Deepavali Festivals

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Deepavali Celebration

Deepavali Festivals

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History of Diwali :

India is considered to be the land of festivals. And each of the festivals, which are celebrated here, has a reason or significance behind its celebration. Diwali the festival of light is also not an exception. It is celebrated across the country with lots of fervor and fun. Though the way it is celebrated differs from region to region according to the traditions and culture of that state but the reason behind its celebration remains same. The festival is celebrated by all there is no cast or age bar.

The festival brings light in everybody’s life. The festival symbolizes unity in diversity as every state celebrates it in its own special way. If we try to look for the origin of the festival we have to refer to history. And history tells us that the festival is celebrated mainly for four days commences on Aswayuja Bahula Chaturdasi and concludes on Kartika Shudda Vijiya. And each day has a significance and history behind its celebration. The first day of the festival Naraka Chaturdasi marks the killing of the demon king Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

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The second day is Amavasya and according to the legends Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, was incarnated on the new moon day ( amaavasyaa ) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean ( samudra – manthan ), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi. From that day she is worshipped as the symbol of wealth and prosperity. It is also said that on this very day Lord Vishnu rescued Goddess Lakshmi from the prison of Demon king bali and for that reason Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on the day of Diwali.

The third day is “Kartika Shudda Padyami.” On this day Bali would come out of Pathala Loka and rule Bhuloka as per the boon given by Lord Vishnu. Hence, it is also known as “Bali Padyami”. The fourth day is referred to as “Yama Dvitiya.” On this day, sisters invite their brothers to their homes. Whereas according to legends it is also said that Lord Rama returned from exile to Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile. To commemorate his return to Ayodhya, his subjects illuminated the kingdom and burst crackers. Goddess Kali is also worshipped during this time.

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Deepavali Dhanteras :

Dhanteras is an important part of Diwali celebrations. Dhanteras marks the first day of Diwali celebrations. Dhanteras is also called Dhanvantari Trayodashi. It falls on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Kartik ( October – November ). The word ‘Dhan’ signifies money or wealth. On the day of Dhanteras, people worship the Goddess of Wealth (Goddess Lakshmi). Since Dhanteras is associated with the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, it is a very important celebration in the homes of the mercantile community. In India, houses and market places wear a festive look on the day of Dhanteras and market places are abuzz with people all around.

Legend of Dhanteras :

Like most of the Indian festivals, Dhanteras too has some legends associated with its celebration. Let’s have a look at some of the popular legends that are associated with this Dhantears celebration.

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Legend of Dhanwantari :

Churning of ocean ( Samudramanthan ) by Gods and demons forms an important part of the Hindu mythology. It is believed that during the churning of ocean by Gods and demons, Lord Dhanvantari ( the Physician of Gods ) emerged out with a jar of Amrit ( elixir ) on the day of Dhanteras. Thus, the worship of Lord Dhanvantari has become a part of Dhanteras celebrations in most of the home.

Legend of Yamadeep Daan Ritual :

According to this legend, the sixteen-year-old son of King Hima was doomed to die of snakebite on the fourth day of his marriage. Aware of the forecast about her husband, the intelligent wife of the young prince made a plan to save her husband. On the predicted day, the wife made all arrangements so that her husband did not fall asleep. Bedsides this, she also put all her silver and gold ornaments at the entrance of the door and illuminated the whole place with lamps and lights. To insure that the husband did not sleep, the wife sang and narrated stories all through the night.

Lord Yama, the mythological God of Death, arrived in the guise of a serpent but the illumination caused by lights dazzled his eyes and he was not able to enter the room of the young prince. The legends have it that the serpent, mesmerized by the melodious songs of the Princess’s wife, sat on the heap of ornaments and spent the night and went away in the morning. Thus, the Prince was saved by the illumination of the lamps and devotion of his wife. This legend led to the popularization of the tradition of ‘Yamadeep Daan’. It is due to this reason, lamps and diyas are kept burning all through the night on Dhanteras.

Rituals and Celebrations of Dhanteras :

As Dhanteras is associated with the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, people draw small footprints with rice flour and vermilion powder throughout the house right from the entrance ( indicating the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi ). As Dhantrayodashi or Dhanteras is considered very auspicious, people shop for gold, silver and some utensils. To celebrate the auspicious arrival of Goddess Lakshmi, the homes of people are illuminated by oil lamps, which are lit throughout the night. Lakshmi Puja is also an important part of the Dhanteras celebrations. The Lakshmi-Puja is performed at midnight. Devotional songs, in praise of Goddess Lakshmi, are sung by the people. Goddess Lakshi is offered naivedya of sweets, which serve as the auspicious Prasad of the Goddess. In many parts of South India, there is a tradition of cow worship by the farmers ( on Dhanteras ). For farmers, cows signify wealth and are considered to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.

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Significance of Deepavali :

Deepavali is a festival where people from all age groups participate. They give expression to their happiness by lighting earthen ‘diyas’ ( lamps ), decorating the houses, bursting firecrackers and inviting near and dear ones to their households for partaking in a sumptuous feast. The lighting of lamps is a way of paying obeisance to god for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valor and fame.

