Diwali- The Festival of Lights

Diwali 2017

Thursday 19  October 2017

Best Mahurat for Lakshmi Puja 2017

7:23 PM to 8:12 PM

Without light, there is nothing. Just imagine the world without Sun. No light, no life! This importance of light is truly exhibited in the celebration of Diwali- one of the most important and biggest festivals of India. Diwali is celebrated on Amavasya- the day of no moon. Naturally it has to be the darkest night of the month. However, the earthen lamps or ‘Diyas’ and now the modern electric strings of bright lights in every home of India makes it the brightest night- an extravagance for any pair of eyes! So, what is this lavish festival of lights for India and what does it signifies, how is it celebrated and what to expect on the grand day and night of Deepawali! Before knowing all this, let’s know the dates for this year’s Diwali Celebrations.
Diwali- The Festival of Lights

Deepawali- A Five Days Festival

Deepawali is a five day long festival which starts with Dhanteras and ends with Bhai Dooj.

  • Dhanteras– Thirteenth Day of Ashwin Month
  • Narak Chaturdashi– Fourteenth Day of Ashwin Month
  • Diwali – New Moon Day of Ashwin Month
  • Govardhan Puja– Prathma tithi or First Day of Kartik Month
  • Bhai Dooj– Dwitiya tithi or Second Day of Kartik Month

Diwali 2017 Date and Time

In 2017, Diwali falls on Thursday 19 October. As mentioned earlier, Diwali is celebrated on the day of Amavasya (Amavasya Tithi or new moon day) of Hindu Calendar’s Ashwin Month (Oct-Nov).

Goddess LakshmiThe best time of Lakshmi Puja on Diwali day is Pradosh Kaal Muhurat when the Sthir Lagna prevails. ‘Sthir’ means one that doesn’t move and ‘Lagna’ means time. It is believed that Lakshmi Puja done during ‘Sthir Lagna’ makes Goddess Lakshmi stay at your home.

Diwali Meaning

Now, its time to have some more knowledge about the festival of lights. Diwali is the term that has been derived from the word ‘Deepawali’. Deepawali, in turn, is made from two words- Deep and Awali. In Sanskrit, ‘Deepa’ means Diya or the earthen lamp and ‘Awali’ means row or line. As people from all over India, particularly from North and West India, decorate their homes with rows of kindled earthen lamps or diyas, the festival got the apt name- Deepawali, later called Diwali!

Why is Diwali Celebrated?

There are various reasons for celebrating Diwali. In fact, these are the beliefs and not exactly the reasons.

    1. As per the mythological story of ‘Samudra Manthan’, Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity appeared during the great churning of ocean by the Gods and the demons. As she appeared on the new moon day of the Ashwin month, she is worshiped on this day of Diwali.

Samudra Manthan

    1. It is believed that Lord Shri Rama returned to Ayodhya, his kingdom, after 14 years of exile and defeating Ravana. The people of Ayodhya, in their excitement of welcoming their true King cleaned their houses, made ‘Rangoli’ with bright colours, lighted each home and path of the kingdom with ‘Diyas’, decorated the whole kingdom with flowers and garlands, adorned new clothes, burst fire crackers, sang songs and danced together. From then onwards, this day was celebrated in the similar way which even continues till date. Deepawali, in fact, got its name from the rows (avali) of lamps (deepa) that the people of Ayodhya lit in order to welcome their beloved Lord Rama. As it was the grand homecoming of Rama after defeating Ravana, Diwali is also, after Dussehra, another festival to celebrate victory of good over evil.

Rama Returns to Ayodhya

    1. In South India, Diwali is yet again celebrated to commemorate the victory of good over evil evident in the story of Narakasura, a demon king of Assam. It was on the day of Chaturdashi, the day before Amavasya, when Narakasura was killed by Satyabhama, one of the wives of Lord Krishna. Narakasura was able to gain a boon from Lord Brahma after great penance that he could only be killed by his mother, Bhumadevi (Mother Earth). Satyabham is the incarnation of Bhumadevi. It is believed that before dying, Narakasura realized his sins and when asked by Krishna about his last wish, he said that he wanted to enjoy the last day of his life in a grand manner and thus Deepawali was celebrated which continues to be celebarted till today.

