There are several manifestations of the Diwali carnival in different regions of India.
The festival starts with the event of Dhanteras, a day set aside to honor the Goddess Lakshmi (Mother of prosperity). Lustrous Lakshmi is the wife of Vishnu, and her sculpture is found in every house. On this day, homes are carefully cleaned and the gates of windows are opened to greet her blessing for the New Year.
Cattles are decorated and worshipped by farmers in rural villages. Special veneration is offered to the cows as the manifestation of the Goddess in the Southern India. Candles and lamps are lit to offer as a greeting to Maa Lakshmi. Prosperity is not viewed as a corruptive power in Indian culture. Instead, a prosperous person is considered to have been pleased for the good activities of a past life. On this day, people distribute gifts and buy new items for the home as this is considered propitious and ensures contentment and wealth for the whole of the coming year. Business men (Marwadi) worship for richness on this day to Maa Lakshmi because it is assumed to give the best outcome for the year ahead.
Second Day – Kali Chaudas
Maa Kali (The Goddess of Strength) is worshipped on the second day. Food is prepared from pounded partly-cooked rice known as Poha or Pauva from the recent crop. This ritual is held in rural as well as in urban areas, especially in Western parts of India. Diwali celebrates the ending of the harvest period which is called as Kharif season when the fresh yield of rice is in but also marks the starting of the New Year. This day (Kali Choudas) also concentrates on abolishing idleness and evil. It is called as Narak Chaudas by the North Indians. They pray for the spirits of deceased loved ones.
Third Day – Diwali
On the third and most significant last day of the year as per lunar calendar, lamps are lighted and glow brightly in every house. It symbolizes awareness and encourages light on the reason of each day in the carnival. The objective is to memorize the reason throughout the coming year. Lakshmi Puja is executed on this day, awakening an admiration of prosperity and wisdom of responsibility towards it. Lakshmi, always portrayed as a very gorgeous woman who stands on a lotus. She has lotuses in diverse stages of bloom in her two hands and get into a lotus garland.
Cascades of gold coins are generally shown flowing by her hands, telling that those, who worship her with full devotion, get wealth. She always dresses in gold-embroidered red attire. Red symbolizes action and the golden lining declares prosperity. Mother Lakshmi is the energetic vigor of Vishnu who also appears as Lakshmi-Narayan – Lakshmi associated with Vishnu.
Lakshmi is the Goddess of prosperity while Ganesha is the God of Happiness. The worship of Lakshmi and Ganesha is done for spiritual prosperity and material abundance. According to the faithful believe, Lakshmi puja should not be ignored, lest poverty and distress fall upon those, who fail to memorize her. This Puja is executed in the evening as the Taurus and Leo ascendant are considered the best for maintaining the material profits for the year. During this time, old trade accounts are finalized and new books are opened. The books are worshipped in a particular ritual and participants are encouraged to eliminate anger, hate, and envy from their lives.
Fourth Day — Vishkarma
The fourth day of Diwali is known as Vishkarma Day which comes on the first day of lunar New Year. Also, the day is called as Padwa or Varsha Pratipada that marks the coronation of Emperor Vikramaditya. People celebrate the New Year by dressing up in new clothes. In addition to this, they wear jewellery and distribute sweets, dried fruits and other gift stuff among family members and business colleagues. This day is frequently used by manufacturers to worship for their tools so that it works well and makes revenue during the year ahead.
In the ancient times, the people in Gokul would celebrate a celebration in the honor of Lord Indra, worshipping him at the ending of each monsoon period. However, in one particular year, the Krishna halted the ritual of offering prayers to God Indra, who in a fit of rage poured down a deluge to destroy Gokul. Lord Krishna saved the people of Gokul by lifting up a mountain (known as Govardhan) and holding it as an umbrella over the people. So, Goverdhan Puja is done on this day to commemorate this act of God Krishna. Also, this day is observed as Annakoot and offering of prayers are done in the shrines. The deities are bathed with milk in Mathura and Nathadwara. After bathing, they dressed in unblemished attire, featuring jewelry of diamonds, pearls and other precious stones.
On the fifth and last day (Balipratipada) of the festival, Bali, a strong titanic figure in the Indian Mythology, is recalled. Bali was the energetic demon-king of Paataala (the netherworld), who had bravely extended his empire over the earth too. On this day, Lord Vishnu in the form of Vaamana (a dwarfish Brahmin), addressed Bali requesting a boon, comprising the space equivalent to three of his steps. Bali famed for his kindness, approved the boon. However, the “dwarf” then came into a gigantic form and covered the entire earth with one step. He covered the sky with the second step and then asked Bali for the placement of his third step. Bali had no other choice so he presented his own head in front of him. Then Sri Vishnu kept his foot on Bali’s head, approaching him back to the netherworld, the lawful territory of Bali’s control. However, Bali prayed that he might be allowed to visit the earth once in a year. Then it was Vishnu’s turn to grant the boon. Thus, the goal of this day is to notice the positivity in others.
The second day of (Shukla Paksh) of Kartika is also known as Bhaiya-Duj. In the Vedic era, Lord Yamraj (the Lord of Death) met with his sister Yamuna (Yami), who put the propitious Tilak on his forehead. They ate food and talked together, enjoying each other’s companionship, exchanging unique gifts as a voucher of their affection for each other. Yamraj pronounced that anyone, who gets the Tilak by his sister on this particular day, is truly blessed. Since that time, the ritual has been for brothers to meet their sisters for celebrating Bhaiyaduj. Sisters apply ‘Teeka’ on the forehead of brothers. Raksha Bandhan may be considered as “brothers’ day”, but it is the day dedicated to the sisters.
Several Myths Surround Diwali
Another myth traces the beginning of the occasion to the annual “examination tours” of Lakshmi (Hindu Goddess of wealth and prosperity). It is said that on this day, Maa Lakshmi goes around visiting the place of her devotees and sets up residence at home. She finds most excellent spruced up and most generous. Diwali is an event for spring cleaning, walls painting and decorating the floor with eye-catching designs wrought in colored powder or paste made with rice.
The killing of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna after a long march from Dvaraka in the West to Pragjyotishapura in the East and the overcoming by Lord Rama of the demon Ravana in Lanka and his successful march back to Ayodhya is held to signify the integration of the four corners of the earth of Bharata Varsha with the victory of good over evil.
The chief custom traditionally linked with Diwali is gambling. Friends meet to play the games of chance, dice or cards. The “addicts” seek legality for their pastime by communicating to the celestial game of dice performed by the great God Shiva with his partner Parvati – a scene beautifully sculpted at Kailash temple. Others rationalize that this is to remise oneself of the agility of lady fortune and to create a sense of balance in our aim of material success.