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Diwali Festival

A colorful festival that is celebrated by all Hindus worldwide is Deepavali, which is also known as the festival of lights.

Legend has it that Hanuman (the legendary monkey-god and prime devotee of Lord Rama, the god-hero of the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana) delivered the much awaited message of Rama’s return to Ayodhya (Rama’s kingdom) after 14 years in exile. The entire kingdom rejoiced upon hearing the news and Ayodhya was washed, cleansed and dressed up with lights and shimmering earthen lamps to welcome the Lord himself. Diwali is celebrated even today to commemorate this event.

Celebrated on:

This festival usually falls around late October and November. Diwali is celebrated in the Hindu month of Kartik (around November) on Amavas, or the new moon right after Dussehra.

Legends of the Festival:

>> Legend of King Hima and Yamraj : -

The son of King Hima was doomed to die on the fourth day of his marriage by snakebite. To defeat this prediction, his wife lit lamps all over the palace and laid the ornaments in a big heap at the entrance. When Yamraj, the God of death arrived there in the guise of a serpent, the dazzle of those brilliant lights made his eyes blind and he could not enter the prince's chamber. This victory is remembered as dhanteras and people buy some item of jewellery and keep a lamp lit nearby all night.

>> Legend of Lord Krishna & Demon Narakasura : -

Bursting crackers for Deepavali is connected with the killing of the demon Narakasura, the evil king of Pragjyotishpur, near Nepal, by Lord Krishna. After the killing, Krishna freed all the women who had been abducted by Narakasura. After his victory Krishna returned very early in the morning and was bathed with scented oils. Hence there is the custom of waking up early in the morning, bursting at least one symbolic cracker and having oil bath of purification.

>> Legend of Lord Rama, Laxman & Sita : -

The most popular legend of Diwali is associated with the Ramayana. After a fierce battle Ram killed the demon Kind Ravana and recovered his wife. Ram's return with his wife Sita to Ayodhya and his subsequent coronation as king is celebrated at Diwali. On this dark Amavasya night, the people of Ayodhya light up the route with rows of oil lamps to welcome their Prince. Therefore on this glorious event lamps are lit and the festival bears the name of Deepavali or "line of lamps".

>> For Bengalis, it is the time to worship Goddess Kali or Durga. The Goddess Durga continued her "Vilaya Tandava" even after killing demon Mahishasura.

Celebrations of the festival:

>> First & Second Day :-

The First day is called 'Dhanteras' which falls on the thirteenth day of the month of Ashwin. The word Dhan means wealth. Believing this day to be auspicious, women purchase some gold or silver or at least one or two new utensils. The Second day is called 'Narkachaturdashi' or 'Choti Diwali' which falls on the fourteenth day of the month of Ashwin. This day therefore is dedicated to lights and prayers heralding a future full of joy and laughter.

>> Third Day :-

The Third day of the festival of Diwali is the most important day which sees colors of firecrackers, lighting of lamps, delicious sweets, new clothes and family get together exchanging gifts. On this day special pooja ceremony is observed to worship Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi. This is the day when the Sun enters his second course and passes Libra constellation (Nakshtra) which is represented by the balance or scale. Hence, this design of Libra is believed to have suggested the balancing of account books and their closing. Despite the fact that this day falls on an Amavasya (dark night) it is regarded as the most auspicious.

>> Fourth & Fifth Day :-

The Fourth day is celebrated as 'Padva' or 'Bali Pratipada' to commemorate King Bali. In North India it is celebrated as 'Govardhan-Puja' to mark the lifting of Goverdhan Mountain by Lord Krishna.The Fifth and final day of Diwali Festival is known by the name of 'Bhaiya-Duj' that is observed as a symbol of love between sisters and brothers on this particular day Sisters put the auspicious tilak on their Brother's forehead, and feed them with special dishes. This festival is known as Bhai Bij in Gujarati and Bhai Phota in Bengali.

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