The biggest and most important festival of the Hindu community in north India, Diwali or Deepawali, gets its name from the rows(‘avali’) of clay lamps(‘deep’) that are lit outside homes on this day. Also called ‘The Festival Of Lights’, the lamps symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness. This festival is celebrated to honour Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu and Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity.
The festival falls on the fifteenth day in the Hindu month of ‘Kartik’, which corresponds to the month of either October or November, in the Gregorian Calendar. This year 2017, Diwali falls on Thursday, 19 October and according to the ‘panchang', the auspicious time for the Laxmi puja is 19.11 to 20.16.
The day is celebrated as an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia. Indians, all over the world, celebrate it with joy.
Consult the expert astrologers of astroYogi for Pooja guidance this Diwali.
Rituals and Traditions
In India, the festival of Diwali is marked with fireworks, decorating homes, visiting friends and relatives, exchange of sweets and gifts and gambling by playing cards. There is a festive atmosphere in the air as people dress up in new clothes and also shop to their heart's content.
Typically, in Northern India, Diwali is spread over five days. The first day is ‘Dhanteras’ and it marks the official beginning of the festival. It is considered very auspicious to buy some form of precious metal on this day, as a sign of good luck. One lamp, with four wicks, representing the four directions, is lit in the evening.
The second day is ‘Choti Diwali’. On this day, people oil their bodies before taking an early bath.Eleven clay lamps are lit in different directions in the evening, to light the way for Lord Rama’s return.
The third day is the main day of the Diwali festival. In the evening, clay diyas and candles are lit in homes and buildings and streets are lit up with fairy lights. During an auspicious ‘muhurat’, Goddess Laxmi is worshipped with Lord Ganesha and sweets are distributed.
The fourth day is celebrated as Govardhan Pooja and Vishwakarma Day.People worship their instruments, arms and machinery and all business establishments remain closed on this day. People visit friends and relatives to wish them.
The fifth day is Bhai Dooj and sisters pray for the long and healthy life of their brothers.
Legends Associated with Diwali
There are several legends associated with the festival, of which the most popular are the ones that mark the victory of good over evil:-
- In Northern India, Hindus celebrate the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, during which he defeated and killed the demon king, Ravana.
- In Southern India, Hindus celebrate the festival as the demon, Narakasura is defeated by Lord Krishna on this day, freeing the world from fear.
- In Western India, Hindus celebrate the festival as the day, Lord Vishnu banished King Bali from Earth, to rule the netherworld and call it ‘Bali Padyami’.
- In Eastern India, Goddess Kali is worshipped on this day, as she killed the demon, ‘Raktavija’.
- The Jain community celebrates this day as it marks the nirvana or spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira.
- The Sikh community too, lights the earthen lamps on this day, to celebrate the freedom from the imprisonment of the Sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji. It is also called the ‘Bandi Chhor Divas’ or ‘Day of Liberation’ by the Sikh religious leaders.