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Diwali greetings to everyone!

26 October, 2008 by Sunit Nandi

Hello everyone!

My exam results are out now. It wasn’t that good but somehow managed to get 80.8%.

Now the Diwali/Deepawali/Deepavali fever is in the air, so, I’d like to give you all some info about it:

How much do you know about …**

**The WHEN, HOW & WHY of DIWALI!******

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**_Diwali is celebrated for 5 consecutive days_**

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*1^st Day of Diwali**: *The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi also called Dhan Teras. This day marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations.


It is celebrated on 13th lunar day of Krishna Paksh (the dark fortnight) of the month of Kartik.


On this day at sunset, Hindus take bath and offer a lighted deeya with Prasad to Yama Raj (the Lord of Death) and pray for protection from untimely death.



The legend is about a King Hima’s Son. As per his horoscope he was doomed to die by snakebite on the 4th day of his marriage. On that particular day his young wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid all the ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a big heap at the entrance of their boudoir and lighted innumerable lamps all over the place. And she went on singing devotional songs. When Yama, arrived in a guise of a Serpent, the dazzle of those brilliant lights blinded his eyes and he could not reach the husband. So he climbed on top of the heap of the ornaments and coins and sat there whole night listening to the melodious songs. In the morning he quietly went away. Thus the young wife saved her husband from the death. Ever since, this day of *Dhanteras* came to be known as the day of “*Yama-Deep-Daan*” and lamps are kept burning throughout the night in reverential adoration to Yama.


Another legend has it that, On this day, Lord Dhanwantari, who is the physician of the Gods and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, came out of the ocean which was being churned by the Gods and the demons with Ayurvedic medicine for the welfare of the mankind.

*2nd Day of Diwali**: *The 2^nd day of Diwali is called Narak Chaturdasi.


It is celebrated on the 14th lunar day of the dark fortnight of the month of Kartik


On this day, it is customary to massage our bodies with oil to relieve it of tiredness, bathe and rest so that we can celebrate Diwali with vigour and devotion.



One famous story behind this day is about the demon king Narakasur who was the evil king of Pragjyotishapura, a province to the South of Nepal, some claim that it is now in present-day Assam. In a war he defeated Lord Indra and snatched the magnificent earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi who was not only the ruler of Suraloka but also a relative of Lord Krishna’s wife, Satyabhama.

Narakasur also imprisoned 16,000 daughters of Gods and saints in his harem. Along with Lord Krishna, Satyabhama defeated Narakasur and released all the women from his harem and also restored earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi. The rescue of the 16,000 girls is said to be the origin of the story that Krishna had 16,000 wives.

As a symbol of that victory Lord Krishna smeared his forehead with the demon king’s blood. The womenfolk massaged scented oil to his body and bathe him to wash away the filth from his body. Since then the custom of taking bath before sunrise on this day has become a tradition. In South India People wake up before sunrise prepare blood by mixing Kumkum in oil and after breaking a bitter fruit that represents the head of the demon King, apply that mixture on their foreheads. Then they have an oil bath using sandalwood paste.


Another legend is about King Bali of the nether world whose mighty power had become a threat to the gods. In order to curb his powers Lord Vishnu in the guise of a Batu Waman- a small boy- visited him and begged him to give him only that much land which he could cover with his three steps. Known for his philanthropy King Bali proudly granted him his wish. That very moment that small boy transformed himself into the all-powerful Lord Vishnu. With his first step Lord Vishnu covered the entire heaven and with the second step the earth and asked Bali where to keep his third step. Bali offered his head. Putting his foot on his head Vishnu pushed him down to the underworld. At the same time for his generosity Lord Vishnu gave him the lamp of knowledge and allowed him to return to earth once a year to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance and spread the radiance of love and wisdom.

*3rd Day of Diwali**: *Actual Diwali


It is celebrated on the 15th lunar day of the month of Kartik on the night of NO-MOON.


This is the day when worship unto Mother Lakshmi is performed.



According to 1st one, on this day, Goddess Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagar, the Ocean of Milk, during the great churning of the oceans, Samudra manthan.


The 2nd legend relates to the Vamana avatar of Vishnu, the incarnation he took to kill the demon king Bali, thereafter it was on this day, that Vishnu came back to his abode, the Vaikuntha, so those who worship Lakshmi on this day, get the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.

*_HOW & Why – in different regions & religions?_*


*_In North India_*

Diwali celebrates Rama’s return from fourteen years of exile to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana. It is believed that the people of Ayodhya, lit oil lamps along the way to light their path in the darkness. */This is the reason, why the festival is celebrated a day earlier in South India since Lord Rama travelled from the south to his kingdom in the north/*.

*_Sikhs _*It is beleived that the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid on Diwali in 1577.*__*


Sikhs celebrate Diwali as the day when their 6th Guru, Guru Har Govind ji came back from the captivity of the fort of Gwalior city in 1619, hence also called as Bandi Chhorh Diwas. The Sikh tradition holds that the Mughal Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned Guru Hargobind and 52 other princes. Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned the sixth Nanak because he was afraid of the Guru’s growing following and power. The Emperor was asked to release Guru Hargobind which he agreed to do. However, Guru Hargobind asked that the princes be released also. The Emperor agreed, but said only those who could hold onto his cloak tail would be allowed to leave the prison. This was in order to limit the number of prisoners who could leave. However, Guru Hargobind had made a large cloak with 52 pieces of string and so each prince was able to hold onto one string and leave prison.


*Martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh Ji*

Bhai Mani Singh was a great scholar and he transcribed the final version of Guru Granth Sahib upon dictation from Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1704. He took charge of Harmandir Sahib’s (Golden Temple) management on 1708. In 1734, he received permission from Mughal governor of Punjab, Zakarya Khan for celebrating Diwali at Golden Temple for a massive tax of Rs. 5,000 (some authors say it was Rs 10,000). Invitations were sent to the Sikhs all over India to join Bandi Chhorh Diwas celebrations at Harmandir Sahib. Bhai Mani Singh had plans to collect the tax-money from the Sikhs who would assemble for Diwali Celebrations. But he soon learned that Zakarya Khan secretly conspired to kill the Sikhs during the gathering. He immediately sent message to all Sikhs not to turn up for celebrations & so he could not arrange the tax money. On failure of his plan Zakariya Khan ordered Bhai Mani Singh’s assassination at Lahore by ruthlessly cutting him limb-by-limb to death. Ever since, the great sacrifice & devotion of martyr Bhai Mani Singh Ji is remembered on Diwali or Bandi Chhorh Diwas.

*_For Jains_*

Diwali marks the attainment of Moksha (Nirvana, or eternal bliss) by the founder of Jainism, Lord Mahavira, on this day at Pavapuri on Oct. 15, 527 BCE, on Chaturdashi of Kartika.

*_In Nepal _*

Diwali commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakaasura. In Nepal, Diwali is known as “Tihar”. Here the festival is celebrated for five days and the traditions slightly vary from those followed in India. On the *1^st Day, *cows are given offerings, in appreciation of the food they have given and agricultural work they have performed. On the *2^nd Day, *dogs and all living animals are revered and offered special food. On the *3^rd Day,* celebrations follow the same pattern as in India, with lights and lamps and much social activity. On the *4^th Day,* Yama, the Lord of Death, is worshipped and appeased. On the *5^th and final day*, brothers and sisters meet and exchange pleasantries.

*_In Malaysia_*

Diwali is known as “Hari Deepavali,” and is celebrated during the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. It is a federal public holiday throughout Malaysia. In many respects it resembles the traditions followed in the Indian subcontinent. ‘Open houses’ are held where Hindu Malaysians welcome fellow Malaysians of different races and religions to their house for a sumptuous meal.

*_In Singapore_*

The festival is called “Deepavali”, and is a gazetted public holiday. Observed primarily by the minority Indian community, it is typically marked by a light-up in the Little India district and is most known for the fire-walking ceremonies not practiced as part of the festival in other countries.

* *

*4th Day of Diwali***


The next day after Diwali, it also marks the beginning of new Hindu calendar year.


On this day, Goverdhan Pooja is performed. Also called Annakut. For Annakut a mountain of food is decorated symbolizing Govardhan mountain lifted by Lord Krishna. In Maharashtra it is celebrated as Padva or BaliPratipada. Men present gifts to their wives on this day.



It is written in the Ramayan that when the Vanar army was building the bridge, Hanuman was bringing a mountain as material for the bridge. Midway he learned that that enough material has already been obtained. Due to lack of time, He could not return the mountain to its original place & placed the mountain down. The deity- Goverdhan presiding over this mountain asked Hanuman the reason for leaving the mountain there. Hanuman said that it should remain there until Dwapar Yug when Lord Rama incarnates as Lord Krishna in the form of man. He, Lord Krishna will shower his grace & it will then be worshiped in the ages to come.

During the Dwapar Yug, the people of Gokul used to celebrate a festival in honour of Lord Indra and worshipped him after the end of every monsoon season. Once, young Krishna saw these huge preparations & debated with the villagers about what their ‘dharma’ truly was. They were farmers & should do their duty (‘KARMA’) and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. Lord Krishna told them that it was Mount Govardhan (Govardhan Paevat) and not Lord Indra who caused rains therefore they should worship the former and not the latter. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and instead held special puja for the Montain. Indra was angered over this & flooded the village. Lord Krishna came forward to ensure their security and after performing worship and offering prayers to Mount Govardhan lifted it as an umbrella on the little finger of his right hand so that everyone could take shelter under it. After this event Lord Krishna was also known as Giridhari or Govardhandhari.

Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. */This aspect of Krishna’s life is mostly glossed over – but it actually set up the basis of the ‘karma’ philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavat Gita. /*

* *

*5th Day of Diwali** – *The fifth day of the diwali is called Bhratri Dooj or Bhai Dooj. This is also known as Bhai fota among Bengalis. In Gujarati/Marathi-speaking belt it sis called “BHAI-BIJ” and in Nepal by the name of “BHAI-TIKA”.


The last & final day of Diwali celebrations.


Brothers visit their sisters’ home and offer them gifts. Sisters also make various dishes for their brothers and also give gifts to them.



As the legend goes Yamraj, visited his sister Yami or Yamuna on this particular day. She put the auspicious tilak on his forehead, garlanded him and made special dishes for him. Both of them together ate the sweets, talked and enjoyed themselves to their heart’s content. Yama showered blessings on Yamuna and gave her a boon as a gift that if a brother visits his sister on this day he would be blessed with health and wealth. That is why this day of Bhayyaduj is also known by the name of “*Yama-Dwitiya*”
*Specific dates for Diwali till year 2010 are as below*

November 9 , 2007

October 28, 2008

October 17, 2009

November 5, 2010

Hope you all liked it! Wishing your all a very happy, prosperous, warm and enjoyable Diwali!

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