In the midst of today’s busy lifestyle, Diwali gives an opportunity to pause and be grateful for what we have, to make special memories with family and friends, to laugh and enjoy what life offers us. Though the festival of Diwali has undergone some changes, in due course of time, yet it has continued to be celebrated since the time immemorial.
Every year, the festive season of Diwali comes back with all the excitement and merriment. Diwali literally means rows of diyas (clay lamps). It also marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and Lord Ganesha is worshipped.
It is considered a positive time for shopping, starting new ventures, business deals and house warming. On this day, doorways are lit up and decorated with Rangoli or traditional patterns to welcome the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.
The festival is a symbolic representation of the lifting of spiritual darkness. The celebration of the Diwali festival stretches for five days.
All the days except Diwali are named using the designation in the Indian calendar. A lunar half-month is 15 days. Diwali as a new-moon day marks the last day of a 15-day period. All the five days are as under:
Dhanteras: Dhan means "wealth" and Teras means "13th day". Thus, as the name implies, this day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month. It is an auspicious day for shopping of gold & Silver Ornaments, Idols & Coins and God VantrasNaraka Chaturdasi: Chaturdasi is the fourteenth day on which demon Narakasura was killed. It signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. This day is also called as Choti Diwali.
Diwali: The actual day of Diwali, is celebrated on the third day of the festival, when the moon completely wanes and total darkness sets in the night sky. Laxmi puja occurs on this third day. Deity Laxmi the goddess of wealth and prosperity is welcomed by offering traditional pujas. The business community places their accounting books in front of the Laxmi deity and offers puja for the well being of the business.
Govardhan puja: The Fourth day is Govardhan Puja or also called Annakut, is celebrated as the day Krishna defeated Indra. For Annakut a mountain of food is decorated symbolizing Govardhan Mountain lifted by Lord Krishna. Govardhan puja is a significant event in the villages. People worship the holy cows by smearing vermillion and sandal wood paste on its forehead and offers special prayers for the well being of cows.
Bhai dooj: The fifth day, the last day of Diwali is marked by Bhai dooj. The sisters offer prayers for the general well being of their brothers. Gifts are exchanged expressing brotherly feelings of love and affection.
People wake up at the crack of dawn to conduct the customary pujas. Dressed in brilliant silks and glittering gold jewelry families gather and light crackers to usher in the great evening. After a session of bursting crackers, its time to visit friends and relatives. Armed with sweets and savories people meet their near and dear ones.
Diwali is such a wonderful festival, a time of giving and sharing, a time to catch up with people, in other words its time to catch up with the little joys that we keep overlooking for the remaining part of the year.