While most Hindu festivals last only for a day, there are few which carry on for several days. Among the most special Hindu festivals is Diwali.
Diwali is celebrated in different traditional forms depending on the region. The common thread that intrinsically links all celebration is unconditional love, unification of family and friends, and reverence for deities associated with the festival. Diwali celebrations are typically spread over five days. Planning begins well in advance. Homes are meticulously cleaned and painted, choicest linen and upholstery is carefully appointed, and elaborate menus are drawn up to appease all the senses. Diwali has various dimensions to it – there is tradition, religion, fun and festivity. For any Diwali to feel complete and meaningful, it is important to have every element woven in in some measure. Ensure that you have a balanced Diwali celebration, and you will have found a novel way of enjoying the festival.
Here is how Diwali festivities get underway:
This is a day dedicated to the worship of wealth. Like the name ‘dhan’ itself suggests, any means of procuring wealth forms the centre of prayer. It is customary to buy gold, silver or some metal on this day. Normally, people would like to find a good time in the day when they purchase something precious. However, this day is largely auspicious and there is no special time that needs to look for when buying gold. Offices, accounting books, and even cattle are considered revered on this day. Hopes of a prosperous year and fortune are fostered. It is common to have a puja in offices and companies, and all machinery is decorated and offered gratitude.
On this day, Lord Krishna is believed to have rescued the women from the evil Narakasur. Crackers are burnt and victory of virtue is celebrated. Unlike most common Diwali celebrations, celebrations on Naraka Chaturthi begin in the morning with the bursting of crackers and uninhibited consumption of sweets. The day in itself is relatively low key, but it makes a great precursor to the celebrations that are to follow.
The main day of Diwali is the one which is most awaited by everyone. This is the day that all the planning and preparation is targeted at. Diwali ischaracterised by visits made to greet friends and family. New clothes are proudly strutted and Goddess Laxmi is paid respects. Lord Ganesha finds his place on the altar along the Goddess as the Lord of Blessings. Sweets, savoury delicacies and fragrant drinks are served to guests who come laden with boxes of sweets and dry fruits. Lamps are lit, and crackers are burst amid great pomp and camaraderie. Diwali celebrations are usually made with friends and family, and not alone. This is characteristic of the shared happiness and joy. Many people also make it a point to share crackers and sweets with the less fortunate so that they may also enjoy the occasion,
while some who are miles
to their near and dear ones..
On this day, Lord Krishna is worshipped with elaborate meals that could comprise over seven courses laid out for Him. The deities are bathed and decorated elaborately before they are offered their meals, which are then distributed among the family. Several people take their children and families to the temple not just to offer their salutations, but also to educate the youngsters abut Indian tradition and enjoy some sumptuous Prasad.
Bhai Duj is a day when brothers undertake long journeys to go visit their sister, no matter where she may be. The sister is indulged and showered lavishly with gifts. The sister, on the other hand, prays for the well being of her brother and serves him a sumptuous meal. Diwali has a sense of fervent faith, joy and belonging, and a staunch hope for a bright future. Its inimitable appeal comes with the promise of a year full of good fortune, and sweet memories of Diwali remain long after it is over. This is perhaps the most fitting end to the celebration of Diwali, since it ends with unity, promise and longing. Once the brother returns home suitably rewarded and armed with gifts, it is time to wind up the festivities, and look forward to another great Diwali in the year ahead.