Monday, November 19, 2012

Five Days of Diwali

My first Diwali in India - the festival goes on for 5 days each with a slightly different emphasis and with different customs.

Day 1:  This is called Dhanteras and is celebrated in honour of the Lord Danvantari.  This is the 13th day of the moon and the name means wealth (dhan) and 13 (teras).  Hindus consider it good to purchase gold on this day (or silver or new utensils).  People clean their houses and decorate them with lamps and rangoli to welcome Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.

Day 2:  Choti Diwali is the day that Lord Krishna destroyed Narakasur, a demon, and set the world free from fear.  On this day people are supposed to massage their body with oil and then bathe and rest of the day so that Diwali can be celebrated to the fullest.

Day 3 :  Lakshmi Puja - this is the worship of Lakshmi.  People pray in thanksgiving for the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.

Day 4:  Padwa and Govardhan Puja is the day Lord Krishna defeated Lord Indra by lifting the Govardhan Hill to save his people and their cattle from rain and floods.  Large quantities of food are decorated to symbolise the hill.

Day 5:  Bhai Dooj is the day dedicated to sisters.  Lord Yama the God of Death visited his sister Yami and declared that if a sister puts a tilak on her brother's forehead on this day, no harm will come to him.

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