Deepa means light and Aavali means row. Deepa+Aavali = Deepavali
DEEPAAVALI – The Five Day Festival of Lights
Observance of this festival varies from region to region. Deepavali also popularly called Diwali is celebrated for three to five days based on regional customs with each day of the festival referred to by a unique name.
Deepavali generally occurs during October-November every year starting from Aaswayuja Bahula Trayodasi and ending with Karthika Sukla Dwiteeya. Around this time Sun will be transiting in Thula (Libra) raasi.
The celebrations take place in the following order…
> Jala Poorna Trayodasi – Dhantera;
First day of the festival called Jala Poorna Trayodasi is celebrated on Aaswayuja Bahula Trayodasi (13th day of the dark fortnight).
This day is also known as Dhantheras or Dhana Trayodasi as it is considered as auspicious to buy Gold and Silver on this day.
In South India especially in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh we find people performing on this day Ganga Pooja after Sunset in the night by symbolically filling water in a copper or brass vessel decorated with flowers and adding medicinal plant leaves to the water.
> Yama Deepa Daana;
It is believed that forefathers (Pitru Devathas) visit on this day and as a mark of respect and invitation to them we find people lighting an oil lamp in front of their houses in the South direction that would please Yama Dharma Raja the Lord of Death. This is called Yama Deepa Daana.
> Naraka Chaturdasi;
Second day of the festival a day prior to Deepavali, called Naraka Chaturdasi is celebrated on Aaswayuja Bahula Chaturdasi (14thday of the dark fortnight).
This day is celebrated commemorating the death of Demon King Narakasura at the hands of Lord Sri Krishna and his consort Sathyabhama Devi.
It is a custom and mandatory to take oil bath on this day. Lot of spiritual significance is given for oil bath on this day. Even the sick and Sanyasis also should take it without fail.
It is said that Lord Sri Krishna had taken oil bath on this day after killing Narakasura.
Thil Oil (Sesame oil) should be used for the bath as Goddess Lakshmi resides in Thil oil on this day.
It is customary to take this bath early in the morning before sunrise when the stars are still visible.
Taking bath on this day as above is equivalent to taking bath in river Ganges.
Worshiping Lord Sri Krishna and giving charity on this day is highly auspicious and meritorious.
> Yama Tharpana on Naraka Chaturdasi;
Sacred scripts prescribe that, on the day of Naraka Chaturdasi all those who are eligible to offer Pithru tharpana should give Thila Tharpana in the name of Yama Dharma Raja (God of Death) called Yama Tharpana by reciting the following sloka containing 14 names of Yama Dharma Raja.
Yamaaya; Dharmarajaya; Mruthyave; Chaantakayacha;
Vaivaswathaya; Kaalaaya; Sarva Bhootha Kshayayacha;
Audhumbaraya; Dhadnaya; Neelaya; Paramestine;
Vrukodaraya; Chitraya; Chitraguptayathe Namah!
Facing South, Tharpana should be given with water and black sesame seeds (thila) with Yagnopaveetham in Savya position like Deva Tharpanam (Yama Dharma Raaja being a Demi God) by reciting each name in the above sloka by adding Namah.
Yamaaya Namah–Yamam Tharpayami;
Dharmarajaya Namah – Dharmarajam Tharpayami; etc…
Scripts like Dharma Sindhu says that this Tharpana should be given by one and all irrespective of the fact whether father is alive or not.
Yamadharma Raja is having both Devatva as well as Pithrutva.
In case father is not alive it can be given in Savya/Apasavya position as said above. If it is Savya position it should be given from Deva Theertha; if it is Apasavya position it should be given from Pithru Theertha.
In case father is alive (Jeevatpithru) it should be given with water and rice with Yagnopaveetham in Savya position. Thila should not be used in this case.
> Deepaavali Amaavaasya;
Third day of the festival called Deepavali is celebrated on Aaswayuja Bahula Amavasya day (New Moon day).
On this day Goddess Lakshmi should be worshiped by offering special prayers and pooja with Sree Sooktham – Lakshmi Ashtottara – Lakshmi Dwaadasanaama Stothra. Performing Lakshmi pooja on this day is auspicious and highly meritorious.
> Bali Paadyami (Bali Prathipada);
It is a festival celebrated in memory of King Bali (Bali Chakravarthi) of Vamana Avathara. It occurs on the first day of Karthika Maasa (Sukla Paksha), the day on which….
King Bali is said to have given charity to Lord Sri Vamana, was pushed to Nether worlds by Lord Trivikrama (Vamana) and was also amply rewarded by the Lord for his virtues.
Worshiping Lord Sri Vamana on this day is sacred and meritorious.King Bali should also be worshiped on this day with the following sloka and charity should be given on this day.
Baliraja Namasthubhyam Virochana Sutha Prabho
Bhavishyendra Suraarathe Poojeyam Prathigruhyathaam
This day is considered to be sacred day for giving charity and one will get multiple merits even if little charity is given in memory of King Bali.Such charity would immensely please Lord Vishnu very much. Worshiping Goddess Lakshmi, Kubera (Divine Cashier), and Cow (Gomatha) on this day are also given lot of significance.
> Yama Dwiteeya – Bhagini Hastha Bhojana;
Fifth and final day of the festival called Yama Dwiteeya is celebrated on Karthika Sukla Dwiteeya. On this day it is said that, Lord Yama had taken his meals in the house of his sister Yamuna (Yamuna River) prepared and served by her. This is known as Bhagini Hastha Bhojana.
Since then it has become a custom and tradition on this day for brothers to take food in the house of their sisters and sisters in turn worship their brothers and pray for their longevity. If one doesn’t have sisters, father’s sister should be worshiped on this day.
It is believed that it will enhance the health, wealth and longevity of the brothers and in turn sisters will live as Sumangali forever.
Generally gifts and compliments are exchanged on this occasion among brothers and sisters.
Information credit: Bhargava Sarma