Deepawali is the combination of two Sanskrit words. Deep meaning light and Awali meaning rows. When they merge we get one word Deepawali meaning rows of lights.It was from then on that the words Diwali and Deepawali became synonymous.
Diwali the Hindu festival of lights is celebrated with the performance of Lakshme Pooja(worship unto the Goddess of light,wealth,and prosperity) and at night time, thousands of earthen lamps called Deeyas are lit to dispell darkness.
The festival honors the Hindu goddess Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, good luck, riches and generosity. She will visit every home during the festival. Diwali also celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
The date of this holiday varies each year according to the Hindu calendar. It is held on the 14th day of the dark half of Aashwayuja to the 2nd day of the bright half of Kaartik, which falls in October or November in the Gregorian calendar. The celebration comes just as the monsoon season ends and the weather is calm and mild.
Diwali celebrated after the return of Lord Rama from exile was universal in nature. It is said that Lord Rama returned home on Diwali night after fourteen years of exile in the forest.The city of Ayodhya appeared to be a garden of light during that night as everyone went out to meet and greet Him in the traditionally ceremonial manner.As the inhabitants came out of their homes with their lighted deeyas to greet Lord Rama,it created a spectacle with rows of lights as far as the eyes could see.This gave birth to the word Deepawali,meaning rows of lights.
The story about Diwali which regards to the origins of Diwali.
This the day on which Lord Krishna destroyed Narakasur.The victory of Lord Krishna over the evil demon, Naraksura is the triumph of good over evil and therefore the day is celebrated enthusiastically.
In the Adi Parva of the Mahabarat(one of the great Hindu epics), the Pandavas(a class of noble men) returned from the forest during Diwali time.Once more, the celebrations extended beyond the boundaries of India to wherever Hindus lived.
All of these reasons contribute to the universal celebration of Diwali as it is today, be it in India or any other country where Hindus reside.
The 5 days of Diwali…..
Diwali the festival of lights is observed in the month of Kartik (October-November) on the night of the New Moon.This night happens to be the darkest night of the year.This festival of Diwali is a 5 day celebration with Diwali day being the most important of the five days.Weeks before these five days, Hindus observe fasting, they clean themselves, their homes and its surroundings in preparation for Lakshmi Pooja (worshiping of the Goddess of light, wealth and prosperity).
The first day of Diwali…..
The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari Triodasi also called Dhan Theras.It is in fact the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksh (the dark forthnight) of the month of Kartik. On this day, Lord Dhanvantri came out of the ocean with Ayurvedic medicine (medicine which promotes healthy long life) for mankind.
This day marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations. On this day at sunset, Hindus should bathe and offer a lighted deeya with Prasad (sweets offered at worship time) to Yama Raj (the Lord of Death) and pray for protection from untimely death.
This offering should be made near a Tulsie tree(the Holy Basil) or any other sacred tree that one might have in their yard. If there is no sacred tree, a clean place in the front yard will suffice.
On this day,Pandits, Sadhoos,and Hindus in general, perform Hawan(a fire ritual) and Jap(the chanting of special Mantras or prayers) for good health and strenght during the forthcoming year.
The second day of Diwali…..
This day the houses are cleaned and fresh flowers are placed all around to adorn the home. A rangoli is drawn at the entrance of the home. Rangoli’s are intricate designs drawn with a mixture of rice flour and water. They are created for all special occasion but during Diwali they are filled in with bright colors. At night, brilliant firework displays take place sometimes lasting for hours. Cites by rivers float little boats with lighted candles on the water.A dipa is placed on every windowsill and on the steps of outside stairways.
The third day of Diwali…..Diwali itself…..
This is the day when worship unto Mother Lakshmi is performed throughout India.The day of anticipation has finally arrived. Traditionally the day starts with an oil bath. New clothes are worn and the doorways are sprinkled with clean water. This day of the festival includes a breakfast that has different dishes.
Prayers are said either at the temple or at home. Friends and families visit each other and partake of various sweets.
Hindus themselves and join with their families and their Pandit (priest) worship the divine Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Kuber And Lord Bharaiva to achieve the blessings of wealth and prosperity, the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
This phenomenon of good over evil has attracted peoples from the many races and they all join with the Hindu community in celebrating Diwali,the festival of lights.
And above all…..
On this day Mother Lakshmi emerged from the ocean of milk called the Ksheer Sagar. She brought with Her wealth and prosperity for mankind. On that day,Lakshme Pooja was performed to honour Her and as such, every year on Diwali day, Hindus perform Her prayer and worship.In northern part of India, on Diwali day, Hindus invite the Pandit (a Hindu priest) to their home and they perform Lakshmi Pooja in grand style. The making and distribution of various sweets and total vegetarian foods are the order of the day. They give charity to the poor and gifts to the Brahmins (the priestly class of people).This practice is alive and well to this very day.
The fourth day of Diwali…..
On this day, Goverdhan Pooja is performed. Many thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna caused the people of Vraja to perform Goverdhan Pooja. From then on, every year Hindus worship Goverdhan to honour that first Pooja done by the people of Vraja.
Itis written in the Ramayan (a text recording the exploits of Lord Rama), that when the bridge was being built by the Vanar army,Hanuman (a divine loyal servant of Lord Rama possesing enormous strength) was bringing a mountain as material to help with the construction of the bridge. The call was given that enough materials was already obtained. Hanuman placed the mountain down before He could have reached the construction site.Due to lack of time,He could not have returned the mountain to its original place.
The diety presiding over this mountain spoke to Hanuman asking of His reason for leaving the mountain there.Hanuman replied that the mountain should remain there until the age of Dwapar when Shree Rama (Lord Rama) incarnates as Lord Krishna in the form of man. He, Lord Krishna will shower His grace on the mountain and will instruct that the mountain be worshiped not only in that age but but in ages to come.This diety whom Hanuman spoke to was none other than Goverdhan (an incarnation of Lord Krishna),who manifested Himself in the form of the mountain.
To fulfill this decree, Goverdhan Pooja was performed and is continued to be performed today.
The fifth day of Diwali…..
The second day of the bright forthnight (Shukla Paksh) of Kartik is called Bhratri Dooj. This is the day after Goverdhan Pooja is performed and normally two days after Diwali day.
It is a day dedicated to sisters. We have heard about Raksha Bandhan (brothers day). Well this is sisters day.
Many moons ago,in the Vedic era,Yama(Yamraj, the Lord of death) visited His sister Yamuna on this day.He gave his sister a Vardhan(a boon) that whosoever visits her on this day shall be liberated from all sins. They will achieve Moksha or final emancipation.
From then on, brothers visit their sisters on this day to enquire of their welfare.
This day marks the end of the five days of Diwali celebrations