Diwali-Deepavali Festival in India

Diwali Festival of Lights – Definition and Fact

Hi, first of all, Happy Diwali and may god keep you and your family healthy and wealthy.

What you are looking for and What you are going to get from this article? Let me give you a brief, here you will get to know my thoughts on the Diwali Festival, Diwali Definition and some Facts. 

Diwali-Deepavali Festival in India

First thing first.

What is Diwali | Deepavali | Diwali?

You will find several people having different pronunciations for Diwali like Deepavali or Divali. Here will stick to one spelling i.e Diwali

Diwali is an Indian festival of lights, one of the major festivals of Hinduism. This festival lasts for 5 days and falls somewhere between mid-October and mid-November. 

Diwali is the festival of lords, but this festival is widely associated with Lakshmi (goddess of prosperity) and widely associated with the day Lord Sita and Lord Rama returned to their kingdom Ayodhya after defeating the demon-king Ravana. Many other regional traditions connect the festival to Vishnu, Krishna, Yama, Yami, Durga, Kali, Dhanvantari, or Vishvakarman

Some Fact and Knowledge about Diwali

The name Deepavali is derived from the Sanskrit term deep which means an Indian lantern/lamp. Which are lit on the new-moon night, one of the common and best ways to celebrate Diwali, apart from decoration of floors with rangoli designs and fireworks. 

As above mentioned, Diwali is a five-day festival, and the main day is celebrated on the third day coinciding with the darkest night of the lunar month. The festival formally begins two days before the night of Diwali and ends two days thereafter. 

Each day has the following rituals and significance:

Dhanteras, Dhanatrayodashi (Day 1)

Dhanteras in many regions across India are known as Dhanatrayodashi, the first day that marks the festival of Diwali in India. 

Dhanteras, famous as a major shopping day to purchase new utensils, home equipment, jewelry, firecrackers, and other items. Derived from Dhan meaning wealth and teras meaning thirteenth. That’s why the day also marks the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Kartik and the beginning of Diwali.

There are several ways to celebrate this festive day at home. On the evening of Dhanteras, families offer prayers (puja) to Lakshmi and Ganesha and lay offerings of puffed rice, candy toys, rice cakes and batashas (hollow sugar cakes).

To mark the importance of the day, the Indian ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, announced its decision to observe Dhanteras, as the “National Ayurveda Day”, which was first observed on 28 October 2016.

Naraka Chaturdashi, Chhoti Diwali (Day 2)

Now we are very close to the main day i.e the second day of the five-day-long festival of Diwali and that’s what it resembles with its name Chhoti Diwali.

Chhoti Diwali also known as Naraka Chaturdashi, is the second day of festivities marking the fourteenth day of the second fortnight of the lunar month. 

Let’s understand some facts behind (Naraka Chaturdashi or Chhoti Diwali) day. The term “chhoti” means little, while “Naraka” means hell and “Chaturdashi” means “fourteenth”. 

There are two theories behind the purpose of this day celebration. 

One, in which the day and its rituals are interpreted as ways to liberate any souls from their suffering in “Naraka”, or hell, as well as a reminder of spiritual auspiciousness. For some, it is a day to pray for the peace to the manes, or deified souls of one’s ancestors and light their way for their journeys in the cyclic afterlife.

Second, a mythological interpretation of this festive day is the destruction of the asura (demon) Narakasura by Krishna, a victory that frees 16,000 imprisoned princesses kidnapped by Narakasura. 

Apart from that, since this day is just before the main Diwali festive day, this day is also a major day for purchasing festive foods, particularly sweets and giving final touch to home decor.

Lakshmi Pujan, Kali Puja (Day 3)

This is the time when we spread love and gratitude by joyfully saying “Happy Diwali” or “Happy Deepavali”. This is the third day, the height of the five-day-long festival of Diwali. When all the houses and temples are aglow with lights, thereby making it the “festival of lights”. 

Let’s look into some facts. The third day is the Lakshmi Pujan/Kali Puja which coincides with the last day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month. Lakshmi Pooja, is a Hindu religious festival that falls on Amavasya (new moon day) of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar month of Ashwin, on the third day of Diwali and is considered as the main festive day of Deepavali. 

It is believed that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity, auspiciousness, and good fortune, and Lord  Vishnu‘s wife, visits her devotees and bestows gifts and blessings upon each of them. 

To welcome the Goddess, devotees clean their houses, decorate them with finery and lights, and prepare sweet treats and delicacies as offerings. Devotees believe the happier Lakshmi is with the visit, the more she blesses the family with health and wealth. 

