Diwali (Deepavali), the festival of lights, is the most celebrated Hindu festival in India and even in USA, UK, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.. Diwali is a five-day festival celebrated throughout the country on Kartik Amavasya, No Moon day in Kartik month. It falls in Ashwin month (Ashwayuja masam) in Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, and Telugu calendars.
Diwali 2012 date is November 13, Tuesday. Read Diwali in 2012 post to know more about it.
Diwali means ‘Deepa Shreni’ i.e. an array of lamps. The important legend associated with Diwali festival is of Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya from Lanka after slaying the demon Ravan. It also marks the return of Ram from his 14 years of Aranya vaas (exile period). Sita welcomed him with an array of lamps and since then this day is celebrated as Diwali festival. Return of Ram is the most popular Diwali legend in North India.
Another important legend is demolition of the demon Narakasur by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. This is the very popular legend of Diwali in South India. In Bengal on Diwali Kali Puja is performed. A legend of Kali says that the Goddess demolished the demon Raktabhija.
The Five Days of Diwali – Five Festivals
Dhanteras or Dhana Trayodasi
This is the first day of Diwali festival. Dhanteras Lakshmi Puja and Dhanvantari Puja are the main rituals of this day. It is also celebrated as Dhanvantari Jayanti, the birthday of Lord Dhanvantari, God of Ayurveda or Medicine in Hinduism.
Narak Chaturdashi / Choti Diwali
Narak Chaturdashi, also popular as Choti Diwali, is the day when Lord Krishna and Satyabhama killed Narakasura. It is also celebrated as Kali Choudas / Kali Chaturdashi in Western parts of India. Roop Choudas is another name for this festival in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Kartik Amavasya (Ashwin Amavasya in Amavasyant calendars) is the actual Diwali day. It is the third day of Diwali and on this day, Dhan Lakshmi Puja is observed. Diwali is also celebrated as ‘Kali Puja’ in West Bengal and some other Eastern parts of India.
Bali Pratipada / Govardhan Puja
The following day of Diwali (fourth day of Diwali) is celebrated as Govardhan Puja and Bali Pratipada (Bali Padyami puja). Kartik Shukla Pratipada or Kartik Sud 1 also marks the Gujarati New Year (Nutan Varsh).
Bhai Dooj / Bhau Beej / Bhaiyya Dhooj / Bhai Tika / Bhai Phonta
Known various as Bhai Dhooj, Bhau Beej, Bhayya Dhook, Bhai Tika, Bhai Phonta, Bhatry Dwitiya, the second day after Diwali marks the love and affection between brothers and sisters. The festival symbolizes the sacred relationship of brothers and sisters.
To know about Diwali Lakshmi Puja procedure, Puja Vidhi and vidhanam, continue reading this article…