits his sister on this day, he would be blessed with health and wealth. This is why this day of Bhayya Duj is also known by the name of 'Yam-Dwitiya'. Thus, it has become a tradition that on the day of Bhai-Dooj for the brothers to visit their sisters' home and offer them gifts. Sisters also make various dishes for their brothers and give gifts to them. The 5th day or the last day of this festival is called ' Bhai Duj '.
History Of Sikh Community's Diwali
In the Sikh community, Diwali celebrations have special importance as for them it, is popular as the day when their sixth Guru, Guru Har Govind ji came back from the captivity of the fort of Gwalior city. The people illuminated lamps in the way to Shri Harmandhir Sahib, which is known by the name of 'the Golden Temple', to honor and welcome their beloved Guru.
History of Jain Community's Diwali
For the Jain community, the festival of Diwali has special significance. It is the day when the famous Jain prophet Bhagvaan Mahaveer, the founder of Jainism, attained 'Nirvana'. Therefore, the people of Jain community celebrate the festival of Diwali in remembrance of Lord Mahavira.
Stories & Legends of Deepavali
Return of Shri Ram To Ayodhyaa
The most famous legend behind the celebrations of Diwali is about the prince of Ayodhya Nagri - Lord Shri Ram. The king of Lanka, Ravana, kidnapped Ram's wife - Sita from the jungle, where they were staying as per the instructions of King Dashratha, father of Lord Ram. In order to freed Sita from Ravana's custody, Ram attacked him. This was followed by a war, in which, Ram defeated Ravan and released Sita from his custody. On the arrival of Lord Ram along with his wife Sita, people of Ayodhya decorated their homes as well as the city of Ayodhyaa by lighting tiny diyas all over, in order to welcome their beloved prince Shri Ram and Devi Sita.
Incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi
On the auspicious new moon day, which is 'Amavasyaa' of the Hindi month of Kartik, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity - Lakshmi was incarnated. She appeared during the churning of the ocean, which is known as 'Samudra Manthan', by the demons on one side and 'Devataas' (Gods) on the other side. Therefore, the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the Lakshmi Pujan, on the day of Diwali, became a tradition.
Lord Krishna Destroyed Demon Narakasur
One famous story behind the celebrations of Diwali is about the demon king Narakasur, who was ruler of Pragjyotishpur, a province to the South of Nepal. After acquiring victory over Lord Indra during a war, Narakasur snatched away the magnificent earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi, who was not only the ruler of Suraloka, but also a relative of Lord Krishna's wife - Satyabhama. Narakasur also imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of Gods and saints in his harem. With the support of Lord Krishna, Satyabhama defeated Narakasur, released all the women from his harem and restored the magnificent earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi.
The Return of The Pandavas
The great Hindu epic 'Mahabharata' has another interesting story related to the 'Kartik Amavasyaa'. According to the story, 'the Pandavas', the five brothers Yudhishthhira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahdeva, were sentenced to thirteen years exile as a result of their defeat against 'the Kauravas' - Duryodhana and his ninety nine brothers, at the game of dice. Therefore, the Pandavas spent thirteen years in the jungles and returned to their kingdom on the day of 'Kartik Amavasyaa'. On their return, the people of their kingdom welcomed the Pandavas by celebrating the event by lighting the earthen lamps all over in their city.
Coronation of King Vikramaditya
Another legend or story about Diwali celebrations relates to one of the greatest Hindu King - Vikramaditya. It was the day when he was coroneted and the people celebrated this event by lighting tiny earthen 'diyas'.
Importance of Diwali
Diwali is the Indian festival that brings a series of festivals with it. One after another, we get a chance to celebrate five ceremonious occasions. The people of all age groups and classes with equal zeal and enthusiasm celebrate Diwali throughout India. They put on new apparels and participate in the various activities that are related to Diwali celebrations. It is a festival of celebrations such as lightings, crackers, cleanliness, colorful rangoli making, social gatherings to exchange greetings and sharing sweets with your loved ones. Diwali is a festival filled with spiritualism and religious activities, such as worship of Goddess Lakshmi, worship of Lord Ganesha, worship of Ma Kali, worship of Lord Chitragupta and worship of Govardhan Parvat.
