Diwali/ dipawali/deepawali is Indian’s biggest festival which is celebrated all through India. It is called the “Festival of Lights”. The Sanskrit word “Deepawali” means “an array of lights” and signifies the victory of brightness over darkness.
Diwali comes in the months of October or November. Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped on this day, everyone seek the divine blessings from Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
This festival is also filled with colorful vibrant silk clothes, mehandi’s, glittering jewelry, color full earthen diya’s, light decorations, color filled rangoli’s. Evening is filled with busting fireworks that fill the sky with a golden dust of happiness, aroma of burnt flower pots and lots of noise. Traditionally dressed females enjoy lakshmi puja. Exchange of gifts and blessings from near and dear is seen on this day.
Over the centuries, Diwali has become a national festival that is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith. Hindus interpret Diwali story based upon where they live in India.
1. Namasthesthu Mahamaaye’ – Sripeede’ Surapoojithe’ |
S’ankha Chakra Ghathahasthe’ -Maha Lakshmi Namosthudhe’||
2. Namasthe Garudaarude’ – Kolaasura Bhayankari |
Sarva Paabha Hare’ Devi – Maha Lakshmi Namosthudhe’ ||
3. Sarvagjne’ Sarvavaradhe’ – Sarvadhushta Bhayangari |
Sarva Dhukka Hare’ Devi – Maha Lakshmi Namosthudhe’ ||
4. Siththi Buththippradhe’ Devi – Buththi Mukthi Pradhaayini |
Mandhra Moortthe’ Sadhaa Devi -Maha Lakshmi Namosthudhe’||
5. Aadhyantharahidhe’ Devi – Aadhi Sakthi Maheswari |
Yohagjne Yogasambhoothe’ – Maha Lakshmi Namosthudhe’ ||
6. Sthoola Sookshma Mahaaroudhre’ – Maha Sakthi Mahodhare’ |
Mahaa Paabha Hare’ Devi – Maha Lakshmi Namosthudhe’ ||
7. Padhmaasana Sthidhe’ Devi – Parabrahmma Svaroopini |
Parame’si Jaganmaadhaah: – Maha Lakshmi Namosthudhe’ ||
8. Svethaambradhare’ Devi – Naanaalankaara Bhooshithe’ |
Jagathsthidhe’ Jaganmaadhah – Maha Lakshmi Namosthudhe’ ||
9. Maha Lakshmiyashtakasthothram Yahpade’ Bhakthimaan Narah: |
Sarva Sidhdhi Mavaapnodhi – Rajyam Prapno’dhi Sarvadha ||
10. Ekha Kaalam Pade’ Nithyam – Mahaa Paabha Vinaasanam |
Dhvi Kaalam Yah:pade’ Nithyam – Dhanadhaanya Samanvithah: ||
11. Thri Kaalam Yah:pade’ Nithyam – Mahaa Sathru Vinasanam |
Maha Lakshmeer bave’nnithyam – Prasannaa Varadha Subhaa.||
1. Salutations to the Great Maya (the power of Supreme Brahman devoid of qualities). Her abode is none other than Sri Peetha or Sri Chakra. She holds the Conch (symbolizing the gross manifestation) and the Disc (symbolizing the great wisdom).I worship Sri Maha Lakshmi with all devotion.
2. Salutations to Lakshmi riding the Kite (Garuda). She is the one who destroyed Kola Demon, the symbol of ignorance, She removes all the crookedness of mind body and soul. I worship Sri Maha Lakshmi with all obedience.
3. She is the supreme knowledge, and fulfiller of all desires, she is the destroyer of all wicked things. She removes all sorrow of the mankind. I worship Sri Maha Lakshmi with all devotion.
4. She provides the spiritual divinity and the discriminative intellect. She gives the intellect for the liberation or moksha. She is the embodiment of all mantras. I worship Sri Maha Lakshmi with all devotion.
5. She is devoid of beginning and ending. She is the primordial energy of the cosmic creation. She is the divine fire (Cosmic will) of the all yogas and she dawns in the minds of yogis. I worship Sri Maha Lakshmi with all devotion.
6. She is the one who manifests in the Gross Subtle Universal manifestation and is the deadly force of the Creation. She is the Supreme energy of the Cosmos. She elevates the individual from all the greatest pitfalls of progress (papa). I worship Sri Maha Lakshmi with all devotion.
