BY NEHA HEGDE
Diwali — the festival of lights and the biggest Hindu festival among other festivals is celebrated for five consecutive days. Each day has its specific reason and various ways of celebrating. Basically, Diwali is the symbol of victory over evil. It is about spreading goodness over wicked. It is also called “Deepavali” which means a line of lamps’ in Sanskrit. We light lamps or Diyas to overcome the forces of darkness in our lives.
People illuminate their homes, workplace, or temple with lanterns, diyas, or candles. People also have the ritual of oil bath on all these five days. Decoration and food play a key role in celebrations. Well, let us look at why and how these five days are celebrated during Diwali.
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Day 1 of the Diwali celebration is Dhanteras, Dhan means wealth and Teras means thirteenth. This is because Dhanteras falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month. People decorate houses by installing lights and flowers. On Dhanteras, it is also a day for shopping to purchase new utensils, home equipment, jewelry, clothes, and other items. It is a symbol of annual renewal, cleansing, and a propitious beginning for the next year. Lord Laxmi and Ganesha are worshipped offering candy toys, puffed rice, and sugar cakes.
2. Narak Chaturdashi
Day 2 of the festival coincides with the fourteenth day of the second fortnight of the lunar month. Naraka means hell and Chaturdashi means fourteenth. The rituals are the ways to set free any souls suffering in Naraka and is also marked for the spiritual auspiciousness. The mythological background of the day is about Narakasura (demon) getting killed by Lord Krishna. This victory was of freeing 16,000 princesses who were kidnapped by Naraksura. This day is major for buying sweet foods like laddoos, barfis, halwa, etc.
3. Lakshmi Puja
Day 3 of Diwali coincides with the last day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month. At dusk, people with their families worship Goddess Lakshmi and welcome her to their houses to bring wealth, joy, and fortune. Prayers are also offered to other deities, such as Ganesha, Saraswati, Hanuman, etc. In Businesses, owners give gifts or bonuses in payments to employees between Dhanteras and Laxmi Puja. After the Puja gets over, people go out to light the whole house with lamps and burst firecrackers. Lakshmi Puja is all about embracing hope in life.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: अयोध्या में त्रेतायुग की उमंग, पढ़िए कैसे ?
4. Govardhan Puja
The day after Lakshmi Puja is the first day of the bright fortnight of the lunisolar calendar. It is about honouring the lord Krishna for saving Cowherd and farming communities by lifting the Govardhan mountain from the flood triggered by Indra’s anger. Cows are fed and worshipped as they are holy and sanctity of Hindu culture. Also, people celebrate the memory of Bhali Chakravarthi on this day who was destroyed by Vamana (Avatara of Krishna) and they call it Bhali Paadya.
5. Bhai Dooj
The last day of Diwali is similar to Rakshabandhan, related to the relation of brother and sister. Mythological interpretation is about Yama’s sister Yamuna welcoming Yama with a tilaka, while others interpret it as Subhadra welcoming her brother Krishna with a tilaka on his forehead after defeating Narakasura. The sisters in the family perform puja for the well-being of their brothers on this day. They follow the ritual of feeding sweets to their brothers with their hands and receiving gifts.