Diwali or Deepawali is India’s most renowned and glorious festival around the globe. Celebrated in Kartik month as per the Hindu Calender, Diwali is the epitome of victory of light over darkness and good over evil. Indians decorate their houses with lamps and lights and reunite with their families and friends. Everyone wishes for good health, happiness and prosperity. The cultural significance of Diwali marks some of the greatest events in the ancient times and history of India and so the festival holds immense importance for the Hindus.
Diwali and its significance in the Hindu Mythology
As per the legends of the Ramayana, the story behind Diwali dates back to the time when the birth of Lord Vishnu in his Rama Avatar took place. The city of Ayodhya welcomed Lord Rama after his exile (Vanvaas) of 14 years and his victory over Ravana. The entire city was lit up with earthen lamps (Diyas) to welcome the king of Ayodhya and this is how the Indian festival of lights originated. The Hindus cherish the memory of Lord Rama and his ethics and honest practices on the day of Diwali
Diwali and its rituals last for 5 days with every day having its own importance and a tale to the beginning!
Day 1 – Dhanteras
Dhanteras marks the grand beginning of Diwali week. Celebrated on the thirteenth day of the Krishna Paksha of Kartik Month, Dhanteras is the day of prosperity and luxury. A large number of people buy gold, silver, pearls and other precious items on this day as per the customs and rituals.
In some parts of the nation, offerings are made to the Yama Raja (The God of Death) around sunset by floating earthen lamps along the riverside (Deepdaan).
Day 2 – Roop Chaturdashi
Primarily meant for women to dress up and offer prayers to the gods, Roop Chaturdashi or Naraka Chaturdashi is the second day of the Diwali festivities. People wake up early and take a bath, this is said to remove all sins and impurities. They wear new clothes and then pray to the gods for a safe and healthy life. The day is thoroughly enjoyed by lighting diyas and by bursting a few crackers.
According to the ancient history of Hindu mythology, this day is also termed Naraka Chaturdashi because Lord Krishna defeated a demon named Narakasura, hence marking the start of the celebration of Naraka Chaturdashi.
Day 3 – Diwali – Lakshmi Pooja
The main day and the prominent day for every Hindu is the third day of Diwali week. Goddess Lakshmi, the provider of wealth and prosperity is worshipped by Hindu families altogether. Prayers are made and the manifestations of goddess Lakshmi to bless one’s house are done. In order to welcome Goddess Lakshmi into the houses, people decorate them beautifully with hand-made rangolis and earthen lamps. The entire nation is enlightened with bright yellow diyas and it makes a heavenly sight to see the entire population come together and celebrate the grandeur.
This day itself is regarded to be the day when Lord Rama returned to the city of Ayodhya after being victorious over the evil of Ravana and establishing peace. Due to it being the day of Amavasya ( Dark night) the people of Ayodhya lit up their city with thousands of diyas to welcome their prince with pure love and respect. Since that day, it has been a prime ritual and even today, the Hindus follow this with sheer dedication.
Day 4 – Goverdhan Pooja
The fourth day of Diwali is widely recognised as the day of Govardhan pooja. The history of this day dates back to the time when Lord Krishna lifted the massive Goverdhan Parvat when Lord Indra was testing the fate of the people of Mathura. Since then, Goverdhan has been a sacred ritual and people offer prayers to Lord Krishna by creating miniature cow-dung figures outside their homes. Lord Krishna was known to be a cow-lover. Cows have been depicted as a holy animals in Indian culture as they are known to be home to 33 crore Indian gods and goddesses. And so on this day, cows are worshipped too.
Day 5 – Bhaidooj
Bhai means brother and dooj mean the second day. Just by the name, in the Krishna Paksha of Kartik month based on the Hindu Calendar, the second day is celebrated as BhaiDooj. Sisters tie bands to their brothers and the brothers in return make promises to protect and always be there for them. In ancient times, the brothers used to head to the home of their married sisters while for the unmarried ones, the roli-tikka ceremony similar to Raksha Bandhan used to take place. Even today the customs are relevant. Sweets are shared, gifts are exchanged and blessings and good wishes are extended. Bhaidooj is the epitome of love and respect and the day is very significant in Indian culture.
The five days of Diwali bring year-lasting joy and happiness to every heart. Love and light, hope and happiness, positivity and prosperity; literally everything begins with just the initiation of Diwali week. Firecrackers illuminate the sky and diyas enlighten the land. Everything about Diwali is golden! The festival of lights has its mythological importance as well and therefore, everywhere in the world, not only Indians but also global communities anticipate the brightening Diwali festivities.