7. She is adored in the yogic posture of padmaasana. She is the symbol of Supreme Brahman, devoid of all attributes. She is the Supreme wealth of the cosmos and the Mother of all creation. I worship Sri Maha Lakshmi with all devotion.
8. She is worshipped in white clothes symbolizing the Sudha Satva of Samkhya Darshana. She is adorned with all ornamentation symbolizing differential creations of cosmos. She is the genesis of all the Cosmos bound by time and space and the mother of all creations. I worship Sri Maha Lakshmi with devotion.
9. This is the 8 slokaas of Sri Maha Lakshmi. He who reads (understands) these slokaas with all devotion will obtain all the desires (physical, mental, spiritual), and the Spiritual Kingdom of Moksha.
10. If these 8 slokaas are recited once a day all pitfalls are removed. If these are recited twice a day all physical prosperity is achieved.
11. If these 8 slokaas are recited thrice a day he will be devoid of all qualities of enmity and hatred. Let this Sri Maha Lakshmi manifest in us with all her pleasantness and fulfilling qualities.
Thursday, October 23, 2014.
The main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Legends are moored to the stories of Hindu religious scriptures, the Puranas. Though the central theme of all legends point out to the classic truth of the victory of the good over the evils. Diwali, being the festival of lights, 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 in to the day to day lives.
According to Hindu mythology the story of Rama and Sita: Lord Rama was a great warrior King who was exiled by his father Dashratha, the King of Ayodhya, along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman, on his wife’s insistence. Lord Rama returned to his Kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, in which he put an end to the demon Ravana of Lanka. After this victory of Good over Evil, Rama returned to Ayodhya. In Ayodhya, the people welcomed them by lighting rows of clay lamps. So, it is an occasion in honor of Rama’s victory over Ravana; of Truth’s victory over Evil.
The story of King Bali and Vamana Avatar (the Dwarf): The other story concerns King Bali, who was a generous ruler. But he was also very ambitious. Some of the Gods pleaded Vishnu to check King Bali’s power. Vishnu came to earth in the form of a Vamana(dwarf) dressed as priest. The dwarf approached King Bali and said “You are the ruler of the three worlds: the Earth, the world above the skies and the underworld. Would you give me the space that I could cover with three strides?” King Bali laughed. Surely a dwarf could not cover much ground, thought the King, who agreed to dwarf’s request. At this point, the dwarf changed into Vishnu and his three strides covered the Earth, the Skies and the whole Universe! King Bali was send to the underworld. As part of Diwali celebrations, some Hindus remember King Bali.
The defeat of Narkasur by Lord Krishna: Lord Vishnu in his 8th incarnation as Krishna destroyed the demon Narkasura, who was causing great unhappiness amongst the people of the world. Narkasura was believed to be a demon of filth, covered in dirt. He used to kidnap beautiful young women and force them to live with him. Eventually, their cries for rescue were heard by Vishnu, who came in the form of Krishna. First, Krishna had to fight with a five-headed monster who guarded the demon’s home. Narkasura hoped that his death might bring joy to others. Krishna granted his request and the women were freed. For Hindus, this story is a reminder that good can still come out of evil.
Krishna and The Mountain: In the village of Gokula, many years ago, the people prayed to the God Indra. They believed that Indra sent the rains, which made their crops, grow. But Krishna came along and persuaded the people to worship the mountain Govardhan, because the mountain and the land around it were fertile. This did not please Indra. He sent thunder and torrential rain down on the village. The people cried to Krishna to help. Krishna saved the villagers by lifting the top of the mountain with his finger. The offering of food to God on this day of Diwali is a reminder to Hindus of the importance of food and it is a time for being thankful to God for the bounty of nature.
The five days of Diwali
1: The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari Triodasi also called Dhan Theras.
In the word Dhanteras, “Dhan” stands for wealth and “teras” stands for 13th day. On Dhanteras Goddess Laxmi is worshiped to provide prosperity and well being. Hence Dhan Teras holds a lot more significance for the business community.
