Diwali / Deepavali meaning 'Row of Lamps' is also known as Festival of lights - is celebrated during the tamizh month of 'aipasi' (14th day - naraka chathurdasi) and amavasya.
People get up early in the morning (before sunrise) and take oil bath, wear new dress, lighting as many oil lamps as possible, perform puja. Then sweets & savouries are distributed. This is the only day when one can take oil bath at such an early morning hours. The sweet and savoury making rituals start well before and completes just in time of the festival.
The history behind this festival is different in the north and south india though both symbolise the victory of good over the evil. In south India, it is considered as the day when the demon Narakasura was killed by Lord Krishna and during his death Lord Krishna granted his boon that the day be celebrated with valour.
In northern India this festival is celebrated for four to five days starting with Dhanteras (the day people invite lakshmi by purcahsing gold and do puja after bringing home the Gold). The day falls on 18th day after Dusserah. Followed by Diwali, New year and Bhaituj (the day when sisters invite their brother home, pray for their wellbeing conducting pooja and offer them a feast). The navratri is considered to be the war period between Lord Rama and the demon Ravana. The 9th days resembles the victory of Lord Rama. The festival of deepavali is considered to be the day when victorious Rama returned Ayodhya. Hence Ram leela is celebrated widely on this day, in nortern india. An effigy of Ravana is made and a person dressed like Sri Rama will set the effigy of Ravan in fire by firing a burning arrow.
|Ramlila - image got thru google search|
Dhanteras is also known as Dhanvantri Triodasi.As name suggests it is observed during Trayodashi Tithi of Krishna Paksha (13th day). The day is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Dhanvantari, the teacher and the father of Ayurveda. Lord Dhanvantari is the physician of Gods and considered one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
In the olden days festivals gives an earning opportunity to the locals in the form of various items used for pooja etc. For diwali earthern lamps and small earthern pots (for puja) are used.
The market gets colourful on the arrival of the festival with vendors selling colour powders known as 'rangoli' powders (used to draw designs to decorate doorsteps), earthern pots, lamps and various other festive things. Now-a-days we can see many wax lamps coming in different decorated diyas (lamps).
|Image courtesy : google search|
Rangoli :- a colourful design decoration drawn near door steps
But sadly the festival of lights is turning into festival of crackers and sweets. Focus is going off from traditional oil lamps to electrical lights.
People hang kanthil (chandlier) of different colours with an electrical bulb inside to decorate their windows / balcony to mark the sign of the oncoming festival.
All the celebrations comes to an end on the day of Bhaituj when sisters invite brothers to their home, do padh puja, offer them sumptuous feast and get their blessings. They pray for the well being of their brothers. This tradtional practice increase the bonding between the sister (s) and brother (s) and also an opportunity for a mini family get -together.
Every festival is celebrated to bring people together in the family as well as in the community. A nice traditiona passed on by our ancestors through generations. It is very important to understand the essence and celebrate the festival. So let us pass that knowledge to our next generation and may this year bring you more prosperity, peace, health and happiness to you and your family.