India celebrates Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, on Wednesday 11th November 2015. The festival marks the triumph of light over darkness and the beginning of the Hindu new year when it is believed the Hindu god Rama returned to his capital city of Ayodhya after 14 years in exile.
The first day of the Diwali is “Dhanteras”.This is the day we worship the lord of dhan i.e. Kuber. There is story behind - An ancient legend describes the occasion to on interesting story about the 16-year-old son of King Hima. His horoscope predicted his death by snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage.
On that particular day, his newly-wed wife did not allow him to sleep.She laid out all her ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a heap at the entrance of the sleeping chamber and lit lamps all over the place. Then she narrated stories and sang songs to keep her husband from falling asleep.
The next day, when Yama, the god of Death, arrived at the prince’s doorstep in the guise of a Serpent, his eyes were dazzled and blinded by the brilliance of the lamps and the jewellery. Yama could not enter the Prince's chamber, so he climbed on top of the heap of gold coins and sat there the entire night listening to the stories and songs.
In the morning, he silently went away. Thus, the young prince was saved from the clutches of death by the cleverness of his new bride, and the day came to be celebrated as Dhanteras.
This day commemorates the victory of lord Krishna and Satyabhama, his wife, over the demon, Narakasura. People rise as early as 3am on Naraka Chaturdashi. The bathing process followed on this day is rather intricate and elaborate; women bathe with utan (mix of ayurvedic herbs) and scented oils. Sounds of firecrackers fill the air by 4am and stop only after sunrise. The day is spent hosting neighbors, relatives and friends, and exchanging gifts and sweets.
The evening puja/arti on this day pays obeisance to the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi and devotees seek her blessings. It is imperative to keep the house spotlessly clean during Diwali as the goddess is said to only visit and bless houses that are orderly. Flowers, lamps and rangolis (magnificent decorative patterns/designs made of coloured powder etched on the floor) adorn the doorways of homes.
Lakshmi is believed to roam the earth on Diwali night. On the evening of Diwali, people open their doors and windows to welcome Lakshmi, and place diya lights on their windowsills and balcony ledges to invite her in. On this day, the mothers who work hard all year, are recognized by the family and she is seen to embody a part of Lakshmi, the good fortune and prosperity of the household
Padwa or New Year
Is a day that celebrates the bond between husband and wife. Wives pray for their husband‘s longevity. It is customary for a husband to pamper his wife with gifts. Diwali also celebrates the beginning of a new business year, and wishes for a healthy, happy one. So it’s also customary to forgive past transgressions and hope for prosperity in the months ahead.
Bhai Dooj/Bhau Beej
This is a day that symbolises the love between a brother and sister and a time for family reunions when cousins get together to celebrate the day with gaiety and boundless enthusiasm.
Women pray for the well-being and prosperity of their brothers while men vow to protect their sisters and shower them with presents.