DEEPAVALI – MYTHOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF CELEBRATING THE FESTIVAL
Deepavali is one of the most prominent festivals of Hindu religion celebrated across the country with fervour and gaiety by one and all without any discrimination of age, caste and creed. It is called as festival of Lights and we find people lighting fire crackers during the festival which is a special attraction.
Rarity of this festival is that it is celebrated in the night unlike other festivals which are generally celebrated in the day time. We find this festival being celebrated even among Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists apart from Hindus. Diwali is a time of the year when families, friends and communities come together in a spirit of celebration and joy.
Observance of the 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 unique name. Deepavali generally occurs during October-November every year starting from Aaswayuja Bahula Trayodasi and ending with Kartheeka Sukla Dwiteeya. Around this time the transit of Sun takes place in Thula (Libra) Raasi the debilitated house for the Sun. 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). It is believed and said that on this day Lord Dhanvanthari the God of health and healing emerged out of the Ocean of Milk during Ksheera Sagara Mardhanam. This day is also known as Dhantheras or Dhana Trayodasi as it is 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. The water with medicinal plant leaves soaked overnight is used on the next day while taking bath as it is said to have medicinal significance.
It is also believed that forefathers (Pitru Devathas) visit their houses 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.
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 Sathyabhaama 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 and it is said that even the sick should also 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 it is said that 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. It is said that taking bath on this day as above is equivalent to taking bath in river Ganges. Worshipping Lord Sri Krishna and giving charity on this day is highly auspicious and meritorious.
Deepaavali Amaavaasya :
Third day of the festival called Deepavali is celebrated on Aaswayuja Bahula Amavasya day (New Moon day). On this day we find people worshipping Goddess Lakshmi by offering special prayers and pooja. Performing Lakshmi pooja on this day is considered to be very auspicious and highly meritorious. Deepavali Amavasya is celebrated as the birth day of Goddess Sri Maha Lakshmi and she is worshipped on this day by lighting lamps. Reciting Sree Sooktham on this day at the time of Lakshmi Pooja is very sacred and meritorious.
Worshiping Goddess Lakshmi on Deepavali day has attained lot of significance in Hindu religion especially in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Businessmen among Marwari and Gujarati communities even open their new annual accounts on this day.
Bali Paadyami (Prathipada) :
It is a festival celebrated in memory of King Bali (Bali Chakravarthi) of Vamana Avathara. It occurs on the first day of Kartheeka Masam (Sukla Paksham), 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. For more details about King Bali and Vamana Avathara please refer to the earlier posts. Worshiping Lord Sri Vamana on this day is very sacred and celestial. King Bali should be worshiped on this day with the following sloka and charity should be made on this day.
Baliraja Namasthubhyam Virochana Sutha Prabho
Bhavishyendra Suraarathe Poojeyam Prathigruhyathaam
Such charity would please Lord Vishnu very much. This day is considered to be very sacred and auspicious for giving charity and one will get multiple merits even if little charity is given in memory of King Bali. 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 Kartheeka Sukla Dwiteeya. It is so called because 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.