Five days of Celebration :
Saturday, 22nd October - Dhanteras
Sunday, 23rd October - Kaali Chaudash and Diwali
Monday, 24th October - Diwali
Wednesday, 26th October - Gowardhan Pooja and Bhai Dooj (Bhaiya Dooj)
Five Days of Dipawali : Though most people in India (especially North India) celebrate the festival for only a day or two (as ‘Badi Dipawali’ and ‘Chhoti Dipawali’), the festival is celebrated for five days in several parts as well. These five days start with Dhanteras, where "Dhan" means money or wealth and "Teras" means 13th lunar day of Krishna Paksh. Goddess Mahalakshmi is worshipped on this day to get blessings of wealth and health. People purchase Gold or precious metal on this day to bring fortune. Lakshmi Pujan is conducted in the evenings as well as after purchasing the Gold. Lighting up lamps in homes is another custom of the day as that is believed to bring protection to a home from negative energies.
The 2nd day of Dipawali is celebrated as Chhoti Diwali or Naraka Chaturdashi since a Devil named "Naraka" was destroyed on this day according to Hindu Mythology. According to legend, this day is also known as "Kali Chaudas". This day's practical significance lies in its message for getting rid of the bad habits and negativity. If everyone adopt this message in a day to day life then it can result in the creation of the light of happiness and success in our lives.
The 3rd day which is commonly known as Diwali or Dipawali is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and it is believed that if Goddess Lakshmi visits our homes on this occasion then she blesses us with Prosperity and Wealth. People clean their houses in honour of Goddess Lakshmi's arrival to their homes. Lakshmi Pujan is conducted with proper puja samagri or pujan pack in the evening and all the family members consume the prasad. This day is followed by bursting fire crackers and lighting the rows of lamps outside the houses. This day gives message to remove Evil from our lives & minds and give way to Light. Wherever there is light, there is Happiness & Positivity.
The 4th day of Dipawali is celebrated as "Govardhan Puja". It is believed that Lord Krishna encouraged people to worship Nature (symbolized by the mountain of Govardhan) on this day and to take care of nature.
The 5th day of Dipawali is celebrated as "Bhai Dooj". This day is celebrated for Sister-Brother's loving relationship. The day ritually emphasizes the Love and Lifelong Bond between silblings. It is a day when sisters get together to perform a puja with prayers for the well being of their brothers. Then the day ends with a ritual of food sharing, gift giving and conversations.
Celebration of Dipawali :
Irrespective of how or when the festival of Dipawali started in India, it is now an ingrained part of the culture of our land. As Indians, we feel proud of the wonderful festival which teaches us the values of goodness and positive thinking. No matter where we may live, we can celebrate the festival with friends and acquaintances by sending wishes and gifts.
Dipawali, as we know it today, is more of a social observance, where the greatest emphasis is paid to visiting friends and family, and partaking celebrations with great enthusiasm. However, what is of greatest significance in the celebrations of Dipawali is the history and the legends that surround it. They help us to give true meaning of the festival and teach us how it is really to be enjoyed.
It is not just Dipawali which enjoys great history and significance. There is a history and meaning to every celebration, covering each of the five days of Dipawali. Whether in the celebration of Bhai Duj, Dhanteras or even the Govardhan Puja, it must be remembered that there is some meaning, history and purpose to each.
Dipawali has the unique distinction of being a festival that has relevance in several ages of Hindu history. Most epics allude to stories which, over the years, have translated into legends that give Dipawali its significance and true import.
The core message behind the celebration of India’s most popular festival, Dipawali, is the victory of light over darkness or of good over Evil. This is why homes are lit up brightly during the celebration of the festival. Another spiritual message that Hindus receive from the festival is to focus on their inner light and achieve self realization which is the ultimate aim of Hinduism. Every historical legend or mythological story associated with the history of the festival highlights the victory of good over evil. Some of the historical legends associated with the festival of Dipawali are :
Lord Ram Returns to Ayodhya : The most popular legend commemorates the victory of Lord Ram (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) over Ravan, the ruler of Lanka. On rescuing his wife Sita from the clutches of Ravan, Lord Ram returned home to Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years on the day we know today as Dipawali. Symbolic of the victory of good over evil, this implores us to let the good in our heart get the better of immorality. Today’s Dipawali is all about lighting diyas and lamps around the house as an auspicious omen welcoming Lord Ram to our homes and hearts.
Krishna Conquers Narakasur : Dipawali is also celebrated as the day that the demon Narakasur was destroyed by Lord Krishna. A menace who constantly troubled the womenfolk, Narakasur finally repented and implored Krishna that his death should be cause for happiness among the people. True to his word, Lord Krishna ensured that Dipawali and Happiness became synonymous. It is customary for families to wake up in the morning, bathe and light some crackers in the joy of Narakasur’s defeat, and in the renewed faith that God will come to rescue man, if he has called the Lord Krishna with true faith.
Krishna and Indra : Although most people only know Dipawali to be a festival for extravagance and fun, this is also a time of humility and thanksgiving. Dipawali puja is also meant to offer thanks for the endless gifts of nature. The residents of Gokul managed to earn the wrath of Lord Indra when they, on the insistence of Krishna, stopped praying to Him and to Mount Govardhan instead. What followed were raging storms that threatened to submerge the entire region. Krishna then gave all inhabitants shelter under the mountain which he lifted with his little finger, and held overhead for seven long days till Indra’s wrath had been spent.
Bali and Vamana : A king called Bali was once humbled by Vamana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Bali was gaining disrepute for his arrogance. On assuming gigantic proportions, the midget Vamana took three strides of the earth, the last one on the head of King Bali to subjugate him completely. For the goodness which the king possessed in abundance, the Lord blessed him with the boon that he could return to his kingdom and celebrate with his subjects once a year, on the occasion of Dipawali. This is yet another reason why this festival is characterized by cheer and goodwill.