The arrival of the Festival of Lights i.e. Diwali is marked with enthusiasm and grandeur. As the name suggests, the festival symbolizes the dispel of every form of darkness from the surroundings or negative vibes from life and literally welcoming the hues of brightness in such a manner that every corner of the place that is visible to our eyes has the capacity to cheer up our sad moods thereby switching on the need to indulge in a spirit of festivity. The beautiful tradition of lighting up each corner of the house with numerous varieties of lamps is a principal aspect of the festival of Diwali. Apart from using lamps as a source to rid away the gloominess of life or the environment, the strings of colourful lights with their soft music that are wound creatively around the fence, railings or walls of a house also has the capacity to light up the festivities. Meanwhile, the large boxes of sweets that are religiously gifted to each other as a mark of respect in the upcoming days of the festival also serve as sources of cheerfulness as it turns out to be a lucrative chance with which the sweet cravings can be satiated for a good number of days. The festival that is celebrated on the day of Amavasya of Krishna Paksha in Kartik month of the Hindu calendar is adored by everyone. While the religious aspect of Diwali brings hopes of positivity to adults, the kids love the Festival of Lights for the chance to gorge on the huge quantity of sweets and play around with sparklers (phuljhadi). However, it is the large number of lights that truly brings alive the festival of Diwali and brings vibes of cheerfulness to mortals of every age.
The five significant days of Diwali starts with Dhanteras and terminates with the celebration of Bhai Dooj.
The first day of Diwali i.e. Dhanteras is observed on the thirteenth day of the Krishna Paksha of the Kartik month. According to Hindu mythology, when the Gods (Devas) and Demons (Asuras) were engaged in the churning of ocean to obtain the Nectar of Immortality (Amrit), Lord Dhanavantari came out of the ocean on this day with the jar of the potion which they were desiring for along with a book of Ayurveda. As it is believed that the wisdom of Ayurvedic Science was first born on the day of Dhanteras, the Centre had decided to observe the first day of Diwali also as National Ayurveda Day from 2016 onwards. Another story associated with Dhanteras is that a king named Hima married his 16-year-old son to a girl with a lucky horoscope to save him from dying due to a snake bite. When the fatal day drew near, the boy’s wife hatched a clever plan to save his life. She placed all her glittering and precious ornaments near the main door and asked her husband to stay awake the whole night in order to listen to her songs. During the appointed hour of taking the boy’s life, Lord Yama, the god of death arrived in front of the house in the form of a serpent. The heap of ornaments obstructed the way of the snake and the dazzle of the ornaments also blinded its vision. Meanwhile, the melodious voice of the girl also pleased the snake and it seem to have lost sense of the time. When the time of taking the boy’s life elapsed, Lord Yama went away. Therefore, the idea of the girl saved the young prince’s life and the day also came to be observed as Dhanteras. As wealth played a significant feature in the two stories, Dhanteras is celebrated with a hope that the prosperity of a person may increase. On this day, people worship Lord Dhanwantri along with the God & Goddess of Wealth Lord Kubera and Goddess Lakshmi. For the wish of a long life, Lord Yama is also invoked on Dhanteras. Since the occasion of Dhanteras signifies the hope of getting wealthy, people purchase gold or silver coins, jewellery or items of any precious metal to attract good luck. In 2021, Dhanteras will be celebrated on 2nd November.
Known as Choti Diwali, Naraka Chaturdasi is celebrated in the fourteenth day of the Krishna Paksha of the Kartik month. This day signifies the victory of good over evil as it is believed that Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama defeated the demon Narakasur for his evil design of imprisoning and harassing about 16000 women to marry him. Apart from Lord Krishna being the hero, some regions also hold on to the story that it was Goddess Kali who killed Narakasur and freed the women that he had imprisoned. As Goddess Kali had won over the demon on fourteenth day of the Krishna Paksha of the Kartik month, the day is also known as Kali Chaudas (the Divine Mother who won over evil on the fourteenth). As the day arrives before the major festival i.e. Diwali, Naraka Chaturdasi is therefore considered to be an auspicious event and people thereby clean their houses thoroughly, decorate the floors of the house with Rangolis and light lamps to usher in the festive spirit. The beginning of the holy day is marked with people waking up quite early in the morning and taking a ceremonial bath by applying perfumed oils and special body packs (ubtans). During the second day of Diwali, people also wear new clothes before commencing the preparations of the religious rituals that is to be conducted on the main festive date. Naraka Chaturdasi will be held on 3rd November 2021.