Traditional Deepavali Pooja
Diwali Pooja is performed in different families in a different way depending upon their regional and cultural customs. In villages, even the cattle are adorned and worshipped by farmers on this occasion as they regard them as their main source of their income. In south India also, cows are offered special veneration this day as they are supposed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. However, in most of the families the Pooja is done in a simple way by installing the idols of Goddess Laxmi and Lord Ganesha on the eve of Diwali.
Diwali Puja Thali ~ Diwali Pooja Plate
Diwali Puja Thali is a steel or copper or golden plate containing all the essentials require during the poojas of Lord Ganesh and Goddess Sri Mahalakshmi.Diwali Puja Thali contains the idols of Lord Ganesh and Goddess Mahalakshmi, in the middle a small bowl for wet kumkum (tilak / tika). And around that small bowl, it contains several small bowls for powdered kumkum, haldi (turmeric powder), consecrated rice (Akshita), Aarti kappur (Camphor tablets), betel nuts, dry fruits, mishri (sugar) and etc..
You can design Diwali Puja as your wish. Apply your thoughts and rock with your innovative Diwali Puja Thali.
The Pooja begins by the gathering of the entire family in the Pooja room and installation of the new idols of the deities in the small mandir at home. The senior most member of the family along with the priest of the family performs all the ritual. The ritual begins with the purification ceremony, each of the deities is bathed first with water, then with panchamitra (a mixture of milk, curd, ghee sugar & honey) and then with water again, this is actually a process of the purification of the idols before deities are invoked into it. After this, five pieces of ghee diyas are lit in front of the deities in order to drive away the shadows of evil spirits. The pooja thali containing all kids of prasads are then placed infront of the deities.
All the members of the family are then asked to close their eyes and chant the mantras as recited by the priest. Even if they do not know the mantra they can simply close their eyes and remember the deities with full devotion. It is said that if you remember the God by true heart, they certainly come to your place to bless you. Once the mantras are over, all the members of the family offer auspicious items like abir (red colour), sindoor (vermillion) and haldi (turmeric), flower and sweet dishes to the deities. They also light incense sticks and diyas infront of the deities and seek their blessings. People also offer silver or gold coins, nariyal (Coconut) and jewelleries to the deities.
Once the offering and individual Pooja is over, people do arti and sing bhajans for welcoming the god in to their home and thanking them for being kind to their family till now. Ganesh Aarti is followed by Lakshmi Aarti. The aarti thali is then taken in each room of the home to purify the entire home. After the aarti is over, the priest of the family is presented with gifts and the process of lighting diyas in the entire home begins. After the lighting is done, people take the ‘prasad’ and burst crackers.
"Deep Jyothi Parabrahma, Deep Jyothi Janardhana
Deepo Hartume Papam, Sandhya Deepam Namostute "
Above is the prayer to the ‘Deepam’ or the light. Diyas represent light or knowledge. Diwali Diyas are the embodiment of goodness, virtuosity, harmony and eternal truth.
Diwali is ‘festival of lights.’ It is celebrated on no moon day of Kartika or on a dark night. But on that day the darkness has no place as zillions of diyas lighten up the globe. And wherever there is light there is no place for the darkness.
Diwali Diyas – Significance
Diwali connotes the victory of good over the evil. There are number of legends connected to Diwali, all of them with one same underlying principle of establishing knowledge, wisdom, goodness, happiness, peace, truth and prosperity all over the world. Diwali Diyas are the symbols that show the right path for the soul so that there should be no ignorance and nuisance in the world. This idea is universal and is not confined to Indian or Hindu idealogy. Thus Diyas are the scientifically spiritual forms of knowledge that enlighten the aura with brilliance, amidst the sheen of it ignorance and evil are engulfed.
Diwali Diyas Decorations:
Diya is a small earthen lamp made of clay. Ghee or oil, especially gingelly oil, are used as the fuel. Cotton wool is used as the wick. They are also known as Deepams and are considered holy and auspicious. They are purchased on the day before Diwali.
Now-a-days the diyas are not just baked mud ones but are embellished beautifully by colours, designs and crafts. Various shops showcase the brilliant designs of diyas and lamps crafted by ceramic designers from all over the country.
Diyas also come with zaris and mirrors. Latest diyas are the delightful ones with sharply cut edges, embellished with cut work, covered and filled with colorful wax. Special Diyas called ‘Ganesha Diyas’ and ‘Lakshmi Diyas’ come with 21 or 11 spouts. Leaf shaped and rose shaped diyas are famous these days. Some colorful diyas show the vivid shades of blue, yellow, red, pink with well-crafted gold and silver borders
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