Diwali or Deepavali is an important Hindu festival and celebrated throughout the world and is the festival of joy, prosperity and good luck. It’s the festival of lights (deep = light and avali = a row i.e., a row 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.
Diwali-Deepavali Festival History:
Main Legend – The Story of Rama and Sita:
In the north, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and the surrounding areas, Diwali is the day when King Rama`s coronation was celebrated in Ayodhya after his epic war with Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.
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.
Five Days of Diwali Celebrations
The first day of this festival begins with ‘Dhan Trayodashi’ or ‘Dhanteras’. After the Dhanvantari Trayodashi, the second day of Diwali is called ‘Narak Chaturdashi’, which is popular as ‘Chhoti Diwali’.
The third day of Diwali, which is also called ‘Badi Diwali’ 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.
Day 1 Of Diwali Is Celebrated As Dhanteras, History Behind Dhan Trayodashi Celebration
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.
Day 2 Of Diwali Is Celebrated As Narak Chaturdashi (Choti Diwali), History Behind Narak Chaturdashi (Choti Diwali) Celebration
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.
Day 3 Of Diwali Is Celebrated As Diwali-Deepavali
This day is the main day of celebrating diwali, this day is also called as ‘Badi Diwali’ and is the main day of celebrations of the festival of deepavali.
Day 4 Of Diwali Is Celebrated As Govardhan Puja, History Behind Govardhan Puja Celebration
‘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 Paevat) 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.
Day 5 Of Diwali Is Celebrated As Bhai Dooj, History Behind Bhai Dooj Celebration
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.
Also read… Bhagini Hastha Bhojanam-Bhai Dooj Festival
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.
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.
How Diwali or Deepavali is celebrated:
According to an ancient myth, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth travels through all our homes on Diwali night and stops to bless the homes that are shiny and sparkling clean. So as this festival approaches, all houses go through a thorough spring-cleaning in anticipation of her wealth and blessings.
She will be greeted by a beautiful gaily painted Rangoli on the threshold of each home while inside too she is welcomed by an array of sparklers and little earthen lamps that light up and considerably brighten the atmosphere.
The actual festivities start from Dhanteras, which is celebrated two days before Diwali. Everybody goes out of their way to make big purchases and buy new clothes and jewelry.
This is because this day is considered auspicious for wealth, and it is said that if you buy any silver or gold on this day, you will be lucky throughout the year. The goddess Lakshmi is worshiped on this day through a Lakshmi pujan, which is performed not only in the homes but in shops and offices as well.
What Rituals are Performed During Diwali or Deepavali :
Diwali is the festival of Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and wealth. It is believed that Goddess Laxmi visit everyone during Diwali and brings peace and prosperity to all. On the night of Diwali “Lakshmi-Pujan” is performed in the evenings. A traditional Pujan is performed after sunset in all the homes.
Five pieces of ghee diyas (lamps) are lit in front of the deities, naivedya of traditional sweets is offered to the Goddess and devotional songs are sung in praise of Goddess Lakshmi. After Deepawali Puja people light diyas (lamps) in their homes to usher in light and clear the darkness from the world.
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.
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