Wishing you and your family a very Happy Diwali and a year filled with happines,success and prosperity. On this occassion I would like to introduce you all about the history, significance, origin of Diwali, Lakshmi pooja and how it is celebrated in AP.
Deepavali or Diwali, popularly known as the “festival of lights,” is a five-day Hindu festival which starts on Dhanteras, celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin and ends on Bhaiduj, celebrated on the second lunar day of Shukla paksha of the Hindu calendar month Kartik. Dhanteras usually falls eighteen days after Dussehra.
Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.These lamps are kept on during the night and one’s house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome.Firecrackers are burst because it is believed that it drives away evil spirits. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.
The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival is called the Naraka Chaturdasi. Amavasya, the third day of Diwali, marks the worship ofLakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day of Diwali is known as Kartika Shudda Padyami. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya, and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.
Several significant events associated with Diwali:
• The killing of Narakasura: Celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi, one day before Diwali, it commemorates the killing of the evil demon Narakasura, who wreaked havoc. In different versions, either Krishna or Krishna’s wife Satyabhama killed Narakasura during the Dwapara yuga.
Other events associated with Diwali include:
Diwali celebrations are spread over five days, from Dhanteras to Bhaiduj. All the days except Diwali are named according to their designation in the Hindu calendar. The days are:
1. Govatsa Dwadashi : Go means cow andvatsa means calf. Dwadashi means the 12th day. On this day the cow and calf are worshiped. The story associated with this day is that of King Prithu, son of the tyrant King Vena. Due to the ill rule of Vena, there was a terrible famine and earth stopped being fruitful. Prithu chased the earth, who is usually represented as cow, and ‘milked’ her, meaning that he brought prosperity to the land.
2. Dhanatrayodashi or Dhan teras : Dhana means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day. This day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month. It is considered an auspicious day for buying utensils and gold, hence the name ‘Dhana’. This day is regarded as the God Dhanvantari Jayanti (Birth Anniversary) , the Physician of Gods, who came out during Samudra manthan, the churning of the great ocean by the gods and the demons.
3. Naraka Chaturdashi: Chaturdashi is the 14th day This was the day on which the demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna – an incarnation of Vishnu. It signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.We wake up before dawn, have a fragrant oil bath and dress in new clothes. Light small lamps all around the house and draw elaborate kolams /rangolis outside of homes. We perform a special puja with offerings to Krishna or Vishnu, as he liberated the world from the demon Narakasura on this day. It is believed that taking a bath before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky is equivalent to taking a bath in the holy Ganges. After the puja, children burst firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As this is a day of rejoicing, many will have very elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet family and friends.
4. Lakshmi Puja : Lakshmi Puja marks the most important day of Diwali celebrations, We worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the God of auspicious beginnings also known as the remover of obastacles, and then light deeyas (little clay pots) in the streets and homes to welcome prosperity and well-being.
5. Bali Pratipada and Govardhan Puja : Lord Krishna defeated Indra and by the lifting of Govardhana hill to save his kinsmen and cattle from rain and floods. The day commemorates the victory of Vishnu in his dwarf form Vamana over the demon-king Bali, who was pushed into the patala.
6. Yama Dwitiya or Bhaiduj: on this day, brothers and sisters meet to express love and affection for each other. It is based on a story when Yama, lord of Death, visited his sister Yami(the river Yamuna). Yami welcomed Yama with an Aarti and they had a feast together. Yama gave a gift to Yami while leaving as a token of his appreciation. So, the day is also called ‘YAMA DWITIYA’. Brothers visit their sisters’ place on this day and usually have a meal there, and also give gifts to their sisters
Goddess Lakshmi Puja
Diwali marks the end of the harvest season in most of India. Farmers give thanks for the bounty of the year gone by, and pray for a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the agrarian cycle, and is the last major celebration before winter. Lakshmisymbolises wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.Those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.
As per spiritual references, on this day “Lakshmi-panchayatan” enters the Universe. Vishnu, Indra, Kubera, Gajendra and Lakshmi are elements of this “panchayatan” (a group of five). The tasks of these elements are:
- Lakshmi: Divine Energy (Shakti) which provides energy to all the above activities.
- Vishnu: Happiness (happiness and satisfaction)
- Kubera: Wealth (generosity; one who shares wealth)
- Indra: Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
- Gajendra: Carries the wealth
- Saraswati: Knowledge
Celebrations in Andhra Pradesh:
Diwali is one of the seven most important festivals of Andhra Pradesh. It is very popular with children who celebrate Diwali because of the excitement of bursting firecrackers.
There are some traditional customs followed such as buying new clothes for this festival. Buying new home or vehicles is considered auspicious. Special sweets are made too. Meat and alcohol are generally not consumed. Some areas host local stage story telling called Hari Katha.
Some areas may put a huge Narakasura dummy made with fireworks. This will be burst by a person dressed as Lord Krishna or, more accurately, a costume of Satyabhama, the consort of Lord Krishna, who actually killed the demon Narakasura; an event that is celebrated as Diwali for generations.
People clean/white-wash or paint/decorate their homes as it is a very auspicious day; to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity i.e. Lakshmi devi to their homes.Homes are lit up with hundreds of diyas and colourful Diwali Rangolis (link) adorn the doorways. After all this preparation all the members of the family perform the Lakshmi pooja.
Sales of expensive silk saris, jewellery, ornaments, and household goods increase. From the poor to the rich, everyone indulges in the largest shopping spree of the year. Sweets, which are an integral part of any festival in Andhra Pradesh, are prepared or purchased from shops.
The festival is full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships, and ancient traditions