It is one time in the whole year that children volunteer to leave their beds long before the day begins. In fact, the traditional oil bath at 3 a.m, is the only chore that stands between them and the pre – dawn adventures. They emerge, scrubbed clean to get into their festive attire, and light up little oil lamps, candles and scented sticks ( agarbathis ), the wherewithal for setting alight crackers and sparklers.

Competition is stiff, and even the little girl in silk frocks and their finery are watching out for the best sparklers and flowerpots, the rockets and Vishnuchakras, which light-up the night sky like a thousand stars. Grown-ups are the soul of generosity. Festive bonhomie abounds.

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Traditions of Diwali :

The literal meaning of Deepavali in Sanskrit is ‘a row of lamps.’ That’s why Diwali is called the festival of lights. As we all celebrate it by lighting of diyas in our home. It is a tradition that is popular in most regions of the country. Even today in this modern world it projects the rich and glorious past of our country and teaches us to uphold the true values of life. Every festival of India has such glorious and rich traditions that are portrayed through its celebration. Diwali is associated with many customs and traditions. Like the tradition of rangoli, tradition of burning crackers, tradition of lights, tradition of Diwali pujas and Diwali gifts Tradition.

One of the most curious customs, which characterizes this festival of Diwali, is the indulgence of gambling, especially on a large scale in north India. Rangoli is a traditional Hindu folk art; it is a kind of designs generally created on a floor on special festive occasions. The origin of this art can be traced to the Puranas (works on Hindu mythology). It is said that the tradition of rangoli originated in Maharastra and slowly disseminated to other parts of India. It gives a colorful look to the festival celebration.

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The festival of Diwali remind us of the brilliant display of colorful fireworks which explode in the dark nights. The cities are famous for these. It is an unique part of Diwali celebration. Now it has become an inseparable part of Diwali festival. Exchange of gifts is another unique feature of Diwali celebration. Diwali encourage people to gather and socialize with friends and family, exchange gifts and share home-cooked meals. The diwali gifts exchanged on this occasion reflect happiness, love and joy. Lighting of diyas is also an important part of Diwali celebration.

Lighting diyas brings divine brightness and joy with the hope of finding light in darkness, achieving knowledge where there is ignorance and spreading love where there is hatred. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. Diwali is also associated with pujas of different Gods. There are many legends and religious accounts to it. Lights and diyas are lit to signifying the driving away of darkness and ignorance, as well as the awakening of the light within us. That’s why the festival of Diwali is a true portrayal of the rich cultural and traditional values and customs of India.

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Legend of Deepavali :

Diwali, signifies as the festival of lights, which celebrates the abundance of autumn harvest and is dedicated to various gods and goddesses. The festival also marks an important date in the Hindu calendar, as according to legends the kingdom of Ayodhya celebrated the coming of Lord Rama after a long exile of fourteen years. The festival celebrates the coming of Lord Rama. The tradition of lighting diyas and candles dates back to history when the people of Avadha lighted diyas through out the kingdom to show way to their beloved Prince Ram, wife Sita and brothers. It is celebrated as the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.

Diwali also celebrates the power of the three goddesses, Lakshmi, Kali and Saraswati. Dhanteras is dedicated to Lakshmi, whose blessings are essential for a prosperous, fruitful and peaceful life. Kali – Chudash ( the day before Diwali ) is dedicated to Goddess Kali whose blessing gives us the strength to maintain the wealth we have. Strength, physical, mental and spiritual, is essential for all of us to lead a happy life. Diwali itself is dedicated to goddess Saraswati. Knowledge is the ultimate wealth, for it cannot be stolen from you; it is also the ultimate strength, for it often defeats brute force.
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There are various legends associated with the festival of Diwali. Some of the famous legends are as follows :

  • According to the legends Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, was incarnated on the new moon day ( amaavasyaa ) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (samudra-manthan), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi.
  • From that day she is worshipped as the symbol of wealth and prosperity. It is also said that on this very day Lord Vishnu rescued Goddess Lakshmi from the prison of Demon king bali and for that reason Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on the day of Diwali.
  • According to another legend Lord Krishna Killed the demon king Narakaasur on the day preceding Diwali, and rescued women from his captivity. The celebration of this victory of good over evil and celebration of freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day. According to the great epic ‘Mahabharata’, it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ when the Pandavas returned after twelve years of banishment.
  • The people of their kingdom who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps and by welcoming them. The celebration of Diwali is also associated with the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana and returning back to Ayodhya his hometown. The people of Ayodhya decorated the entire city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it to welcome their loving prince his wife and brother.

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Deepavali Festival Dates:

Whenever we talk of Diwali festival the first think that comes to our mind is when Diwali is celebrated or the date of the festival. Normally according to the Hindu calendar the festival of Diwali, which is celebration of truth and light is celebrated on a nation-wide scale on Amavasya, the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin ( Aasho ), which is usually the month of October or November every year. Here are the dates of Diwali for the coming years. They are as follows:

  • In 2012, Diwali will be celebrated on 13th November 2012.
  • In 2013, Diwali will be celebrated on 3rd November 2013.

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