Oct. 15, 2009
Gary Singh/Los Angeles
Sometimes people confused about the actual spelling
of Diwali. We conclude that this might happened due to different
languages spoken in India, location in India or and English translation
from different language. It is very clear that in southern parts
of India the festival is referred to as Deepavali, but as the
knowledge of Sanskrit diminished, the name was popularly modified
to Diwali, especially in northern India
Today Dewali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and
Jains across the globe as the "Festival of Light," where
the lights or lamps signify victory of good over the evil within
every human being. The festival is also celebrated by Buddhists
of Nepal, particularly the Newar Buddhists.The Sanskrit word Deepavali
means an array of lights that stands for victory of brightness
Diwali is a five day festival which occurs on the fifteenth day
of Kartika. During this time, homes are thoroughly cleaned and
windows are opened to welcome Laksmi, goddess of wealth. Candles
and lamps are lit as a greeting to Laksmi. Gifts are exchanged
and festive meals are prepared during Diwali. Diwali, being the
festival of lights, thousands of lamps are lit in and outside
every home on the day. Lamp or Deep is the symbol
of knowledge. Lighting the lamp of knowledge within us means to
understand and reflect upon the significant purpose of each of
the five days of festivities and to bring those thoughts in to
our day to day lives.
The first day of Diwali:
The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari
Triodasi also called Dhan Theras .It is in fact the thirteenth
lunar day of Krishna Paksh (the dark forthnight) of the month
of Kartik. On this day, Lord Dhanwantari came out of the ocean
with Ayurvedic medicine (medicine which promotes healthy long
life) for mankind.
This day marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations. On this day
at sunset,Hindus should bathe and offer a lighted deeya with Prasad
(sweets offered at worship time) to Yama Raj (the Lord of Death)
and pray for protection from untimely death.
This offering should be made near a Tulsie tree (the Holy Basil)
or any other sacred tree that one might have in their yard. If
there is no sacred tree, a clean place in the front yard will
The second day of Diwali:
The second day of Diwali is called Narak Chaturdasi. It is the
fourteenth lunar day (thithi) of the dark forthnight of the month
of Kartik and the eve of Diwali. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed
the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear. On this
day, we should massage our bodies with oil to relieve it of tiredness,
bathe and rest so that we can celebrate Diwali with vigour and
On this night, Yama Deeya should NOT be lit. The Shastras (Laws
of Dharma) declares that Yama Deeya should be offered on Triodasi
night with Prasad.
The misconception that Yama Deeya should be offered on the night
before Diwali came about some years ago when the fourteenth lunar
day (Chaturdasi) was of a very short duration and caused Triodasi
to extend into the night before Diwali. Some people mistook it
to mean that because Yama Deeya was lit on that night, that it
should always be lit on the night before Diwali.
This is absolutely not true. It is advisable that one consults
with a learned Pandit or Hindu Astrologer for proper guidance
on this matter.
The third day of Diwali.
This is the day when worship unto Mother Lakshmi is performed.
Hindus cleanse themselves and join with their families and their
Pandit (priest) and they worship the divine Goddess Lakshmi to
achieve the blessings of wealth and prosperity, the triumph of
good over evil and light over darkness.
The fourth day of Diwali.
On this day, Goverdhan Pooja is performed. Many thousands of
years ago, Lord Krishna caused the people of Vraja to perform
Goverdhan Pooja. From then on, every year Hindus worship Goverdhan
to honour that first Pooja done by the people of Vraja.
It is written in the Ramayan that when the bridge was being built
by the Vanar army, Hanuman (a divine loyal servant of Lord Rama
possessing enormous strength) was bringing a mountain as material
to help with the construction of the bridge. The call was given
that enough materials was already obtained. Hanuman placed the
mountain down before He could have reached the construction site.
Due to lack of time, He could not have returned the mountain to
its original place.
The deity presiding over this mountain spoke to Hanuman asking
of His reason for leaving the mountain there. Hanuman replied
that the mountain should remain there until the age of Dwapar
when Lord Rama incarnates as Lord Krishna in the form of man.
He, Lord Krishna will shower His grace on the mountain and will
instruct that the mountain be worshiped not only in that age but
but in ages to come. This deity whom Hanuman spoke to was none
other than Goverdhan (an incarnation of Lord Krishna),who manifested
Himself in the form of the mountain.
To fulfill this decree, Goverdhan Pooja was performed and is continued
to be performed today.
The fifth day of Diwali.
The fifth day of the diwali is called Bhratri Dooj. This is the
day after Goverdhan Pooja is performed and normally two days after
It is a day dedicated to sisters. We have heard about Raksha Bandhan
(brothers day). Well this is sisters day.
Many moons ago,in the Vedic era, Yama (Yamraj, the Lord of death)
visited His sister Yamuna on this day. He gave his sister a Vardhan
(a boon) that whosoever visits her on this day shall be liberated
from all sins. They will achieve Moksha or final emancipation.
From then on, brothers visit their sisters on this day to enquire
of their welfare.
This day marks the end of the five days of Diwali celebrations.
This is also known as Bhai fota among Bengalis. Bhai fota is
an event especially among Bengalis when the sister prays for her
brother's safety, success and well being.
