Deepavali, the festival of lights is round the corner. It is that time of the year to get your house painted, buy new clothes, jewellery, gifts, sweets, crackers and to clean your houses. It is time to cleanse one's heart and mind too. Well, there are many things to do but little time to act!
Why Deepavali or Diwali is so special? The festival spread over three to five days, is all about worshipping and appeasing Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. People also pray to Kubera, the Lord of finance for money on Asweyuja Bahula Trayodasi, which marks the beginning of Deepavali. Wealth is important to lead a peaceful life and more money to lead a more confident life. Lighting of earthen lamps and arranging them in and around the house is a longtime practice during the festival.
It is a belief that darkness signifies ignorance and light is the symbol of knowledge. Lamps are lit to drive away ignorance to usher in peace. In Karnataka, Deepavali is celebrated mainly on three days. Naraka Chaturdashi is celebrated on the first day followed by Lakshmi Puja and Bali Padyami. On the eve of Naraka Chaturdashi, "Neeru Thumbo Habba" is celebrated. All the utensils in the house are cleaned and filled with water. A puja is performed to the utensils used for bathing by applying arishina and kunkuma on them. The whole family takes an oil bath before sunrise on Naraka Chaturdashi and the younger members burst crackers.
Lakshmi Puja falls on Amavasya and the day is entirely devoted to worshipping the Goddess of wealth.
Lakshmi Kalasha (a coconut is placed on a silver vessel, which contains water, flowers, coins) is installed in the puja room and prayers are offered to invoke the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi. Devotional songs are sung in praise of the Goddess.