What is Diwali?
Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness which is why Diwali is also known as the festival of lights. People worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha on this day as they are believed to bring good luck, prosperity and wealth.
Rama-chandra, the seventh avatar (incarnation of the god Vishnu). is the hero of the story of Diwali, rescuing the kidnapped Sita from her captor, the evil Ravana. In the story of Diwali, Diyas (small lamps made of clay with Ghee or oil used as the fuel and cotton wool as the wick) are used to light the way for Rama-Chandra and Sita’s return home.
Day 1 – Dhanteras
This marks the beginning of the five-day long Diwali festival. On Dhanteras, people
traditionally purchase some gold or silver or at least one or two utensils. It is believed that purchasing some form of precious metal is a sign of good luck.
Day 2 – Narak Chaturdasi
The second day of Diwali is also known as Choti Diwali. Traditionally, on this day, before sunrise people take an oil bath with Ubtan (a powdered mix of Ayurvedic herbs and natural ingredients).
Day 3 – Lakshmi Puja
This is the main day of Diwali celebration and the entire focus is on the goddess Lakshmi Puja. On this day people keep the house spotlessly clean and pure to welcome Lakshmi.
Diyas (lamps) are lit in the evening and Lakshmi Puja is performed in every household. People also distribute sweets and gifts among friends and family
Day 4 – Govardhan Puja
Also known as Padwa, it marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat – the historical Hindu calendar used on the Indian subcontinent and the official calendar of Nepal started from this day. In southern India Gudhi Padwa is celebrated, which is a symbol of love between husband and wife.
In northern Indian states, Govardhan Puja is celebrated in commemoration of the lifting of Mount Govardhan by Lord Krishna.
Day 5 – Bhai Dooj
The final day of Diwali when sisters pray for the long life of brothers. Brothers in return give gifts to their sisters as a token of love.