Diwali in India

Diwali is celebrated as Moni Diwali, Dhanteras, Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja, Govardhan Puja, Maha Nisa in a splendour way.

Moni Diwali
Its a belief in northern India that on the day of Diwali Goddess Lakshmi will stay at their house. So on new moon day of thula month (aippasi month in Tamil that comes in October last- November first week), they keep a deepam or diya(lantern) in prayer room that will be lit for 24 hrs. They collect the smoke due to that diya and use it as kajal for the year long. Such a occassion is considered to be Diwali.

Dhanteras
In Bihar, the celebration of Diwali starts two days before the actual Diwali as dhanteras, celebrated in honor of Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods. He is believed to have emerged with a pot of amrita (Divine Honey) during the samudra manthan. On this festival, new kitchen utensils are bought and kept at the place of worship. The buying of utensils, according to one theory, relates to the myth of Dhanvantari emerging from the ocean with a pot in his hand. People bathe early in the morning and observe a fast, which is broken only after sunset with sweetmeals, puri and other delicacies.

Songs in honor of the deities are sung and aarti is performed. Oil or ghee diyas are also lit. The gods are offered kheel, batashe and khilone and various sweetmeals. After the puja, the diyas are placed in and around the house: on the doorway, near the Tulasi plant, in the backyard, in every room and at the back and front gates. After this, crackers are burst, and people meet friends and neighbors to exchange good wishes and sweets.

In villages of Bihar, people worship Goddess Kali on this day. Eating unripe coconut and taking a beetle is considered auspicious. In chota nagpur, the men circumbulate their village with basket full of paddy and grass.

Maha Nisa
In West Bengal, it is Kali Puja which makes the festival unique. Kali is generally a goddess to be feared rather than venerated. Diwali is celebrated as 'Maha Nisa' with great enthusiasm and it is a time for gaiety and feasting. It is a myth that on this day Kali Ma gave darshan along with 64 yoginees (saints) after killing  Shambhu and Nishambhu  - the demons. The houses are decorated and lit with diyas. Two or even four plantain leaves decorate the entry to the house or property, with a row of diyas at the doorstep. The entire family gathers around for Lakshmi puja in the evening.


In Rajasthan
On Diwali day, house all over Rajasthan glow with twinkle of innumerable diyas, candles and electric lights.  Women of the neighborhood gather and prepare sweets like Mawa Kachori, Til Ke Laddo, Gonth ke Laddu, Piste ke Launj, Moti Pak, Pheeni, Sohan Papdi, Besan Barfi, Jalebi, and Shakarpara. The unique thing about this festival in Rajasthan is that people do prayer and offerings to cat as they believe that cat is a form of Goddess Lakshmi.

In Gujarat
In Gujarat, Diwali is the worship of Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth. It is believed that Lakshmi on this day emerges to bring prosperity to the world. The celebration lasts for five days, which starts with Dhanteras. The fourth day, or the day of Govardhan Puja is Gujrati's New Year's Day. Lakshmi is believed to visit the homes that are well lit. So, families decorate their houses with light, flowers and paper chains. Business comes to a halt on Dhanteras, two days before Diwali, and doesn't resume until Labh Pancham, the fifth day of the new year. For traders and businessmen, this is the time for a vacation.

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