New Delhi: Festivals prove to be a breather from the hustle bustle of our daily routines. The long awaited Diwali is right here, with an excuse to gorge on sweets without being concerned of the calorie intake and spending on clothes and appliances in the raining offers and discounts all over. The five day festival is set be an action packed gala with Dhanteras marking the beginning of the festival of wealth and prosperity. Diwali is a combined festival of the two avatars of Vishnu: Rama and Krishna.

The markets are all decked up for Dhanteras falling on November 11 or on the thirteenth day of the month according to the Hindu calendar with various lucrative offers, discounts on gold, diamond and silver jewellery. The day is marked by bringing a lusturous metal home as a symbol of Goddess Lakshmi.

People buy silver and gold coins to be worshipped on the day of Diwali, while cheaper options include brass vessels like diyas or any household utensils. The tradition of lighting an oil-lamp at the door starts from this day for all the five days to symbolize the welcome of Goddess Lakshmi.

The Chhoti Diwali, the second day of the festival, is when the preparations are sped up for the big day by decorating homes, preparing sweets, arranging gifts etc. While people get their homes decked up for the welcome of the Goddess, women apply henna on hands and people make efforts to look good on the big day. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear. 

Dipawali, or generally called as the darkest night of the year, is lit up to welcome the homecoming of Lord Rama with Sita from their 14-year exile. The day is celebrated by worshiping Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi to bring prosperity and wealth in our homes. Also, the homecoming of Lord Rama is celebrated by fire crackers, rangoli and lights to mark the arrival of the King to his homeland.

The next day is Goverdhan Pooja or ‘Annakut’. On this day Lord Krishna defeated Indra and said, one must worship his food bearer, that is the nature or the Goverdhan hill that gives us food and livelihood. During the day, a large verity of food items is prepared, ideally 56 in number, to consume each and every flavour offered by nature.

A special mixed vegetable called as ‘annakut’ is prepared and offered to the God and then consumed as Prasad. On this festival which originated from Goverdhan in Mathura, a symbolic cow dung statue is made in every household’s courtyard and is worshipped in the evening as Goverdhan Parbat.

The fifth day ‘Bhai Dauj’ or Yam Dwitya is to strengthen the brother-sister bond. Sister applies tilak on her brother’s forehead and the brother promises to protect his sister forever, along with gifts as a gesture of love and affection.

According to the legend, Yamaraj, the God of Death, visited his sister Yami on this day after Diwali. Yami welcomed her brother by applying the auspicious tilak on his forehead. As a gift, Yamraj promised her sister Yami that all those who will take a dip in Yamuna on this auspicious day will never suffer hell. 

Since then Yama Dwitiya is observed as a symbol of love between brothers and sisters. In Mathura, a massive Yam Dwitya Snaan is organized on the ghats of Yamuna when millions of brothers and sisters take the holy dip in the river after which the brother gifts new clothes to his sister.

JPN