The third day of Diwali heralds the coming of the main festive day which is celebrated everywhere across India mostly by lighting earthen lamps and bursting firecrackers. Popularly known as Deepawali, this day is hold to be a much sacred one as it is believed that Lord Rama came back to his kingdom Ayodhya with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman thereby dispelling away every sorrow of the inhabitants of the land. To celebrate the arrival of Lord Rama who came back after a long time of 14 years by defeating Ravana, the people of Ayodhya gave him an arousing welcome by lighting up every corner of the streets and bursting firecrackers. By holding on this traditional belief, people celebrate the main day of Diwali by lighting earthen lamps and bursting firecrackers. The auspicious day is also celebrated by worshipping Goddess Lakshmi with a hope to get prosperity and luck in the coming year. Meanwhile, Lord Ganesha is also worshipped grandly on the day of Deepawali as people consider this day to be a new beginning. Meanwhile, gifts are also shared among dear ones on this day and people gorge on a variety of sweet delicacies. Diwali will be celebrated on 4th November 2021
The day after the main festive event of Diwali is marked as Govardhan Puja. According to Bhagavata Puran, cowherds who lived near the area of Mount Govardhan in Vrindavan had a traditional practice of worshipping Lord Indra to mark the arrival of autumn season. However, Lord Krishna disapproved of this idea and asked them to venerate the mountain itself as it provides them with the natural resources required for their livelihood. As the people of Vrindavan adored their Kanha, they heeded his advice and started the ritual of worshipping the mountain. This step of the inhabitants of Braj offended Lord Indra and he send down a heavy downpour which caused incessant floods and caused much havoc. On seeing this, Lord Krishna lifted Mount Govardhan in order to save the lives of the people and their cattle. He continued protecting the people and the cattle under the shelter of the mountain till Lord Indra accepted defeat and stopped the storms. Therefore, Govardhan Puja is marked by worshipping Lord Krishna. A special ritual is done by making models of Mount Govardhan from cow dung and worshipping it. People also prepare 56 varieties of vegetarian food and drinks i.e. Chappan Bhog on the fourth day of Diwali and offer it to Lord Krishna as a gesture of gratitude. In 2021, Govardhan Puja will be held on 5th November.
The last day of Diwali is marked as Bhai Dooj. The day is marked to celebrate the beautiful bond between brothers and sisters. To mark this day, sisters invite brothers over to their houses and shower love on them by putting a tilak on their forehead and praying for their long and successful life. Moreover, the brothers are also pampered with much sisterly love on Bhai Dooj as it is customary for ladies to feed their male siblings or cousins with a delectable feast prepared with their own hands. Moreover, sisters give gifts to their brothers on the occasion of Bahi Dooj. One of the legends states that Lord Krishna visited the house of Subhadra after defeating Narkasur. His sister gave him a hearty welcome by doing aarti and putting tilak on his forehead. She also served him with a sumptuous feast. After getting pleased with Subhadra’s service, Lord Krishna declared that the day would be celebrated as Bhai Dooj. Another version states that the Lord of Death Yama could not pay a visit to his sister Yamuna for a long time due to his busy schedule. However, when one day he decided to surprise her by visiting her house, Yamuna welcomed her brother happily by doing aarti and putting tilak on his forehead. She also pampered him by cooking various kinds of delightful food items. Before leaving, Lord Yama asked his sister to seek a boon and she requested him to dedicate the day of his visit to siblings. The fifth day of Diwali i.e. Bhai Dooj will be conducted on 6th November 2021.