Deepavali, the festival of lights.


Deepaavali/Diwali is the festival of lights.It is an ancient  Hindu festival

celebrated in autuman every year.The festival spiritually signifies  the

victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil

and  hope over despair.Deepaavali  celebrations are spread over 6 days

from Govatsa Dwadashi to Bhaiduj.

1.Govatsa Dwadashi :Go means cow and vatsa means calf.On this day

cow and calf are worshipped.Dwadashi means 12th day.

2.Dhan Trayodashi:Dhana means wealth and trayodashi means 13th day.

This day is regarded as the Jayanthi(birth anniversary ) of  Dhanvantari,

the physician of Gods, who came out during Samudra Manthan or churning

of the ocean by the Gods and the demons.

3.Naraka chaturdashi:Chaturdashi means 14th day. This was the day  on

which the demon Narakasura was killed by Lord Krishna.It signifies the

victory of good over evil.In South India, Hindus wake up before dawn,

have a fragrant oil bath and dress in new clothes.They light small earthen

lamps all around the house and draw elaborate rangolis outside their homes.

4 Lakshmi puja is celebrated on Deepavali Amavasya(new moon day).

Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi incarnated  on the new moon day of Karthik

month during the churning of  the ocean(Samudra mathana). Lakshmi

puja marks the most important day of Diwali celebrations in North India.

Hindus worship  the Goddess of wealth and Ganesha, the god of auspicious

beginnings and then light lamps  in the homes to welcome prosperity and

well being.

5.Bali Pratipada and Govardhan puja. In North India, people believe that

on this day Lord Krishna defeated  Indra and by lifting of Govardhan hill,

saved his kinsmen and cattle from  rain and floods.In South India it is

celebrated as Bali Padyami.The day commemorates the victory of Lord

Vishnu in his dwarf form Vamana, over the demon king Bali, who was

pushed into Patala(underground world). In Maharashtra, the day is

called as Padava(New Day).In Gujarat, it is celebrated as the first day of

the Vikram Samvatsara.(era)

6.Yama dwitiya or Bhaiduj. On this day, brother and sister meet to express

love and affection for each other.It is based on a story that when Yama,

Lord of Death, visited his sister Yami, who welcomed  Yama with an Aarati

and they had a feast together.Yama gave a gift to Yami, while leaving, as a

token of his appreciation. So the day is called as Yama Dwitiya.Brothers

visit  their sisters’ place on this day.

Some  mythical and historical reasons to celebrate Diwali are:

1. The victory of Rama :According to the epic Ramayana, it was the

newmoon day of Karthik(month), when Lord Rama, Ma Sita and

Lakshman  returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and

conquering Lanka,. The citizens of Ayodhya decorated the entire

city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before.

2.It was Karthik Amavasya, when the Pandavas appeared from

their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat, in the hands

of  Kauravas, at the game of dice(gambling). The subjects who loved

Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.

3.Maharshi Dayananda , one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism

and the founder of Arya Samaj attained his Nirvana on Diwali day.

Arya samajists regard the death as anniversary  of Swami Dayananda


4.Coronation of  Vikramaditya- one of the greatest  Hindu kings

Vikramaditya was coronated on the Diwali day. Hence Diwali

became a historical event as well.

5. Mahavira Tirthankara, considered to be the founder of  modern

Jainism, also attained his Nirvana on Diwali day in 527 BC.

6.Diwali is special day for the Sikhs.The foundation stone of the

golden temple at Amritsar was laid in 1577 on on Diwali day.

The third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a

Red-Letter Day, when all Sikhs would gather to receive the guru’s blessings.

Diwali, for Sikhs  also marks the Bandi chhor Diwas- when Guru Hargobindji

who was illegally held by  the Mughal king Jahangir was released

from the Gwalior fort along with 52 kings.

Fire works on Diwali were used to repel insects that increase in

number during the onset of winter.

Deepavali marks the end of the harvest season.Traditionally, it

marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the

agrarian cycle.



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