A 5-day long FESTIVAL! What's the deal with that?
Well, the story goes, no you don't want to hear the story behind that too so let me just give you the names of the festival on each of those 5 days. Here goes!
Day 1: Dhanteras
Day 2: Choti Diwali
Day 3: Main Diwali day / Lakshmi Puja
Day 4: Padwa and Govardhan Puja
Day 5: Bhai Duj
Diwali or Deepavali literally means Rows of Lights - How did this tradition begin?
Well, I need to tell you a story for this one but I promise to keep it short. Once upon a time there lived a very loving king called Lord Ram ............ let me cut to the chase King Ram, the banished King of Ayodhya returned back home along with his wife Sita completing 14 years in exile after defeating the demon Ravan, the King of Lanka, who had abducted Sita. The day King Ram returned back home was a dark, moonless night and hence inorder to honor and celebrate the homecoming of their beloved King, the people lit his path with oil lamps to guide him on his way. This is how the tradition of decorating homes and outdoors with oil lamps to mark the triumph of good over evil.
In rural areas of India, Diwali, which occurs at the end of a growing season, is a harvest festival. Harvests normally brought prosperity. After reaping their harvest, farmers celebrated with joy and gave thanks to God and the demigods for granting them a good crop.
At the time of the reign of Emperor Prithu, for example, there was a worldwide famine. He ordered that all cultivatable lands be plowed. When the rains came, the land became very fertile and grains were planted. The harvest provided food not only to feed all of India but for all civilization at the time. This harvest was close to Diwali time and was a good reason to celebrate Diwali with great joy and merriment by a wider community.
In the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata, the Pandavas also returned from their exile in the forest during Diwali time, giving people another reason for celebration.
There you go, now you have plenty of reason to celebrate this auspicious festival!
FROM DARKNESS Onto LIGHT!
Diwali is said to be the Festivals of Lights that is supposed to remove Darkness from our lives both literally and figuratively. As the rows of lighted Deepas removes Darkness from the surroundings, this Festival symbolizes the removal of Darkness that dwells within us as well. As this Festival marks the triumph of Good over Evil, we too must strive to make our Good Nature triumph over the Evil / Bad qualities we might have within us thereby removing all negativity from our lives. The age-old Diwali Clean-Up implies the Clean-Up of not only our home and surroundings but our personalities as well to become better human beings.
This day marks the auspicious beginning of the 5-day long Festival which is followed by Choti Diwali, Lakshmi Puja or Diwali, Padwa & BhaiDooj.. DHAN means Wealth and TERAS mean the 13th day as this day falls on the 13th lunar day of the dark fortnight in the month of Kartik. On this day at sunset, people cleanse themselves with a ritualistic bath and offer a lighted Diya to the Lord of Death seeking protection from untimely death. It is also said that it was on this special day that Lord Dhanwantari came out of the Ocean and gifted the world Ayurveda!
So this first day of Deepavali has a lot of cultural and historical importance to the Hindus. Though this is a Hindu Festival, the beauty of this Festival draws people of all religions thereby bringing alive the true spirit of warmth and friendliness which forms the cornerstone of any Festival.
HAPPY DHANTERAS !!!