Why Diwali is celebrated
Diwali or Deepavali, the festival of Lights is one of the most celebrated festivals across India. It is a five days celebration where each day holds a specific significance and offers a meaningful lesson to learn. Diwali celebrates the triumph of the Good over the Evil and Light over Darkness. It is a festival that brings people together. The word Deepawali is a Sanskrit word which literally means a row of lit diyas.
Let us now take a look at the various celebrations conducted on all the five days of Diwali along with their names, significance and the way they are celebrated in various parts of the country.
Day 1: Dhantrayodashi, Dhanteras, Dhanvantari Trayodashi, Yama Deepam
On this day people worship Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Kuber, Lord Yamaraj and Lord Dhanvantari. On this auspicious occasion, people purchase gold and silver ornaments. Also, buying gold/silver coins is one of the old practices people follow even today. It is said that on this day Lord Dhanvantari, God of Ayurvedic medicine emerged from the Ocean.
Day 2: Kali Chaudas/Narak Chaturdashi
The second day of Diwali is known as the Kali Chaudas or Narak Chaturdasi, On this auspicious day, Lord Krishna killed Narkasura on this day. This day is also celebrated as the ‘Choti Diwali’.
Day 3: Lakshmi Puja/ Diwali/ Deepawali
The third day of this auspicious festival is known as the actual Diwali Day. Goddess Lakshmi is venerated on this day along with Lord Ganesha. It is said that it is on this day that Goddess Lakshmi emerged out of the ocean during the event of Samudra Manthan. On this auspicious eve, people light diyas and perform Lakshmi Pujan at home and also burn crackers.
Day 4: Govardhan Puja/ Bestu Baras/ Vishwakarma Day
On the fourth day of Diwali different types of celebrations are carried out in different parts of the world. This day is celebrated as ‘Bestu Baras’ in Gujarat and as ‘Gowardhan Puja’ and ‘Vishwakarma Day’ in the North. It was on this day that Lord Krishna defeated Lord Indra, the God of rain and thunder. In cities like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, this day is celebrated as the Bali Pratipada where Lord Vishnu is said to have defeated demon King Bali.
Day 5: Bhai Dooj/ Bhau Beej or Bhai Teeka/Tilak or Bhai Fota
The fifth day of Diwali is celebrated as the Bhai Dooj, Tilak, or Bhai Fota in different states of the country. According to the ancient Scriptures, it was on this day, Lord Yamaraj visited sister Yami after a long time. She was so happy that She offered Him good food and applied Tilak on His forehead. Overwhelmed with this gesture Lord Yamraj asked what She wanted in return of the Tilak as a gift on which Yami said ‘She prays for the safety of Her brother’ and any brother who has a Tilak on his forehead which is applied by his sister must live a protected and long life. Thus, on this day sisters apply Tilak on the forehead of their brothers and pray for their long life.
12 Reasons Celebrated Diwali
Now that we know the significance of each day let us understand ‘Why is Diwali celebrated?’
There are numerous purposes to observe Diwali among which we have listed 12 reasons to give you a clear picture of why the Diwali celebrations are performed.
- The victory of Lord Ram
According to the Ramayana, after defeating the demon king Ravana in the battlefield, Lord Rama along with wife Maa Sita and brother Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after being in exile for a period of 14 years. People of Ayodhya were happy and welcomed them by lighting the whole kingdom with diyas. Hence, it is known as the festival of lights. Another reason for celebrating this day is the triumph of good over bad.
- The killing of Narakasura
Narakasura, a demon has created havoc in all the heaven and on Earth. The Gods and the humans were terrified due to His torture. He had also kept 16,000 girls in captivity. According to the ancient Scriptures, Lord Krishna killed Narkasura on the day preceding Diwali and liberated the ladies from his imprisonment. Hence, this day is celebrated as an end to evil.
- The birthday of Goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi is the Goddess of riches and prosperity. Her source lies in the Samudra Manthan. As per legend, both devas and asuras were looking for the Amrit in the milky ocean by churning it. During the churning process, a lot of heavenly articles exuded from the ocean. One of them was the beautiful and powerful Goddess Lakshmi. She emerged on the new moon day. On the darkest night of the year, Her marriage took place with Lord Vishnu. In order to eliminate the darkness, many diyas were lit and hence Goddess Lakshmi came to be related with Diwali and individuals performed Lakshmi Puja to celebrate Her birth and to seek blessings of riches and prosperity from Her.
An ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu was the clever and wise King named Mahabali, he was a humble man but over time he became egoistic of his riches. Learning this Lord Vishnu took the form of a dwarf Brahman in order to teach him a lesson. Lord Vishnu disguised as Brahman asked King Mahabali for a piece of land which was only three steps. On this, the arrogant King Mahabali said he had huge acres of land and that the Vamana can choose any acres of land he wishes. Soon after he said that Lord Vishnu grew taller and bigger in size so much so that when He took one step He covered the entire world when He took the next step the whole of the heavens was covered. King Mahabali understood that this poor Brahmana was none other than God Himself. He offered his head to the Lord Vishnu to place his feet. As soon as Vishnu placed His feet on King Mahabali’s head, King Mahabali was knocked down in the underworld and was liberated from the cycle of life and death.
- Hindu New Year
According to the Hindu calendar, this day is also celebrated as the New Year by the Hindu people. Businessmen and owners of small businesses perform puja on this day at their offices.
Diwali is seen by the Hindu people group as New Year’s Day. On this day, the business network offers puja at their workplaces to introduce thriving, pay every one of their obligations and furthermore start new record books.
- Coronation of Vikramaditya
The crowning ceremony of Ruler Vikramaditya, a great administrator, monarch and ruler who defeated the Sakas was organised on the Diwali day. The celebrations of this event are still observed.
- Harvest Festival
In the month of October or November, the auspicious festival of Diwali falls. It is a period when the crops are harvested and the harvest festival is celebrated. It is the year’s last harvest that falls at the same time as Diwali
- The return of the Pandavas
As mentioned in the Holy text of ‘Mahabharata, the five Pandavas (siblings Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva) returned back to Hastinapur after they were in exile for a period of 12 years. People of Hastinapur lit lamps to welcome them. They returned on the Diwali day, hence it is also celebrated in honour of Pandavas.
- Special Day for the for the devotees of Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Swami Dayananda Saraswati, 19th-century scholar, a Hindu reformer and founder of Arya Samaj attained Nirvana on the new moon day of Kartik (Diwali day)
- On Diwali, Goddess Kali is Worshiped
On Diwali, Goddess Kali is venerated in Bengal and Orissa. According to legend, a war was battled between the Gods and Demons. In the war evil spirits successfully won over the Gods. The Gods combined all their powers and Kali came into being. This ferocious form of Devi appeared dangerous. Kali slayed all the demons but in this process lost all control and started executing any individual who came in Her way. It was then when Lord Shiva came and laid flat on the ground before Her. She realised Her mistake and calmed down. Thus on this day, Kali Puja is performed.
- Special Day for the Jains for the Jains
The founder of the Jain sect, Mahavir Tirthankar, attained Nirvana on October 15, 527 BC. This day was the day of Diwali.
- Special Day for the Sikhs
The day is auspicious for the people of Sikh community. In 1619, during the rule of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, the 6th Sikh Guru Hargobind along with 52 other kings was set free from jail on Diwali. Also, the foundation stone was laid in 1577 of the Golden Temple at Amritsar on Diwali.
- Govardhan Puja
As per the “Vishnu Purana”, the villagers of Gokul, Mathura offered prayers to Lord Indra for showering rains on land and for helping them in agriculture and for giving them water. Lord Krishna disclosed to them that it was Mount Govardhan (a little hillock arranged at Braj, close Mathura) who caused the rains and not Lord Indra. He further said that they should thank and prayer over the Gowardhan hill instead of Lord Indra. The villagers followed Lord Krishna and began venerating mount Govardhan. This drove Lord Indra furious and he showered heavy rains in Gokul. The entire village was on the verge of being devastated when Lord Krishna lifted the Gowardhan mountain on the little finger and told all the villagers to take shelter beneath it. Thus, all were saved and Lord Indra learned His lesson thus from that day Lord Krishna was also called as Giridhari or Govardhandhari.
- Bhai Dooj
There are many legends that revolve around Bhai Dooj. One such legend of Lord Yamaraj and Goddess Yami, Also, according to another legend, Lord Krishna visited his sister Subhadra who offered Him, sweets, to eat and applied Tilak on His forehead and She in returned prayed for His longevity and prayed that if a sister applies Tilak on the forehead of her brother he will be safe and have a long life.