Dhanteras Legends Story about Dhanteras Festival says that once the sixteen year old son of King Hima was doomed to die by a snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage as per his horoscope. On that fourth day of his marriage his young wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid all the ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of her husband’s boudoir and lighted innumerable lamps all over the place and she went on telling stories and singing songs. When Yama, the god of Death arrived there in the form of a Serpent his eyes got blinded by the dazzle of lights and he could not enter the Prince’s chamber. So he climbed on top of the heap of the ornaments and coins and sat there whole night listening to the melodious songs. In the morning he quietly went away. Thus the young wife saved her husband from the clutches of death. Since then this day of Dhanteras came to be known as the day of “Yamadeepdaan” and lamps are kept burning throughout the night in reverential adoration to Yam, the god of Death. According to another popular legend, when the gods and demons churned the ocean for Amrit or nectar, Dhanavantri (the physician of the gods and an incarnation of Vishnu) emerged carrying a jar of the elixir on the day of Dhanteras. Dhanteras Traditions On Dhanteras Hindus consider it auspicious to purchase gold or silver articles or at least one or two new utensils. It is believed that new “Dhan” or some form of precious metal is a sign of good luck. “Laxmi-Puja” is performed in the evenings when tiny Diyas of clay are lighted to drive away the shadows of evil spirits. “Bhajans”-devotional songs- in praise of Goddess Laxmi are also sung.
2: The second day of Diwali is called Narak Chaturdasi or Chhoti Diwali.
It is the fourteenth lunar day (thithi) of the dark forthnight of the month of Kartik and the eve of Diwali. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear.
Chhoti Diwali Legends The story goes that the demon king Narakasur ruler of Pragjyotishpur (a province to the South of Nepal) after defeating Lord Indra had snatched away the magnificent earrings of Aditi, the Mother Goddess (the ruler of Suraloka and a relative of Satyabhama, Lord Krishna’s wife) and imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of the gods and saints in his harem. On coming to know about this, Satyabhama was enraged by Narakasura’s malevolence towards women, and she appealed to Krishna to give her the golden chance to destroy Narakasura. The legend also says that Narakasura was given a curse that he would be killed by a woman. Krishna granted Satyabhama a boon to fight with Narakasura. With Krishna as the charioteer, Satyabhama entered the battle field. During the war, Krishna swooned for a while, a preordained divinely act adopted to empower Satyabhama to kill the demon. After Narakasura was beheaded, the imprisoned women were released, and Krishna accepted to marry them. So on the day previous to Narakachaturdashi, Lord Krishna’s divine intervention led to the killing of the demon, Narakasura and liberation of the imprisoned damsels as well as recovery of the precious earrings of Aditi. As a symbol of that victory Lord Krishna smeared his forehead with the demon king’s blood. Krishna returned home in the very early morning of the Narakachaturdashi day. The womenfolk massaged scented oil to his body and gave him a good bath to wash away the filth from his body. Since then the custom of taking bath before sunrise on this day has become a traditional practice specially in Maharashtra. It is interesting to note that Bhudevi, mother of the slain Narakasura, declared that his death should not be a day of mourning but an occasion to celebrate and rejoice. Since then, Deepavali is being celebrated by people every year with joyous celebrations with lot of fun and frolic, and fire works.
3: The third day of Diwali is the actual Diwali. This is the day when worship for Mother Lakshmi is performed.
On this very day sun enters his second course and passes Libra which is represented by the balance or scale. Hence, this design of Libra is believed to have suggested the balancing of account books and their closing. Despite the fact that this day falls on an amavasya day it is regarded as the most auspicious. The day of Lakshmi-Puja falls on the dark night of Amavasya. Lakshmi Puja consists of a combined puja of five deities: Ganesha is worshiped at the beginning of every auspicious act . Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped in her three forms – Mahalakshmi (the goddess of wealth and money), Mahasaraswati (the goddess of books and learning), and Mahakali; Kuber (the treasurer of the gods) is also worshiped.
4: On the fourth day of Diwali, Govardhan Pooja or Annakut or kali Puja is performed.
