Preparation include cleaning, renovating and decorating
their homes and offices. During the celebration, people adorn themselves
in their finest clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their
homes with diyas that could be lamps or candles, offer puja to Lakshmi,
the goddess of prosperity, light fireworks, do family feasts, where
sweets and gifts are shared. The festival is an annual homecoming and
bonding period not only for families, but also for communities and
associations. In urban areas, people organise activities, events and
gatherings. Many towns organise community parades and fairs with parades
or music and dance performances in parks. Some Hindus, Jains and Sikhs
will send Diwali greeting cards to family near and far during the
festive season, occasionally with boxes of Indian confectionery. Diwali
is a post-harvest festival to thank Goddess Lakshmi for the recent
harvests and seek her blessings for prosperous future crops. Lakshmi
symbolises three virtues: wealth and prosperity, fertility and abundant
crops, as well as good fortune. Merchants seek Lakshmi's blessings in
their ventures and will ritually close their accounting year during
The five days of festival formally begins two days before the
night of Diwali, and ends two days thereafter. Each day has different
rituals and significance. These are as below:
one is celebrated as Dhanteras. The word Dhanteras is derived from Dhan
meaning wealth and teras meaning thirteenth. It marks the thirteenth day
of the dark fortnight of Kartik and the beginning of Diwali. On this
day, many Hindus clean their homes and business premises. The
doorways within homes and offices are decorated with rangoli, colourful
designs made from rice flour, flower petals and coloured sand. Diyas are
installed near Lakshmi and Ganesha that light up for the next five
days. The day also marks a major shopping day to purchase new utensils,
home equipment, jewellery, firecrackers, and other items. On the
evening of Dhanteras, families offer prayers to Lakshmi and Ganesha, and
lay offerings of puffed rice, candy toys, rice cakes and batashas
(hollow sugar cakes). Dhanteras is a symbol of annual renewal,
cleansing and an auspicious beginning for the next year. The term "Dhan"
for this day also refers to the Ayurvedic icon Dhanvantari, who is
considered as the god of health and healing. He is believed to have
emerged from the "churning of cosmic ocean" on the same day as Lakshmi.
Some communities, particularly those active in Ayurvedic and
health-related professions, pray or perform havan rituals to Dhanvantari
Choti Diwali, Naraka Chaturdasi:
Day two is
celebrated as Choti Diwali, Naraka Chaturdasi. The term "choti" means
little, while "Naraka" means hell and "Chaturdasi" means "fourteenth".
It is day to do prayer and rituals to to liberate any souls from their
suffering in "Naraka", or hell, as well as a reminder of spiritual
auspiciousness. It is also a day to pray for the peace to the manes, or
deified souls of ancestors and light their way for their journeys in the
cyclic afterlife. The day marks the the destruction of the asura
(demon) Narakasura by Krishna, a victory that frees 16,000 imprisoned
princesses kidnapped by Narakasura. Naraka Chaturdasi is also a
major day for purchasing festive foods, particularly sweets such as
laddus, barfis, halvah, kachoris, shrikhand, and sandesh, rolled and
stuffed delicacies, such as maladu, susiyam, pottukadalai. Choti
Diwali is also a day for visiting temples, friends, business associates
and relatives, and exchanging gifts. This day is commonly celebrated as
Diwali in Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Karnataka. Traditionally, South Indian
Hindus receive an oil massage from the elders in the family on the day
and then take a ritual bath before sunrise.
Diwali, Lakshmi Puja:
third day is celebrated as Diwali, Lakshmi Puja which is the height of
the festival. The word Deepawali comes from the word the Sanskrit word
deep, which means an Indian lamp. In the evening celebrants will wear
new clothes or their best outfits and do Lakshmi puja. After the puja,
people go outside and celebrate by lighting up patakhe (fireworks)
together, and then share a family feast and mithai.
Annakut, Padwa, Govardhan puja:
fourth day is celebrated as Annakut, Padwa, Govardhan puja. The day is
associated with the story of Bali's defeat at the hands of Vishnu. It is
also celebrated honouring the Hindu god Krishna saving the cowherd and
farming communities from incessant rains and floods triggered by Indra's
anger, which he accomplished by lifting the Govardhan mountain. Ritually
this day is celebrated as the bonding between the wife and husband.
Husbands will celebrate this with gifts to their wives. In some regions,
parents invite a newly married daughter, or son, together with their
spouses to a festive meal and give them gifts. The artisan Hindu and
Sikh community celebrates the fourth day as the Vishwakarma puja.
Vishwakarma is the presiding Hindu deity for those in architecture,
building, manufacturing, textile work and crafts trades. On this day the
looms, tools of trade, machines and workplaces are cleaned and prayers
offered to these livelihood means.
Bhai Duj, Bhau-beej:
fifth day is celebrated as Bhai Duj, Bhau-beej. It celebrates the
sibling bond between brother and sister, similar in spirit to Raksha
Bandhan. This is a day in autumn when brothers travel to meet their
sisters, or invite their family to their village to celebrate the
bonding between them with the bounty of seasonal harvests.
The Diwali celebration also varies for different communities.
Jain tradition, Diwali is celebrated in observance of 'Mahavira Nirvana
Divas'. This is the day of physical death and final nirvana of
Mahavira. Diwali celebrated by Jains in many parts of India which is
similar to the Hindu Diwali. They also involve in lighting of lamps and
the offering of prayers to Lakshmi. However, the focus of the Jain
Diwali remains the dedication to Mahavira. According to the Jain
tradition, this practice of lighting lamps first began on the day of
Mahavira's nirvana in 527 BCE, when 18 kings who had gathered for
Mahavira's final teachings issued a proclamation that lamps be lit in
remembrance of the "great light, Mahavira".
This is believed to be
the origin of Diwali. The significance of this tradition is reflected in
the historic artworks of Jains such as paintings.
celebrate Diwali as Bandi Chhor Divas in remembrance of the release of
Guru Hargobind from the Gwalior Fort prison by the Mughal emperor,
Jahangir, and the day he arrived at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.Diwali
in the Sikh tradition is older than the sixth Guru Hargobind legend.
According to sikh history, Guru Amar Das, the third Guru of the Sikhs,
built a well in Goindwal with eighty-four steps and invited Sikhs to
bathe in its sacred waters on Baisakhi and Diwali as a form of community
bonding. Over time, these spring and autumn festivals became the most
important of Sikh festivals and holy sites such as Amritsar became focal
points for annual pilgrimages.
Except for the
Newar people of Nepal Diwali is not a festival for most Buddhists. The
Newars revere various deities in the Vajrayana Buddhism and celebrate
Diwali by offering prayers to Lakshmi. The worship of Lakshmi and Vishnu
during Diwali, is not syncretism but rather a reflection of the freedom
within Mahayana Buddhist tradition to worship any deity for their
worldly betterment. Newar Buddhists in Nepalese valleys also celebrate
the Diwali festival over five days, in much the same way, and on the
same days, as the Nepalese Hindu Diwali-Tihar festival.