Diwali Festival of Deepavali

    Diwali or Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, is one of the biggest and popular festivals of India. Celebrated with great enthusiasm, the festival is marked by multi-colored Rangoli designs, special rituals, lighting of lamps, floral decorations, fireworks, exchange of Diwali sweets and gifts. As per Hindu calendar, this five day festival is celebrated after 20 days of Dussehra. Diwali celebrations begin on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin (October/ November) and falls on the Amavasya -the 15th day of the dark fortnight of Ashwin. The festival of lights concludes on the 2nd day of the bright half of Kartika.

    Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Ram after a 14-year exile in the forest and his victory over the Ravana. The word is taken out from the Sanskrit word Deepavali - 'Deep' means diya (small pots made from clay) or light and 'Avali' means a row - meaning a row of diyas or array of lamps. Thus the festival is celebrated by placing small diyas, candles and lamps all over the home. In the year 2011, Diwali Festival is celebrated on 26th October 2011.

    Traditions of Diwali

    Diwali or the festival of lights, as it is better known, is celebrated over five days denoting five varied philosophies, with each day to a special belief.

    Dhanteras – The first day

    The first day festival, Dhanteras, is also called as Dhantrayodashi or Dhanwantari Triodasi. It falls on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Ashwin (October/November). Dhan means "wealth" and on this day, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped for prosperity and welfare. It is considered auspicious to purchase gold or silver articles or at least one or two new utensils.

    Narak Chaturdasi – The second day

    This is the second day before Diwali and is celebrated as Chhoti Diwali or small Diwali. Lights are lit in smaller numbers and fewer crackers burst. Colored rangoli are drawn in the doorway and courtyard. Special rituals are offered to Goddess Lakshmi and also to Rama in the evening.

    Lakshmi Puja - The third day

    This is the most important day of the five-day celebrations with colors of firecrackers, lighting of lamps, delicious sweets and new clothes. This day is devoted to the Goddess Lakshmi and offering puja to the Goddess is the main event on Diwali in North and West India. Lakshmi Puja is the combined puja of five deities: Ganesha is worshiped at the beginning; Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped in her three forms - Mahalakshmi (the goddess of wealth and money), Mahasaraswati (the goddess of learning), and Mahakali; Kubera (the treasurer of the gods) is also worshiped.

    Govardhan Puja – The fourth day

    This puja is performed in the north on this day. Govardhan is a small hillock in Braj, near Mathura. On this day, people of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar build cow dung and hillocks and adorn them with flowers and worship them. This festival commemorates the lifting of Mount Govardhan by Lord Krishna. This day is also observed as Annakoot which means ‘mountain of food’. Certain people wake up for the whole night and cook fifty-six or 108 different types of food for the bhog (the offering of food) to Krishna.

    Bhai Duj – The fifth day

    Popularly known as Bhai Dooj, this day falls on Dooj, the second day after the new moon. This day commemorates the visit of Lord Yama (god of death) to the house of his sister who drew an auspicious mark on his forehead for his welfare. Accordingly, on this day, sisters perform puja for the safety of their brothers and well being.

    Regional celebrations of Diwali

    Diwali is celebrated through out India with much religious importance. However, Diwali celebrations varies from one place to another. Hindudevotionalblog.com will be posting another detailed article on Deepavali Celebrations in India soon.

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Diwali Festival of Deepavali

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