Govardhan-Puja is performed in North India on this day. Govardhan is a small hillock in Braj, near Mathura and on this day of Diwali people of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar build cowdung, hillocks, decorate them with flowers and then worship them. This festival is in commemoration of the lifting of Mount Govardhan by Krishna. As per Vishnu-Puran the people of Gokul used to celebrate a festival in honor of Lord Indra and worshiped him after the end of every monsoon season but one particular year the young Krishna stopped them from offering prayers to Lord Indra who in terrific anger sent a deluge to submerge Gokul. People were afraid that the downpour was a result of their neglect of Indra. But Krishna assured them that no harm would befall them. He lifted Mount Govardhan with his little finger and sheltered men and beasts from the rain. This gave him the epithet Govardhandhari. After this, Indra accepted the supremacy of Krishna. This day is also observed as Annakoot meaning mountain of food. Pious people keep awake the whole night and cook fifty-six or 108 different types of food for the bhog (the offering of food) to Krishna. In temples especially in Mathura and Nathadwara, the deities are given milkbath, dressed in shining attires with ornaments of dazzling diamonds, pearls, rubies and other precious stones. After the prayers and traditional worship innumerable varieties of delicious sweets are ceremoniously raised in the form of a mountain before the deities as “Bhog” and then the devotees approach the Mountain of Food and take Prasad from it.
5: The fifth day of the diwali is called Bhratri Dooj or Yama Dwitya. It is a day dedicated to sisters and God Yama is prayed by women of the house seeking blessing for long life of all men in home.
Sikh Festival Diwali In Sikh perspective, Diwali is celebrated as the return of the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji from the captivity of the city, Gwalior. To commemorate his undying love for Sikhism, the towns people lit the way to, Harmandhir Sahib (referred to as the Golden Temple), in his honor.
Jain Festival Diwali Among the Jain festivals, Diwali is one of the most important one. For on this occasion we celebrate the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira who established the dharma as we follow it. Lord Mahavira was born as Vardhamana on Chaitra Shukla 13th in the Nata clan at Khattiya-kundapura, near Vaishali. He obtained Kevala Gyana on Vishakha Shukla 10 at the Jambhraka village on the banks of Rijukula river at the age of 42.
On Diwali in most of the Indian States people decorate their homes with lights and oil lamps in earthern diyas. Do Lakshmi puja in the evening which is followed by having lavish meals, sweets, exchanges of gifts and finally fireworks.
In Bihar; The adivasis of Bihar worship kali on this day. Eating unripe coconut and taking a beetle is considered auspicious. In chota nagpur, the men circumbulate their village with basket full of paddy and grass. A week after the festival of lights, is the festival Chhath. For one night and day, the people of Bihar literally live on the banks of the river Ganga when a ritual offering is made to the Sun God.
In Delhi; get crowded with shoppers and shopping bonanzas. Around every street corner can be found the temporary stages for holding the Ramlila – a dramatic rendition of the story of the Ramayan, which continues for several evenings, culminating in the defeat of Evil (Ravanna) by Good (Ram) on the Dussehra Day. Often the women of the house do “aarti” to their husbands, garlanding him and putting a “tika” on him, while praying for his long life. In some houses, there is a ritual of immersing a silver coin in a tumbler of milk. The milk is then sprinkled lightly in the rooms of the house. The Prashad is kept in front of the idol throughout the night.
In Gujarat; Diwali is associated mostly with the worship of Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth. It is believed that Lakshmi on this day emerges to bring prosperity to the world. Lakshmi puja in Gujarat lasts for five days, which starts with Dhanteras. The fourth day, or the day of Govardhan Puja is Gujrati’s New Year’s Day.
In Kashmir; On Amavasya elders of family would keep a fast and worship goddess Laxmi after sunset.
In Orissa; All the members of the household gather together just after dusk. A rangoli of a sailboat is made on the ground. The boat has seven chambers. Over the drawing of each different chamber several items are kept – cotton, mustard, salt, asparagus root, turmeric and a wild creeper. Over the central chamber are the offerings meant for prasad. Perched over the prasad is a jute stem with a cloth wick tied around the edge. It is lit at the beginning of the puja. All members of the family hold a bundle of jute stems in their hands. Lighting their respective bundles from the flame on the rangoli, they raise them skywards chanting: “Bada badua ho, andhaara re aasa, aluwa re jaa. Baaisi pahaacha re gada gadau tha.” Beside the rangoli, a mortar and pestle and a plough are also kept and worshiped. After the puja and offerings, the family celebrates Diwali festival by bursting crackers.
