Diwali is the day when King Ramas 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.
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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.
Diwali as a Festival
Diwali or Deepavali, the festival of “rows of lights” (Deep = Lamp, Vali =Array), is one of the most important of all Hindu festivals.
Diwali is celebrated 20 days after Dussehra, on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin (October / November). Diwali is a New Year festival in the Vikrama calendar, where it falls on the night of the new moon in the month of Kartika.
It is a festival of lights celebrating the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. On this day homes are decorated, sweets are distributed by everyone and thousands of lamps lit to create a world of fantasy. The festival symbolizes unity in diversity as every state celebrates it in its own special way.
Diwali is very enthusiastically celebrated for five continuous days and each day has its significance with a number of myths, legends and beliefs.
The First Day: Dhanteras
The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari Triodasi also called Dhan Theras. It is the festival that marks the beginning of the diwali celebrations and therefore it is considered the first day of five days long festivities of diwali.
Dhanteras is celebrated to seek blessings of Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. In the amalgamation of Dhan teras ‘Dhan’ means wealth. God Yama is also worshiped on this day to provide prosperity and well being.
On this day, houses and business centres are renovated and 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.
Being a day dedicated to the festival of wealth, on this people purchase a new utensil, silver or gold coin or some other precious metal as a sign of good luck on the day of dhanteras. This is also a tradition related with celebrations of the festival of Dhanvantari Trayodashi.
Dhanteras festival is ideal time for setting up businesses, commencing new projects, housewarming, deciding wedding dates, buying cars and jewellery.
Lakshmi-Puja is performed in the evenings when tiny diyas of clay are lighted to drive away the shadows of evil spirits.
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The Second Day : Narak Chaturdashi/ Choti Diwali
The Second Day is called Narak-Chaturdashi or more popularly as Chotti Diwali which falls on the 14th day of the month of Kartik. This festival is observed to commemorate the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king, Narkasur.
This day is also celebrated as the birthday of Hanumanji or Hanuman jayanti. Also, on this day Hanumanji reached Ayodhya to deliver the long-awaited message of Lord Ramas return. Just like diwali people light diyas on chhoti diwali to fill their homes with light.
In South-India, people wake up before sunrise prepare a paste by mixing Kumkum in oil, which is called ‘Ubtan’, on their foreheads and then take bath. The breaking of the fruit represents the head of the demon King, Narakasur and the kumkum-oil paste symbolizes the blood that Lord Krishna smeared His forehead with.
In Maharashtra also, traditional early baths with oil and “Uptan” (paste) of gram flour and fragrant powders are a must’. All through the ritual of baths, deafening sounds of crackers and fireworks are there in order that the children enjoy bathing. Afterward steamed vermicelli with milk and sugar or puffed rice with curd is served.
In Bengal and east India, this day is called Kali Chaudas and celebrated as the birthday of Ma Kali. In Bengal Kali Ma’s murti’s are set up in pandals and Kali puja is performed on this day.
The Third Day : Diwali or Deepavali
Third Day of this festival of Diwali is the most important day of Lakshmi Puja which is entirely devoted to the propotiation of Goddess Lakshmi.
On this dark new moon night, the entrances to all homes are lit up and decorated with rangoli patterns to welcome Lakshmi, the radiant consort of
Vishnu and the goddess of wealth and lustre.
Diwali is the last day of financial year in traditional Hindu business and businessmen perform Chopda Pujan on this day on the new books of accounts.
Diwali is the festival when the new business year begins it is said that Diwali is the “Time to shop or start new ventures”.
The Fourth Day : Padwa or Varshapratipada
The fourth day of diwali celebrations is ‘Padwa’ or ‘Varshapratipada’. In the North India Govardhan Puja is performed with great zeal and enthusiasm.
On this day, Goverdhan Pooja is performed. This day is also observed as Annakoot and prayers are offered in the temples. The day after the Lakshmi Puja,
most families celebrate the new year by dressing in new clothes, wearing jewellery and visiting family members and business colleagues to give them sweets,
dry fruits and gifts.
The Fifth Day : Bhai Dooj
Bhaiya Duj or Bhai Dooj is the festival that is celebrated on the fifth day of diwali and it falls on second day after diwali that is on ‘Shukla Paksha Dwitiya’ in the Hindi month of ‘Kartik’.
Bhai Dooj is observed as a symbol of love and affection between brothers and sisters. Bhai Dooj is the festival that marks the end of diwali celebrations.
Bhai Dooj is observed as a symbol of love and affection between brothers and sisters celebrated in India with great enthusiasm.
On this festival, the sisters put the teeka on the forehead of their brothers with vermilion, sandal paste, roli or kumkum (red turmeric) and pray for them.
Brothers give gifts to their sisters. Bhai Dooj Gifts emotes the feelings of a brother, expresses the gratitude for sharing such a wonderful relationship, reflects all the love shared and fills the heart of a sister with unmatched happiness.
Such gifts are selected that are the expressions of good wishes prayers of love and more.
The story of Yamadeedaan: The legend behind Dhanteras is centred on the sixteen-year-old son of King Hima.
As per his horoscope he was fated to breathe his last on the fourth day of his marriage owing to snakebite.
On the appointed day his wife illuminated the house with numerous lamps and placed a heap of gold and silver coins and ornaments in front of their bedroom.
All through the night she sang songs and told stories.The lights of the lamps, and the dazzle of the coins and ornaments blinded the god of death, Yam devta, who had come as a serpent.
He spent the entire night in the heap listening to the sweet sounding songs before leaving peacefully the next morning. Thus, the wife succeeded in saving the life of her husband. This explains, why the Dhan teras festival is also referred to as “Yamadeepdaan”.
The Story of Samudramanthan:
Tshe legend of Samudramanthan is at the heart of these celebrations. According to this story, when the gods and demons churned the ocean for Amrut or nectar, Dhanavantri,
the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu emerged carrying a jar of the elixir.