Narakasura Vadh by Satyabhama

    1. In West Bengal, Odisha and Assam, Diwali is celebrated as Kali Puja. It is believed that Goddess Kali took birth from the forehead of Goddess Durga when she got angry after listening to the stories of destruction by demons. Maa Kali’s birth meant to end the cruelty of demons that had crossed all its limits after the demons had defeated the Gods. Even after killing the demons, kali did not stop and strated destroying everything and killing everyone who came her way. To stop her from this wrong doing, Lord Shiva threw himself under her feet. Looking at this, Kali was shocked and stuck her tongue out in repentance. The idol of Goddess Kali always display her feet on the chest of Lord Shiva and her tongue stuck out. Kali Puja on Diwali day is believed to have been initiated by the King Krishnachandra of Navadvipa in Bengal in 18th century. Kali Puja gained popularity in the 19th century and is till now celebrated in east India, on the day of Diwali.

Goddess Kali

    1. In Rajasthan and Gujarat, Diwali is celebrated as the New Year day. In fact, Diwali marks the end of harvest season in almost whole of India and this is one of the many festivals to thank God for the prosperity granted to people here. As India is agrarian economy, its business cycle also depends upon the beginning and end of harvest season. The two biggest business communities of India, Marwari and Gujarati, close their yearly accounts and begin new ‘Bahi Khata’ (Accounts Book) for the coming new year on Diwali day.

Diwali Puja Worship

Diwali Celebrations

Having so many reasons for celebrating Diwali, people look over excited and exuberant with joy. Everywhere there is cheerfulness, laughter, preparations and mood of celebration like never in the year! The preparation begins a month ago with thorough annual cleaning of house. Not only cleaning, people also repair and paint their homes. New clothes are bought for each member of the family. Gifts are brought and even prepared for friends and relatives.
Diwali Market
The actual celebration of Diwali starts three days before Deepawali day. Yes, it is the thirteenth day of Ashwin month which is celebrated as Dhan Teras. On this day, people just get into buying spree as it is believed that buying on this day ensues prosperity in future. People buy everything. Traditionally, on Dhan Teras, gold, silver, jewellery, and utensils were the choice of items to be bought. With modern ways influencing the buying on Dhan Teras, people now even buy electronics goods including TV, Mobile phones, Cameras as well as furniture and what not! In fact, Diwali, and more appropriately Dhan Teras is the occasion when no one controls his wallet and everyone can be seen spending lavishly. They, after all, save a good amount of money to be spent on Diwali!
Rangoli on Diwali
After Dhan Teras, the fourteenth day of Ashwin month is celebrated as Chhoti Diwali (Small Diwali). On this day, women of the family prepare sweets and decorate homes with flowers and ‘Rangoli’. In the evening, ‘Diyas’ are also lit. However, the number of diyas are limited so that the grand day of Diwali can have the most bright lights. Firecrackers are also burst but on a smaller scale. That’s why, it is known as Chhoti Diwali.
Diwali Diya Candles
On the fifteenth day of new, the day of Amavasya, Diwali is celebrated in the most grand manner by everyone. People wear new clothes and jewellery, worship Goddess Lakshmi, lit diyas and candles, burst crackers, visit friends and relatives, give them gifts, have sweets and other delicious food. Many of them also play cards with friends as it is said to be auspicious to play cards on Diwali. Nowadays, many Diwali Mela (fairs) are also organized. People go to these fairs and enjoy various food, sweets, cultural programmes and buy a wide range of household things as also crafts etc. from the stalls at the fairs.
Diwali Decoration in Market
For shopkeepers also, Diwali is very important festival. Those who own shops or offices, perform Lakshmi Puja (worship) in their offices too along with their homes. The markets get bathed with lights on Diwali. Each and every shop is decorated with strings of light bulbs of various colours, shapes and sizes. Not only strings, markets are decorated with creative lighting and at many places, competitions are held where markets are judged on their innovative style of light decoration. To see the lighted markets in the evening of Diwali is also one of the main attractions for people, especially kids.
Diwali Lighting and Crackers
Diwali is, in its right sense, the festival of lights. Many foreign tourists plan to visit India on the occasion of Diwali to see with their own eyes the grandeur of Diwali celebrations and to feel the true joy of festivities. On Diwali, the Sanskrit Shloka having this sentence in it – “Tamso Ma Jyotirgamaya” – loses all its spiritual meaning of leading towards the light of knowledge from the darkness of ignorance and embodies materialistic meaning where there is glow of wealth, prosperity shown in lights everywhere. On Diwali, there is light, very bright light, wherever you go in India! It is the ‘Festival of Lights’

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