Shops either do not open or close early on this day allowing employees to enjoy family time. Shopkeepers and small operations perform puja rituals on their office premises. 

Diwali is the festival of light and food (sweet), and hence unlike some other festivals, the Hindu typically does not fast during the five-day-long Diwali including Lakshmi Pujan, rather they feast and share the bounties of the season at their workplaces, community centers, temples and homes.

As the evening approaches, celebrants will wear new clothes or their best outfits, teenage girls and women, in particular, wear saris and jewelry. At dusk, family members gather for the Lakshmi Pujan, although prayers will also be offered to other deities, such as Ganesha, Saraswati, Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Hanuman, or Kubera. The lamps from the puja ceremony are then used to light more earthenware lamps, which are placed in rows along the parapets of temples and houses, while some diyas are set adrift on rivers and streams. After the puja, people go outside and celebrate by lighting up patakhe (fireworks) together, and then share a family feast and mithai (sweets, desserts).

Annakut, Balipratipada (Padwa), Govardhan Puja (Day 4)

The main day of Diwali is over, don’t get upset, remember we mentioned its 5-day long festival. So keep up with your festive mood. The 4th day of the long Diwali festival, the day after Diwali is the first day of the bright fortnight of the lunisolar calendar. It is known by several names – as Annakut (heap of grain), Padwa, Govardhan puja, Bali Pratipada, Bali Padyami, Kartik Shukla Pratipada and other names. 

According to one tradition, the day is associated with the story of Bali’s defeat at the hands of Vishnu. In another interpretation, it is thought to reference the legend of Parvati and her husband Shiva playing a game of dyuta (dice) on a board of twelve squares and thirty pieces, Parvati wins. 

This day ritually marks and resembles the bond between the wife and husband, and in some Hindu communities, husbands will celebrate this with gifts to their wives. In other regions, parents invite a newly married daughter, or son, together with their spouses to a festive meal and give them gifts.

In the north, west and central regions of India, the fourth day is celebrated as Govardhan Puja, honoring the legend of the Hindu god Krishna saving the cowherd and farming communities from incessant rains and floods triggered by Indra’s anger, which he accomplished by lifting the Govardhan mountain.

This epic is remembered through the ritual of building small mountain-like miniatures from cow dung. According to Kinsley, the ritual use of cow dung, a common fertilizer, is an agricultural motif and a celebration of its significance to annual crop cycles.

Annakut marks the agricultural symbolism, which means “mountain of food”. Many communities prepare over one hundred dishes from a variety of ingredients, which is then dedicated to Krishna before shared among the community. Hindu temples on this day prepare and present “mountains of sweets” to the faithful who have gathered for darshan(visit). In Gujarat, Annakut is the first day of the new year and celebrated through the purchase of essentials, or sabras ( “good things in life”), such as salt, offering prayers to Krishna and visiting temples.

Bhai Duj, Bhau-Beej, Vishwakarma Puja (Day 5)

The last day of the festival is called Bhai Duj ( any brother out you going to be happy, it means “brother’s day”), Bhau Beej, Bhai Tilak or Bhai Phonta

This day is to celebrate the sister-brother bond, similar in spirit to Raksha Bandhan but it is the brother that travels to meet the sister and her family. 

There are different interpretations of this festive day, by some to symbolize Yama’s sister Yamuna welcoming Yama with a tilaka, while others interpret it as the arrival of Krishna at his sister’s, Subhadra, place after defeating Narakasura. 

On this day the womenfolk of the family gather, perform a puja with prayers for the well-being of their brothers, then return to a ritual of feeding their brothers with their hands and receiving gifts. 

According to Pintchman, in some Hindu traditions, the women recite tales where sisters protect their brothers from enemies that seek to cause him either bodily or spiritual harm. In historic times, this was a day in autumn when brothers would travel to meet their sisters or invite their sister’s family to their village to celebrate their sister-brother bond with the bounty of seasonal harvests.

Many other communities (mostly The artisan Hindu and Sikh) celebrate the fourth day as the Vishwakarma puja day. Vishwakarma is the presiding Hindu deity for those in architecture, building, manufacturing, textile work and crafts trades. The looms, tools of trade, machines and workplaces are cleaned and prayers offered to these livelihood means. 

Conclusion: 

Diwali is a festival of lights, food, love and happiness. Do wish this Diwali that every living form on this planet stays healthier, happier, and flourish in harmony always. The way most of us illuminate our homes, temples and workspaces with diyas, candles and lanterns.  Wish to illuminate all other living forms lives with lights and help one another to grow. 
We celebrate Diwali with fireworks and the decoration of floors with rangoli designs, try to celebrate every day with a beautiful smile on your face.

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