Diwali, the festival of lights that ushers in the Hindu New Year, is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, spreading happiness and wishing everyone a prosperous future. Though the festival has seen many changes over the years, people follow the many rituals of Diwali and soak in the festive spirit. Gone are the days when people used to have month-long preparations for the festival; getting their homes painted, preparing loads of sweets and delicacies to distribute amongst friends, and children making a beeline to the fireworks store months in advance to avoid the last minute rush and price hikes. One would hear small kids playing with their toy guns much ahead of the festival, setting in motion the holiday spirits across the country.
Nowadays, Diwali is more about shopping sprees where one can see colourfully decorated flex boards hanging prettily on shops and malls announcing the latest Diwali Bonanzas! Presenting gifts like stylish Italian-ware and furniture, consumer electronics like microwaves and LED TVs and tech gizmos like iPods, latest smartphones and even laptops to their loved ones have become the latest trends in gifting during Diwali. Amidst all this materialistic drama, there are folks who with little time on their hands, happily search for the best e-cards and messages to greet their friends and relatives on this auspicious festival.
The grand Diwali celebration is spread over 5 days and continues to be marked with different rituals that show how important Diwali is to each one of us. We present to you each of the Diwali ritual in a new light along with a golden wish for you to collect for yourself and your loved ones.
Dhanteras is the first day of the festival and is marked with customary purchase of gold, silver items and even new utensils as a sign of good-luck. In villages, cows are worshipped with special aartis and food offerings. This day is significant for businessmen who open new accounts to mark the beginning of a new financial year. People decorate their homes and offices, spread out beautiful rangoli designs at the house to welcome Goddess Lakshmi who is worshipped across the country for prosperity and well-being!
“May Goddess Lakshmi shower on you her immense blessings, enriching your lives with Prosperity, Happiness and Joy this Dhanteras!”
Kali Choudas / Naraka Chaturdashi
The second day of the festival is celebrated as Kali Choudas or Naraka Chaturdashi , also known as Choti Diwali, wherein the Goddess Kali is worshipped for killing the demon Narakasura. The festival is filled with rituals where people anoint their bodies with oil before bath and apply a paste called ‘ubtan’ that is made from gram-flour and turmeric. It is customary to have a head bath and some people even apply kajal in the eyes to ward off the evil eye. People wear new clothes and prepare delicious food and in the evening, families light earthen lamps and also burst crackers!
“Let your lives always shine bright, with the blessings of the heavenly might; May the Gods and Goddesses fill your homes with joy and laughter day and night!” Happy Choti Diwali!
Diwali / Deepavali
The main Diwali celebration is on the third day, on the Amavasya or New Moon day, where people rejoice by illuminating their homes with rows of lights and candles, welcoming Goddess Lakshmi to bless them with prosperity and happiness. The day also marks the return of Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman to the city of Ayodhya after 14 long years in exile and defeating the demon king Ravan. It’s celebrated with lot of fun fare as people dress up in new clothes, distribute sweets and gifts and indulge in fireworks that continue throughout the night. It is the most popular festival for the Hindus and people celebrate it with a lot of pomp and gaiety!
“May the twinkling lights of Diwali end all your troubles and pain,
Bringing Health, Wealth and Prosperity for a happy life full of gain!”
Govardhan Puja / Annakoot
This is the fourth day of the festival and is celebrated to observe Lord Krishna’s feat when he lifted the Govardhan hill with his little finger to give shelter to the cowherd clan of Brindavan from the incessant rains. Rituals include bathing the deities with milk and adorning them with precious clothes and ornaments; offering them sweets and large variety of delicacies. The festival is also celebrated as Bali-Padyami in South India to mark the victory of Lord Vishnu in his dwarf form over the demon king Bali; and also as Nava Diwas in Western India, when families celebrate the New Year by exchanging gifts and visiting each other’s homes to wish their friends and relatives.
“Let the dawn of the New Year fill your hearts with joy and happiness,
May you have a prosperous year ahead full of sweet memories and peaceful bliss!”
Happy Annakoot / Happy Nava Divas!
The last day of Diwali is dedicated to sisters and brothers and is called Bhai Dooj, Bhai Bij or Bhai Phota. Sisters invite their brothers for a sumptuous meal and brothers present them with gifts and have the feast together. Sisters perform a traditional aarti and apply tilak on the foreheads of their brothers as a gesture of love and special bonding between the two. It signifies the duty of the brother to protect his sister as well as the sister's prayers for a long and happy life for her brother.
“May this auspicious occasion of Bhai Dooj strengthen our bond; lets celebrate with sweets and prayers to keep our love for each other ever so strong!” Happy Bhai Dooj!
This Diwali forget your troubles and sorrows and welcome the festive spirit with open arms. Create a magical celebration and spread the cheer; make your loved ones happy with surprising gifts, sweet wishes and personalized messages to truly wish them a prosperous year ahead. Happy Deepavali!