Deepavali or Diwali literally means "a row of lights" and is a national festival. It has been celebrated from time immemorial -- approximately before 1,000 A.D. It is also known as "king of festivals". In some parts of the country it is also known as Kaumudi Deepam, Deepavali, Dipalika, etc.
Deepavali is considered a war against darkness and victory over evil. As the lamp (Jyothi) is considered the basis and spirit of life, Light is alsorepresentative of wisdom. People pray to God with the sholaka Tamosoma Jyothirgamaya means lead us from darkness to light.
(1) WATER FESTIVAL: Ashvija Krishna Thrayodasi (November 03, 2010) :
(In North India it is called as Dhanteras day.) A clutch of Deepavali festivals start from this evening. On this day, in the evening, women of the household clean their houses, bathrooms, boilers, water storage vessels and other bathing items with joy and decorate them with rangoli, haldi & kumkum and worship the boiler filler with water.
(2) NARAKA CHATURDASI: Ashvija Krishna Chaturdasi (November 04, 2010):
The significance of this day is that Lord Krishna and his wife Sathyabhama vanquished the demon Narakasura, the king of Pragjyotispura (modern Assam) after a long war all the night. In the morning, he had a bath with the oil and soap nut powder (Shikakai), which represents sin as oil and soap nut powder as destroyer of sin. It is also a practice to keep oil and soap nut powder in the bathroom and it is a belief that Lord Krishna will come and have the bath. On this day the whole family wakes up early in the morning before sunrise (Brahmi Mahurtha) and has an oil bath, wears the new clothes and prays to God for the destruction of one's sins and evils, for peace and prosperity and then bursts crackers. Therefore this day is celebrated in memory of the killing demons and evil powers. The oil bath is to cleanse ourselves physically and prayers are for spiritual benefit. On this day housewives prepare the sweets made by pumpkin to offer God and guests.
(3) AMAVASYA: Ashvija Krishna Amavasya (November 05, 2010):
This is the darkest day of the year. On this day also people have an oil bath and worship Goddess Lakshmi (representation of wealth and prosperity). In the evening they light the lamps (Jyothi) at all doorsteps, windows and on the compound wall and pray to the Divine Mother for the destruction of Alakshmi (inauspicious goddess) and bestow wealth and prosperity. Also, people light the lamp at their properties, business establishments and agricultural lands.In some parts of the country, women of the village are asked to make a deafening noise by blowing conches, beating drums and winnowing baskets around midnight, to get rid of the evil powers. On this day, people also perform a ritual (Tarpana - handful of water mixed with sesame) to the to appease ancestors.
The day is also known as traders day when they worship Goddess Lakshmi at their business establishments and also their account books, cash box and open new account books, offer sweets and "tambula" to their customers and well wishers.
(4) BALI PADYAMI: Kartika Sukla Pratipad (November 06, 2010):
According to legend the most powerful and charitable Asura king Bali was stamped by Vamana (incarnation of Lord Vishnu) to Sutala Loka (Netherworld) and made the ruler with all splendor till his turn to become Indra. Also Bali is one among the seven "chiranjivis." This is explained in the Sri Bhagavata Purana in detail. People believe that Asura King Bali comes to see his kingdom (earth) on this day. The houses are decorated with lights which makes him happy and as per the boon bestowed on him, Lord Vishnu blesses the people in such houses for their peace and prosperity.
This day is also considered auspicious and is equivalent to Akshayatritiya. Whatever we buy on this day, it fetches us more and more. So people buy gold, silver and moveable and immoveable articles on this day. In villages, people perform puja to the cattle and agricultural implements and pray to the rain god for their prosperity. On this day it is customary to prepare a sweet called Holige (made by jaggery, dhal, maida and ghee) and have food with friends and relatives. It is also a custom among employers to distribute gifts and sweets to their employees and honour them.
(5) YAMA-DVITIYA: Kartika Sukla Dvitiya (November 07, 2010):
Yama-dvitiya or Bhratri-dvitiya means it is a day of brother and sister. Legend has it that Lord Yama (God of Death) was invited by his sister, the river goddess Yamuna for dinner and she offered him sweets with love. Lord Yama pleased with this, blesses her with a boon saying that, "I will bless brothers who have food on this day at their sister's house for their longevity. Since there is separation of the sisters after the marriage from their parents and brothers who may not meet frequently, this festival provides an opportunity for reunion and getting together".
Deepavali is a festival of lights, decorative illuminations and fireworks. This is the most popular of all the Hindu festivals bringing joy to children, youth and elders. It enlightens the spirit of spiritualism and confidence.