Diwali is the most important Hindu Festival and is the short form of Deepawalee-a line of lamps. Diwali is celebrated by all Hindus, but is the most important festival for merchants, bankers and businessmen, because the main religious event is the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in Hindu mythology. The fact that Hindus have different gods and goddesses looking after different aspects of human affairs sometimes confuses nonHindus and Hindus alike. These different names of gods and goddesses represent different aspects of one supreme spirit. There is only one god for the whole universe, according to Hindus, but men and women see that spirit with difference eyes and call it by different names.
Diwali also celebrates the gracious nature of the three goddesses. Lakshmi, Kali and Sarasvati. Goddess Lakshmi embodies the wealth of nature, health, intelligence, friend’s, family, long life, fame and fortune. Kali, whose strength we seek to maintain the wealth we have been given. Strength, physical, mental and spiritual is essential for all to flourish. Diwali is also dedicated to Goddess Sarasvati, Knowledge is the ultimate wealth, for it cannot be stolen from anyone, it is the ultimate strength, and often defeats brute force.
Knowledge is the ultimate in spirituality, which eventually leads to enlightenment.
It is a festival of joy, splendour, brightness and happiness. The uniqueness of this festival is its harmony of five varied ideas, with each day to a special thought. If we could celebrate each of its five days of festivities with true understanding, it will uplift and enrich our lives. Diwali is a time when every establishment is illuminated with “Deeps”- oil lamps and every heart is filled with joy. Delighted children set off fireworks in the spirit of festival.
The Five Days Of The Festival
This festival lasts for five days but sometimes there are only four days because the movement of the moon and not the sun reckons time, since the Hindu calendar is a lunar calendar.
Day 1: Dhan Teras
Diwali begins on Dhan Teras the 13th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin. Dhanteras is the day to worship Laxmi. Indian culture has never considered wealth to be corruptive. According to the Indian culture a wealthy man is considered to be god’s beloved child, he is rewarded for the good deeds done in the past life.
In the evening Puja (worship) is offered to Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) by the man of the house; symbolized by a gold ornament or a silver rupee.
Day 2: Kali Chaudash
The second day of Diwali is called Kali Chaudash and falls on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin. The day to worship Kali, the goddess of strength, whose strength we seek to maintain the wealth we have. The day to abolish laziness and evil and shine light on life.
This day also celebrated the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Nara- Kaasura who was a fearsome demon. In the country of Pragjyotisha, with some authorities identify with the western portion of modern Assam, he carried off the daughter of Vishwa-Karma, the architect of god. The demon was a notorious kidnapper of girls he had carried off 16,000 young women. All the women prayed to god to save them and their honour. So lord Krishna decided to destroy this evil dictator. Satyabhama (wife of lord Krishna) took up the challenge of rescuing the innocent women and Lord Krishna fully supported Satyabhama in her mission.
Day 3: Diwali
This is celebrated on the third day, which falls on the dark night- Amaavasya of Ashwin. On this day Lakshmi is worshipped in every house.
Attractive patterns called rangoli are drawn on the floor near the entrance to the houses. There is usually a drawing of a lotus flower among other patterns, for the lotus is considered the favourite seat of Lakshmi. The houses and its surrounds are illuminated with oil lamps so that Lakshmi can see her way clearly. On this day of Lakshmi-Pujan, Indian merchants and bankers open their new account books, Do chopda-poojan,and after ending the financial year offer worship to Lakshmi.
The festival also commemmerates the coronation of Prince Rama. When Rama arrives at the end of fourteen years of banishment, Hindus rejoice because Rama has conquered Ravana.He has conquered evil, and good has triumphed.
Day 4: Beshtu Varasha
The fourth day of Diwali is called Bati-pratipadda and is the first day of the month of Kartik. Bali was a famous king in ancient India. He was a generous donor who gave from heart. To remember him on this day, his one good quality encourages us to perceive the goodness in others, even in our worst enemies.
Oiw~li is a joyous occasion and presents are exchanged from families and friends. This first day of Kartik is one of the most aucipious days for Hindus.
New undertakings are started on this day and the financial year begins.
This is the day of Govardhan-pooja. Annakut – where lots of dishes are prepared and offered to God, and distributed as prasad to all regardless of caste or creed.
Day 5: Bhai Beej
The fifth day of Diwali is celebrated as sister’s day. In Gujarati it is called Bhai Beej. All men are forbidden to eat any food cooked by there wives and are told to visit there sisters house. The brother and sister legend is based on the fact that Yama – who was the first to die and therefore is called the lord of death – dined on this day at the house of his sister Yamuna. He was pleased with welcome he received, so he said “let every man dine at his sisters house on this day each year.”
Diwali, being the festival of lights, thousands of lamps are lit inside ad outside every home on the day. Lamp or “deep” is the symbol knowledge. Lighting the lamp of knowledge within us means to understand and reflect upon the significant purpose of each of the five days of festivities and to bring those thoughts into everyday life.
Diwali is also tQremember the mantra – Tamaso Ma JyotirGamaya, (lead us from darkness into light). We forget our enemies and jealousy, to lighten the path of life by lights.
The festival of Diwali therefore combines legends, wealth, new undertakings and social and family obligations. It signifies the victory of good over evil. It is a joyous occasion and there should be light in every heart as there is light everywhere else. May the light of Oiwali fill your life with wealth and happiness. Guide you to make good habits and remove hatred, anger, envy, and jealousy.
By Bhavinie Purohit