In Punjab; Winter crops are sown and the day following Diwali is celebrated as Tikka. On Tikka day, with saffron paste and rice, sisters place an auspicious mark on their brother’s forehead, gesturing to ward off all harms from her brother. Diwali is also the anniversary of Guru Hargobind ji being released from the prison at Gwalior Fort. In was on this day in 1619 A D. Fireworks display by the traditional professionals recreates the glory of the times gone past.
In West Bengal; Lakshmi puja is celebrated five days after Dussehra, on the full moon day (Purnima). On the following new moon day (Amavasya), coinciding with Diwali, goddess Kali is worshiped. Kali, the more aggressive form or the destructive incarnation of Goddess Durga, has a terrifying look. She destroys all evils. Lamps are lit in her honor, and in return, she promises a renewal of life and justice on earth. Two or even four plantain leaves decorate the entry to the house or property, with a row of diyas at the doorstep. The entire family gathers around for Lakshmi puja in the evening. Diwali Festival stretches over three days, but on Amavasya the final day, the celebrations and lights are less. The first two festival days are important, with feasting, family gatherings, lights and fire crackers occupying time from dusk to dawn.
In Himachal Pradesh; After sunset, clay lamps are lit on a plank in the memory of the departed ancestors. Afterward they are placed within the houses. Sweets are distributed and the young one seek the blessings of the elderly. Goats are sacrificed on this day. Women paint little vessels (Auloo) with clay and decorate it with drawings in red paint. They pray to these and exchange these with their best friends. On the day of Diwali, soaked rice is powdered and designs are made out of that. At night time, the young girl worship this design with grass and camphor. At some places, a figure of Lakshmi made with sandalwood is placed in a copper plate and a mandav of sugarcane is made over it and worshiped.
In Maharastra; Diwali celebrations starts with ‘Vasu-baras’ that comes on tithi ‘Ashwin krushna dwadashi’ as per Marathi calendar. Vasu-baras is a celebration held in honor of cows – regarded as mother by Hindus. Following the rituals of the day married women perform ‘puja’ of cows having calf. The tradition symbolizes a woman’s gratitude towards cow for serving them and their children. Celebrate Dhanvantari Jayanti on this day to honor the great ancient doctor Dhanvantari. On the day of Dhanatrayodashi ‘Yama-Deep-Dan‘ is held wherein mothers and wives make one ‘divas’ each for all living male in the family. The diva, made from the kneaded flour is lit and offered to Lord Yama in the evening. As they perform the ritual womenfolk pray to Lord Yama – the Hindu mythological God of Death that their husbands and sons be blessed with a long life.
Believing that Goddess Lakshmi visits every house in the evening, people perform ‘Lakshmi Puja’. This is essentially a worship of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesh, money, jewelleries and the broom. On Diwali Cha Padvawife does ‘aukshan’ of her husband and husbands present a special gift to their wife. The last day of Diwali festival is called Bhau Bij. In this sisters do ‘aukshan’ of their brothers and pray for their long life. Brothers, in their turn bless their sister and pamper them with loads of Bhau-Bij gifts.
In Maharashtra, end of Diwali celebrations marks the beginning of Tulsi-Vivah. Under this people organize marriage of sacred tulsi (a basil plant) in their house. In Maharashtra the tradition is that people start organizing marriage ceremonies of their sons/daughters only once Tulsi-vivah starts.
In Andhra Pradesh; the festival starts early in the morning. People of Andhra Pradesh celebrate the Diwali festival by visiting temples and offering poojas. Night skies are filled with fire scintillations and homes are decorated with lamps and joy filled the faces of people as they enjoy fireworks , perform Lakshmi Puja. In Hyderabad, there is a tradition of giving bath to the buffaloes, on the day of Diwali. There is also a custom of decorating paper figures.
In Tamil Nadu; It is the custom to first take a small quantity of deepavali lehiyam (medicinal, ayurvedic paste) after the oil bath and then have breakfast.
Different Varieties of Sweets are prepared and offered to Goddess MahaLakshmi such as:
Karanji or gujia or kajikayalu with different varieties of stuffing of dry fruits and nuts mixed with sugar or jaggery
Kheer made of (vermicelli kheer, suji kheer, sabudana kheer, rice kheer, apple kheer, channa dal kheer)