The name Diwali' originated from the Sanskrit word, 'Deepavali', which means 'row of lights'. The festival which falls on Kartik Amavasya, celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Though there are plenty of legends associated with Diwali, the most important one is Lord Rama's return to Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile. Celebrated not only among Hindus, but also Sikhs and Jains, Diwali falls on the October-November months of every year. The actual date of Diwali is calculated depending upon the Hindu Luni-solar calendar. The celebrations start on Ashvin Amavasya in the month of Aswin, while the actual day of Diwali falls on the month of Karthik. In some states, Diwali also marks the beginning of a new year and many business firms start their new accounting year from the day of Diwali. Most of the households lit lamps to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, who is believed to bring wealth and prosperity. The major celebrations span for five days. Read on to know more about Diwali celebrations.
First Day (Dhanteras)
On the first day, popularly known as Dhanteras, people offer prayers to goddess Lakshmi to bring wealth prosperity to the households.
Second Day (Chhoti Diwali)
The second day of Diwali is known by the name 'Chhoti Diwali' (small Diwali). This day is also known as 'Naraka Chaturdashi' or 'Kali Chaudas' in some states. It is believed that it was on this day that Lord Krishna killed the evil demon Narakasura. On this day, people offer prayers to Lord Krishna, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Rama.
Third Day (Diwali)
It is on the third day that the actual Diwali is celebrated. On this day, people visit temples and offer Lakshmi puja and Ganesh puja at home. People perform aarti to the deities with oil or ghee lamps placed on a 'puja thali' accompanied by Aarti songs. On the night of Diwali, people decorate their houses with diyas (ghee/oil lamps) along with fairy lights and lanterns. People also burst crackers at night.
The fourth day of Diwali is known for Govardhan Puja or Annakoot. It is believed that it was on this day that lord Krishna defeated Lord Indra, the god of rains. The legend says that Lord Krishna lifted Mount Govardhana to save lives of the people. To honour the day, people arrange food in the shape of mountain. Another legend, which is popular in South India, says that it is on this day Lord Vishnu pushed the demon king Bali down to the 'patal lok' (netherworld).
The fifth and the final day of Diwali is 'Bhaiduj' or Bhai Dooj. Also known by the name'Yama Dwitiya', this day belongs to brothers and sisters, who strengthen their bond through prayers and exchanging gifts. This tradition is followed honouring Yami who offered prayers for Yama, her brother, for his happiness. In return, brothers give away small presents to their sisters.
Diwali celebrations are different and varied in different parts of India. However, what remain common among the festivities are the vibrancy and enthusiasm of these celebrations.