Rituals are the attachments of idol worshipping that have been in existence since time immemorial. The most celebrated festival in Indian culture, Diwali has its history placed in the mythological past of India. With time, there have been many several rituals and traditions that are attached with the celebrations of Diwali. The five-day long jovial festival has varied influences from the cultural traits of different parts of India. The name Diwali itself originates from the tradition of lighting clay diyas. Although the rituals and customs vary in different parts of India, nonetheless, the underlying essence remains the same. Glance through the following lines to know the various customs and traditions marked to celebrate this lively and magnificent festival, Deepavali.
Rituals And Customs Of Deepavali
First day of Diwali
Dhanteras or Dhantrayodasi is celebrated on the first day of Diwali. Houses and business premises are renovated and decorated anew. The entrances are festooned with traditional motifs of Rangoli to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. Small footprints, using rice flour and vermillion, are created all over the house to indicate the long awaited arrival of the Goddess. Lamps and diyas are kept burning all through the night. Dhanteras is considered to be very auspicious for purchasing new gold, silver and utensils on this day. The evenings are lit up with the performing of the Lakshmi puja by reciting Vedic chants and singing bhajans. In Maharashtra, the devotees for a unique custom of pounding jaggery with dry coriander seeds and offering it as Naivedya to the Goddess. On the other hand, in south India, cows are specifically worshipped as they are considered to be an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.
Second Day of Diwali
The second day of Diwali is celebrated as Choti Diwali or Narak Chaturdashi. It is customary to rise early and take a bath before sunrise. In Maharashtra, people apply a paste of gram flour, fragrant powders and oil on their forehead and then take the traditional bath. However in most parts of South India, people wake up before early and break a bitter fruit symbolizing the head of the demon king Narakasura. People apply a paste of kumkum and oil, also known as ‘Ubtan’ in their forehead representing the blood that Lord Krishna had smeared on his forehead. They then take a bath before sunrise. In the evening, people illuminate their homes with diyas and lamps and burst crackers and fireworks.
Third Day of Diwali
The third day, which falls on the moonless night of Amavasya, is the most significant one throughout the entire Diwali festival. People decorate their homes and roads, as well, with lights and diyas. Lakshmi puja is performed with much enthusiasm on this day, as it is on this moonless night that Goddess Lakshmi descends on the earth. The business community and traders settle their accounts on this day, and worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity to help them prosper further in the next financial year also. The day ends with bursting of firecrackers all through the night, illuminating the dark sky with happiness and jolliness.
Fourth Day of Diwali
Govardhan Puja marks the fourth day of Diwali. In temples, especially in Mathura and Nathadwara, the deities are given the sacred milk bath, and dressed in shinning attires with ornaments of dazzling diamonds, pearls, rubies, gold and silver. After the prayers and traditional worship, sweets and bhog are piled on to form a mountain known as annakoot, and hence, offered to the Gods.
Fifth Day of Diwali
The Diwali festivities end with ‘Bhai Dooj' on the fifth day. Also known as Yama Dwitiya, Bhai Dooj is a celebration of the love and bonding between brothers and sisters. On this auspicious and joyous occasion, sisters apply tilak on their brothers’ forehead, perform aarti and offer them sweets. The brothers, in return, give them gifts and a promise to protect and take care of them in all times of joy and sorrow.