The Origin of Diwali:
According to Ramayana, Diwali commemorates the return of Ram,
an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the eldest son of King Dasharath
of Ayodhya, from his 14-year exile with Sita and Lakshman after
killing the Ravan, a demon king. The people of Ayodhya illuminated
the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and fireworks to celebration
of the return of their king.
In rural areas, Diwali signifies Harvest Festival. Diwali which
occurs at the end of a cropping season has along with the above
custom, a few others that reinforce the hypothesis of its having
originated as a harvest. Every harvest normally spelt prosperity.
The celebration was first started in India by farmers after they
reaped their harvests. They celebrated with joy and offered praises
to God for granting them a good crop.
During the reign of Emperor Prithu, there was a worldwide famine.
He ordered that all available cultivatable lands be ploughed.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 civilisation. This harvest was close to Diwali time and was
a good reason to celebrate Diwali with great joy and merriment
by a wider community.
When Lord Krishna destroyed Narakasur on the day before Diwali,
the news of it travelled very rapidly throught the land.It gave
people who were already in a joyful mood, another reason for celebrating
Diwali with greater pride and elaboration.
In the Adi Parva of the Mahabarat , the Pandavas returned from
the forest during Diwali time. Once more, the celebrations extended
beyond the boundaries of India to wherever Hindus lived.
It is on the same day of Amavasya Swami Dayananda Saraswati,
that leonine sanyasin who was one of the first to light the torch
of Hindu Renaissance during the last century, passed into Eternity.
Swami Ramatirtha who carried the fragrance of the spiritual message
of Hindu Dharma to the western world, also passed into eternity.
The lights kindled on this day also mark the attempt of their
followers to immortalize the sacred memories of those great men
who lived to brighten the lives of millions of their fellow beings.
The passage of these great men have indeed brought the national-cum-spiritual
tradition of Deepavali right up to modern times.
Jain Festival Diwali:
Among the Jain festivals, Diwali is one of the most important
one. For on this occasion we celebrate the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira
who established the dharma as we follow it. Lord Mahavira was
born as Vardhamana on Chaitra Shukla 13 in the Nata clan at Khattiya-kundapura,
near Vaishali. He obtained Kevala Gyana on Vishakha Shukla 10
at the Jambhraka village on the banks of Rijukula river at the
age of 42. He initiated his shaashan (Jaina-shashana) on Shravana
KrashNa 1 at his first assembly at Rajgrah. After having preached
the dharma for 30 years, he attained Nirvana at Pava, at the age
of 71 years and 6 and half months.
In Punjab, the day following Diwali is known as tikka when sisters
make a paste with saffron and rice and place an auspicious mark
on their brothers foreheads as a symbolic gesture to ward
off all harm.
In North India on the day of the Diwali the children emerge,
scrubbed clean to get into their festive attire, and light up
little oil lamps, candles and agarbathis the wherewithal for setting
alight crackers and sparklers.
Likewise, on the second day of the month of Kartik, the people
of Maharashtra exchange gifts. In Maharashtra, it is the thirteenth
day of Ashwin, the trayodasi, that is observed as a festival commemorating
a young prince whom Yama, the God of Death, had claimed four days
after his marriage. Filled, however, with compassion for the luckless
youth, the legend goes, Yama promised that those who observed
the day would be spared untimely death, and so the lamps that
are lit to mark the festival are placed facing south, unlike on
other festive days, because south is the direction mythologically
assigned to Yama.
For the Bengalis, it is the time to worship Goddess Kali , yet
another form of Durga, the divine embodiment of supreme energy.
KALI is the Goddess who takes away darkness. She cuts down all
impurities, consumes all iniquities, purifies Her devotees with
the sincerity of Her Love.
Diwali is supposed to be a corruption of the word Deepavali,
the literal meaning of which in Sanskrit is a row of lamps.
Filling little clay lamps with oil and wick and lighting them
in rows all over the house is a tradition that is popular in most
regions of the country. In the north, most communities observe
the custom of lighting lamps. However, in the south, the custom
of lighting baked earthen lamps is not so much part of this festival
as it is of the Karthikai celebrations a fortnight later. The
lights signify a welcome to prosperity in the form of Lakshmi,
and the fireworks are supposed to scare away evil spirits.
For the grown-ups, there is also a custom of indulging in gambling
during Diwali. It is all in fun, though, in a spirit of light-hearted
revelry, and merrymaking.
The children can be seen bursting fire crackers and lighting candles
or earthen lamps. This is a time of generously exchanging sweets
with neighbors and friends. Puffed rice and sugar candy are the
Diwali is a time for shopping, whether for gifts or for adding
durable items to ones own household. The market soarseverything
from saffron to silver and spices to silks. Yet, symbolic purchases
are to be made as part of tradition during Diwali.
Whatever may be the fables and legends behind the celebrations
of Diwali, all people in India exchange sweets, wear new clothes
and buy jewellery at this festive time. Card parties are held
in many homes. Diwali has become commercialised as the biggest
annual consumer spree because every family shops for sweets, gifts
and fireworks. However, in all this frenzy of shopping and eating,
the steady, burning lamp is a constant symbol of an illuminated