Deepavali - Beliefs and Rituals

Deepavali - Beliefs and Rituals

Diwali, a festival of lights is one of the biggest and most anticipated festivals of the year in India. The name Deepavali reminds of crackers, sweets, new clothes, and tasty food moreover it is not just a one-day festival but a five-day celebration with a lot of lights and participation in the family that brings unity and joy. This year, Deepavali falls on 24th October 2022. Deepavali starts with Dhanteras that falls two days before Deepavali followed by Naraka Chaturdashi/Choti Deepavali, Lakshmi Puja/Badi Deepavali, Padwa/Varsha Pratipada, Bhai Dooj is the last day of the 5 day Deepavali festival.

Dhanteras - 24th October 2022


 The first day of the five-day festival - Deepavali is Dhanteras. The first puja done is Lakshmi Kubera Puja that falls on 24th November 2022. "Dhan" means wealth, "Tera" meaning 13th day (Trayodashi as in Sanskrit). On this auspicious day people clean and paint their houses prior to the festival and make preparations to welcome Goddess Lakshmi and Kubera, treasurer of Gods who like to live in clean places. The house is decorated with Rangoli and footprints of Goddess Lakshmi are drawn at the entrance. On this day, people buy new jewels, precious metals, and stones, utensils, new clothes, etc. Later, Puja is done by offering flowers and fruits, songs, bangs, and prayers are performed to seek her blessings and the year ahead to flourish with prosperity. 

Legend behind Dhanteras
There is a famous legend behind Dhanteras, a story about the 16-year-old son of King Hima whose horoscope predicted his death by a snake bite on the fourth day of his marriage. His newlywed wife didn't allow him to sleep. She laid all her ornaments of gold, silver and other precious material at her doorstep and lit the lamp all over their room and narrated stories & sang songs to him. Yama, God of Death came in form of a serpent. His eyes dazzled with the reflection and brilliance of lamps and jewellery that were put all around the room. Yama not being able to enter the room because of the light, climbed the top of the gold pile and listened to intelligent new wife's songs and stories she told her husband. Later in the morning, Yama blessed the King with long life and left the room. The following day is called Yamadeepdaan, also known as Choti Deepavali. 

 This day is also called Dhanvantari Triodashi, which is about the legend Dhanvantari, the physician of Gods. The incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Dhanvantari appeared with Amrita Kalash that was churned from the ocean for Amrita by Gods and Demons. It is believed that he appeared on Triyoadashi in the Krishna Paksha of Ashvin month.

Naraka Chaturdashi/Choti Deepavali -24th October 2022

The second day of Deepavali is Naraka Chaturdashi. This day is also called Choti Deepavali and is celebrated as Kali Puja in West Bengal. In South India, people wake up early in the morning and take a gingelly oil bath before sunrise, wear new clothes, firecrackers, and share sweets.  

The legend behind Naraka Chaturdashi

The famous legend behind celebrations of Choti Deepavali or Naraka Chaturdashi is Demon King Narakasura. He had defeated the king of Gods, Lord Indra and snatched away the magnificent earrings of Aditi, the Mother Goddess, and imprisoned 16000 daughters of gods and saints in his harem. Lord Krishna killed the demon and liberated the imprisoned damsels and also recovered Aditi's precious earrings. The death of Narakasura on Chaturdashi is celebrated as Choti Deepavali in North India. 

South India celebrates Deepavali by waking up before sunrise with the eldest member of the family applying gingelly oil - that is mixed with lightly roasted rice, black pepper, in the head of each of the family members and taking Ganga Snan. It is believed that taking the oil bath in holy water cleans the evil and all the sins; purifying the soul. After bath people wear new clothes, ornaments, share sweets with friends & relatives and firecrackers to celebrate the joy. 

Lakshmi Puja/Badi Deepavali - 24th October 2022

The third day is the main day for celebrating Deepavali, on the same day Lakshmi Puja is also observed. People perform Lakshmi puja and shopkeepers in North India make new account books and start using them on the first day of Karthik month in Vikram Samvat(Hindu Calendar). 

 Goverdhan Puja/Padwa/Varsha Pratipada - 25th October 2022


The fourth day of Deepavali is Govardhana Puja and Padwa. Govardhana Puja otherwise called Annakut is celebrated in the account of Lord Krishna defeating Indra, King of Indralok. To symbolize Goverdhan mountain people make Annakut, a mountain of food is decorated that was lifted by Lord Krishna to save the people from the wrath of Lord Indra. This puja is observed in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.  

Padwa is observed as the new year in the state of Gujarat, unlike other states that celebrate the new year in the month of Chaitra, as per Vikram Samvat. The month of Karthik (8th month of Hindu Calendar) Vikram Samvat is celebrated the new year by North Indian businessmen since it is believed that the sun travels to Libra - scale/balance as in horoscope, and is the best month for balancing and opening new accounts after performing puja to Goddess Lakshmi the previous evening. 

 Bhai Dooj - 26th October 2022


The last and final day of Deepavali is called Bhai Dooj. This is a festival to honor the brother-sister relationship. On this day sisters pray for the long, healthy, and happy life of their brothers by performing a 'tika' ceremony and offering sweets to their brother. In return, brothers give gifts to their sisters.

The legend behind Bhai Dooj

Bhai Dooj is also called 'Yama Dwiteeya' as it is believed that on this day Yamaraj, the Lord of Death visited his sister who puts an auspicious mark on his forehead and prays for his well being. So it is believed that anyone who receives a tilak from his sister on the day of Bhai Dooj would never be hurled to hell.

Like all festivals in India, Even this festival aims in bringing the family together and spend quality time to share moments of joy with each other.

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