Deepavali or Diwali is the festival of diyas or deepas (lights). This five day festival marks the Demon Narkasura killed by Lord Krishna, has been celebrated across the country and all over the world by Hindus. It is also called Kaumudi Deepam or Dipalika. The Festival Of Lights is the most celebrated Hindu festival. It is the festival of renovating our lives.
The festive preparations begin long before the festival, with houses and business units get cleaned and white washed. Then comes the shopping for new clothes for all the members of the family, the sweets and savouries are prepared,and decorations with streamers, lamps and bursting of crackers.
These five festive days begin each year on the Ashvija Krishna Thrayodasi (thirteenth day of Hindu calendar in the month of Ashvija Krishna ) This day fo the festival is called Dhanteras, is considered auspicious to buy new articles for house and the family. Owing to this people buy gold, silver articles or even vehicles and home appliances. The houses are cleaned and decorated with rangoli, haldi kumkum, etc. A pot filled with water is worshipped.
The second day is the Naraka Chaturdasi falls of the fourteenth day of Ashvija Krishna. This is the day when Narakasura King of Pragyotispura is slained by Lord Krishna. Every gets up before sunrise (Brahmi Muhurtha) and take a oil massage preferably till seed oil/ till seeds paste and shikakai(herb used for skin and hair wash).
This also may have been followed by our ancesstors as ritual to keep our skin from drying due to the season’s cold and dry weather. Prayers are offered for destruction of sins and evil, followed by bursting of crackers. Pumpkin sweets are offered to God and shared with guests. On this day the maternal uncle will gift his nieces and nephews with goodies and crackers.
Ashvija Krishna Amavasya
The third day is the Ashvija Krishna Amavasya or new moon worship goddess Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity. There is special puja at business institutions and houses. In the evening, lit lamps are placed at all doorways and windows of the house and bursting crackers. People are invited by their friends and relatives for Lakshmi Puja and sweet and gifts are exchanged.
This is the big business to all vendors. Women blow counch shells and beat drums and winnowing baskets to ward off evil. People pay tribute to their ancestors in form of puja. Traders worship Goddess Lakshmi, account books and cash boxes.Fresh account are maintained from this day.
Nomu / Nomulu
In South India, special puja is held on Amavasya called Nomu. This is very sacredly perfomed. There is special thread called the Nomu Dhara, which is tied to the worshipper right hand after prforming puja. This custom is acquire through ancestral only. Those families who have this ritual are eligible to perform this puja.
The Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped and food, fruits, nuts, in multiples of 21 are placed in twin winnow as offering to God, new clothes, areca nuts, food arranged in plantain leaf is offered as Naivedya. Adrasam or Kajjaya is a savoury made of rice flour and jaggery then deep fried is specially prepared on this day.
Kedara Gauri Vrata
On this day, special puja to Shiva called as Kedara Gauri Vrata is performed. It is said that Goddess Parvati performed this puja to attain half of Lord Shiva and hence Shiva became ‘Ardha Narishwara’. Lord Vishnu blessed with Vaikunta Loka observing Kedara Vrata. Lord Brahma got Hamsa Vahana (Swan Vehicle). Bhagyawati and Punyavati got a lot of wealth observing Kedara Vrata.
The fourth-day Balipadyami in Kartika Sukla is celebrated on the occasion of Vamana stamping the most powerful and charitable Asura king Bali to Pathala Loka (netherworld). Bali is revered as one among the seven chiranjivis and returns to visit his kingdom on this day every year. On this day one can buy home appliances, goods and very auspicious for buying new things.
Obbatu or Holige made of jaggery, dal, maida and ghee, is made on this occasion. This is the season to offer gifts many institutions off incentives and gifts to their client/employees. Dry fruits and complimentary gifts are ever in demand during this season.
The last day of Diwali is the Yamadvitiaya also called as Bhratridvitiya is a day dedicated for sisters to meet their brothers. According to our scriptures, Lord Yama‘s sister Yamuna met him and offered him many sweets on this day. Hence this day has the significance that all sister and brother should meet on this day of the festival.