Deepavali, the grand Hindu festival falls on October 18, 2017.It is the time for decorating homes, lighting lamps, buying new clothes, preparing sweets and sharing sweets and greetings with your dear and near. Deepavali is celebrated on the No Moon night in the month of Aippasi and it falls during October and November in the Gregorian calendar.
While most of us are in a festive mood to celebrate Deepavali with full zest and fervour, it would also prove good if we know the significance Deepavali and how it is celebrated in all parts of India.
The term” Diwali” or “Deepavali” means lighting of lamps. ‘Diya’ means lamp and Diwali is the lighting of lamps.in Tamil we call it தீப ஒளி (தீபாவளி). It means “a series of lamps lighted”. The lighted lamps on the day of Deepavali signify the removal of darkness by light, ignorance by knowledge and evil by good. There are many religious stories related to the celebration of Deepavali. All of them signify the fact that good becomes victorious over evil and it is good which is prevalent on earth in the end.
Deepavali is an age-old festival and references to this festival are found in Skanda Purana and Padma Purana.
1.’Diwali’, as it is called in northern parts of India, marks the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after his exile for 14 years from Ayodhya. After conquering Ravana in the battle, Rama returned to Ayodhya. When people of Ayodhya received the information that Rama was returning home, they decorated their homes and lighted lamps at homes to welcome Rama. This incident has been followed as a legacy and people celebrate the day as Deepavali.
2. Deepavali marks the birthday of Goddess Lakshmi. It was the day when Goddess Lakshmi was churned out of the Ocean of Milk and she got married to Lord Vishnu. It is also considered as the day when Lord Vishnu returned to Vaikuntam. So, people consider Lakshmi Pooja as very auspicious on Deepavali.
3. Naraka Chaturdashi is part of the celebrations of Deepavali. It is the celebration of the destruction of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna.Narakasura was an asura who gave innumerable troubles to people. When the people requested Lord Krishna to put an end to the atrocities of Narakasura, the Lord killed the Asura and restored peace in the hearts of people. This incident is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi in the southern parts of India and is deemed as the victory of good over evil.
4. Diwali is a celebration of the completion of the ‘vanvas’ and ‘agyatvas’ of the Pandavas.
5. Kubera is worshipped on Diwali for attaining wealth. Many people conduct Ganesh pooja on the day to get rid of the obstacles in their life.
Deepavali celebrations differ from region to region in India. It is a five-day festival in the northern parts of India and is mainly celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi in southern parts of India. The Jains celebrate it as the day when Mahavir attained moksha. The Sikhs celebrate the day as ‘Bandit Chhor Divas’ to mark the release of Guru Hargobind from the prison of a Mogul empire. The Newar Buddhists worship Goddess Lakshmi on this day.
Diwali starts with Dhanteras on the first day, Naraka Chaturdashi on the second day, Lakshmi pooja on the third day, Diwali Padwa on the fourth day and Bhai Dooj on the fifth day. It is celebrated as a five-day festival in northern and western parts of India and is celebrated as Kali Chauvas in Bengal.
People celebrate Dhanteras after 18 days from Dussehra. During this time, people clean, renovate and decorate houses. The entrances of the houses are decorated with Rangolis. The houses are brightened by lights. Dhanteras is considered as the birthday of Mahalakshmi, the day when she was churned out of the Ocean of Milk. It is also considered as the birthday of Dhanvantari who also came out of the Ocean of Milk. Dhanvantari is the God of health and healing. Praying to Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity and Dhanvantari, God of health on the day of Dhanteras brings all prosperity in life. It is considered auspicious to buy gold and silver articles on this day.
Naraka Chaturdashi is the second day in the five-day festival of Diwali. Narakasura was a demon who gave lots of troubles to the people. He was killed by Lord Krishna on the Chaturdashi prior to the No Moon day in the month of Aippasi.In Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, Telungana, Karnataka and Goa, Naraka Chaturdashi is celebrated as Deepavali. Special oil baths are taken by people and sweets are prepared at home to celebrate the triumph of good over evil as signified by the death of Narakasura.
Lakshmi Pooja is done in the evening of the third day. People worship Ganesh, Kubera, and Sarasvati. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi roams on the earth on Diwali night. People welcome Her through opening the doors and windows of their houses and lighting lamps inside and outside homes.
The next day of Diwali is celebrated as Padwa.It denotes the relationship between husband and wife. Gifts are given by husbands to wives and newly wedded couples are invited for special meals by the bride’s parents. It is like celebrating the wedding anniversary of the married couples. Some people perform Govardhan pooja in the worship of Lord Krishna on this day.
Bhai Dooj is the last day of Diwali celebrations. It celebrates the loving relationship between brother and sister. It includes the ritual of brothers and sisters sharing sweets, gifts, and conversations. It is like celebrating Rakhi.
In Tamil Nadu, people celebrate Deepavali over the death of Narakasura (Naraka Chaturdashi). They wake up in the early morning, take oil bath, wear new clothes, firecrackers, eat sweets, share sweets and greetings with friends and relatives and visit temples.
· People prepare a special oil with til, pepper and betel leaf for their bath on the day of Deepavali.
· They take Deepavali lekhiyam, a home-made medicine, made out of ginger and herbs for the purpose of digestion. This medicine helps in their easy digestion of the sweets, savouries and feast they consume on the day.
· People wear new cloths and fire crackers.
· They go to friends and relatives’ houses, visit temples and seek the blessings of the elders.
· Some families observe Kedara Gowri Vratam on this day.
Deepavali is a very grand festival which is celebrated with zest and enthusiasm in all parts of India.