Diwali is close and I am reminded of the happy times spent during diwali in my childhood and how big a deal it was! Diwali in my family was one festival where all my uncle and aunts would plan to visit us every year, no matter which part of the world they were in. Since I grew up in the north, Diwali holidays were just for 4-5 days and we always had our midterm exams after them. But during the first few days of diwali we would keep our pens and books in the pooja room and only pick it up on ‘bhai dooz’ (a festival where the sister pledges to protect her brother against any odds). That used to be one of the favourable reasons for me to like Diwali and those moments form my happy memories.
While we are mostly aware of the story behind why Diwali is celebrated, let’s also look at story/history behind the five grand days of Diwali;
It is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight)
Reason: To buy ornaments/ utensils to bring good luck to their homes.
Story: An ancient legend ascribes an interesting story about the 16-year-old son of King Hima. His horoscope predicted his death by snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage. On that particular day, his newly-wed wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid out all her ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a heap at the entrance of the sleeping chamber and lit lamps all over the place. Then she narrated stories and sang songs to keep her husband from falling asleep. The next day, when Yama, the god of Death, arrived at the prince’s doorstep in the guise of a Serpent, his eyes were dazzled and blinded by the brilliance of the lamps and the jewelry. Yama could not enter the Prince’s chamber, so he climbed on top of the heap of gold coins and sat there the entire night listening to the stories and songs. In the morning, he silently went away. Thus, the young prince was saved from the clutches of death by the cleverness of his new bride, and the day came to be celebrated as Dhanteras.
The day after ‘Dhanteras’ is called ‘Naraka Chaturdashi’ (‘Naraka’ means hell and Chaturdashi means 14th). It is also known as ‘Yamadeepdaan’ as the ladies of the house light earthen lamps and these are kept burning through the night. Since this is the night before Diwali, it is also called ‘Chhoti Diwali’. On this day, a head wash and application of kajal in the eyes is believed to ward away the kali nazar (evil eye).
Story: On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear.
KALI CHAUDAS OR DIWALI
This is the main Diwali day. On this day, the Hindus get up earlier than usual. The men will rub their bodies in perfumed oils before having a bath. New clothes are worn. In the evening, we do pooja and after the pooja the houses are lit with oil lamps/decorative lights, marking the beginning of celebrations. Kids and adults indulge bursting bright and loud fireworks. Special dishes are prepared and served as part of the meal. Besan Laddoos, nariyal laddoos, shakar pare, namak pare, (the season has a lot of pollution and local sweet shops would use adulterated oil, so my mom used to make everything at home). In some households, elders give ‘shagun’ to their young ones and people indulge in playing cards on this day.
Why?: To mark the victory of Good over Evil
Story: According to Ramayana, Rama, the prince of Ayodhya was banished by his father, King Dasharatha to live in the forest for fourteen years. He went on exile with his wife Sita and brother, Lakshmana. Ravana, the demon king of Lanka abducted Sita and took her away to his island kingdom of Lanka, Rama is supposed to have formed a monkey army and killed Ravana. After this victory, he and Sita returned to Ayodhya. To celebrate the homecoming of Rama’s, people lit up their houses with earthen lamps (diyas), burst crackers and decorated the entire city.
The fourth day is celebrated in various forms all across India. In the western states of India like Gujarat this day is celebrated with great pomp and show as Bestu Baras, the New Year as per their Calendar. In Northern states of India, this day is widely celebrated asGovardhan Pooja and Vishwakarma Day, when people worship their instruments that they use for their work.
The fifth day of Diwali festivities is celebrated as the Bhai Dooj or Bhai Fota (In Bengal). While Rakhi is the day when brothers pledge to protect their sisters this day is a payback day for sisters. On this day sisters pledge to protect their brothers from all adversities.
Mainly the festival is all about spending happy time with your family and it is sad to see that nowadays we use this time to plan our vacation abroad instead of visiting our parents ( I am guilty this year of the same). This input has come from my mom :), clearly. Let’s bring back the festival in it’s true form and visit and spend time with family now on. Have a Happy and a safe Diwali!!
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