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Diwali, Dipavali, Divali or Deepawali


Diwali or Deepavali, Dipavali, Divali or Deepawali
Today Dewali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the globe

Oct. 15, 2009
Gary Singh/Los Angeles
Munish Gupta/Ludhiana

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 over darkness.

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 suffice.

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 devotion.
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.

Actual 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 Diwali day.
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:

Hindu Mythology:

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 brother’s 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 favorite fares.

Diwali is a time for shopping, whether for gifts or for adding durable items to one’s own household. The market soars—everything 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 mind.