No Indian festival is complete without festivals. The mother of all festivals, Diwali, has them inplenty. They are an integral part of this Festival of Light. The festival is celebrated over five days and each day has a special significance attached to it. As the festival is celebrated according to ‘tithis’, at times two festival days fall on the same date.
Decorating houses, shops and offices, putting up ‘Diyas’, drawing ‘Rangoli’, performing aartis, the long standing customs and traditions make Diwali very special. The association with diyas has also given Diwali name as Deepavali
The first day of the festival begins with ‘Dhanteras’ or ‘Dhanatrayodashi’, a day set aside to worship Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. It falls on the 13th lunar day in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik. People of the Hindu faith wake up very early on this day and start preparations for worship and bathing rituals. They clean their homes and shops, decorate entrances with garlands of mango leaves and marigold flowers, draw rangoliss on doorways to welcome the Goddess. Diyas are arranged in and around the houses, which are to be lit in the evening.
Since this day of Diwali is associated with ‘dhan’ or wealth, people buy gold and silver jewellery, new utensils, clothes and other such items. Coins, representing wealth, are also worshipped in the evening.
In Indian villages, farmers worship cattle on this day for they help them prosper. In south India, cows are offered special prayers as they are considered to be the incarnations of the Goddess. This day of Diwali is also very important to the mercantile community of western India. They renovate and decorate their business premises on Dhanteras.
– Narka Chaturdashi
The second day of Diwali is known as ‘Narka Chaturdashi’ or ‘Kali Chaudas’. It is the 14th lunar day of the dark forthnight. Kali, the Goddess of strength, is worshipped on this day. People light lamps or diyas and burn crackers to drive away evil forces and indulge head-on into Diwali celebrations. They also visit their relatives and friends with Diwali gifts, cards and sweets. Oil baths are taken on ‘Narka Chaturdashi’ to symbolise cleaning and purification of one’s body, mind and soul.
People wake up before the sunrise to take this holy bath with oil and ‘Uptan’ After this, cooking for Diwali starts amid cheers and laughter. This day of Diwali also focusses on casting away laziness and evil fromt he world. Another name for this day is ‘Chhoti Diwali’ (small Diwali) it being just the day before the big day of Diwali.
– Lakshmi Pujan
It is the most important day of Festival of Lights. This day is known as ‘Badi Diwali’ (big Diwali) or more commonly just as Diwali. This falls on the last day of the lunar calendar year and is the most important day of the clebration. Falling on a no-moon day, this day is the darkest day of the year. This day of Diwali witness the prime of Deepavali celebrations when the festive fervour reaches its peak with firecrackers bursting everywhere, people rejoicing with friends and family, every Hindu family performing ‘Lakshmi puja’ with the traditional ‘aarti’(a Hindu ritual of waving lamps in front of the deities) and diyas glowing in and around every house.
Hindu businessmen perform puja of accounts books and ledgers on this day. In a nutshell, this day of Diwali is a day of mega celebration.
The fourth day of Diwali is called Padwa or ‘Annakoot’ meaning mountain of food. It is also known as ‘Varshapratipada’ and marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya. This day of Diwali is the beginning of the ‘Vikram Samvat’ or the new year.
On this day, old businesss accounts are settled and new accounts opened. The North Indians perform ‘Govardhan Puja’ on this day. They build little hills made of cowdung(symbolising Govardhan) and worship them. In temples, the deities are given milk bath, dressed in gorgeous attires with adornments of dazzling stones. After the prayers and worship, traditional Diwali sweets are ceremoniously rised in the shape of a mountain. This is known as ‘Bhog’ and is then shared by the devotees.
– Bhau beej
The fifth day of Diwali is ‘Bhau Beej’ or ‘Bhai Dooj’ which marks end of the five-day festival. This is a day dedicated to the sisters who are visited onthis day by their brothers with special gifts. These sisters put a ’tilak’(sacred mark) on their brothers’ foreheads and bles them with a long and healthy life full of happiness. They even cook for their brothers on ‘Bhai Dooj’.
This last day of Diwali observes the love between brothers and sisters and is a day of great warmth and joy.