Deepavali or “festival of lights”, commonly known as Diwali is considered to be one of the colossal festivals of the Indian society. Believed to be the most ancient Hindu festival, it is a festival of ecstasy and is celebrated in Indian culture with great zeal and enthusiasm.
Diwali is a one of the chief festivals of India. It helps people to recreate the positive energy and goodwill and also rejuvenates the wishes and desires of sake and utility. This festival of gleam is celebrated for five days. It commences with Dhanteras, which is the thirteenth day of the Hindu month-Kartika, and first day of Diwali celebration. After it, Narak Chaudas, also known as Roop Chaudas or Choti Diwali marks the second day of the festival. It is followed by Diwali which is the fifteenth day of the Kartika month (amawasya). It is the day of Laxmi Pujan. Padva marks the fourth day of the festival. And the last day is the Bhai Dooj, which is celebrated to embrace brother sister relationship. The spiritual significance of this festival has always been the victory of light over darkness.
According to Hindu epic Ramayana, the day of Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama, along with his wife Sita and brother Laxmana, from 14 years of exile. It is believed that people celebrate the arrival of lord Rama by lighting lamps in rows in front of their houses. The festival is also linked with Goddess of wealth and prosperity-Laxmi, and marks it as the marriage day of the Goddess Laxmi and Lord Vishnu. This is the main reason of the ceremony performed on the main day of the Diwali celebration, known as The Laxmi Pujan.
The Laxmi Pujan commences with prayers and offerings to lord Ganesha. It is followed by the worship of Goddess Laxmi in her three forms, Mahalaxmi-the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Mahasarawati-the goddess of books and knowledge, and Mahakali-the treasurer of gods. Her idol is usually placed on a raised platform, with a clean cloth on its surface. After the offerings are made to Lord Ganesha, certain mantras are chanted to invoke Goddess Laxmi. People usually place all their gold and silver coins along with the money in front of the idol, which is symbolic to the offering and even prayers to the Goddess.
After offering haldi, kumkum, abeer, gulal and itr (perfume) to the idol, the flowers and prasad, generally made from coconut and homemade sweets, which are prepared for the festival are offered. One of the most important offering is of puffed rice and batasha to the idol. Finally after the offerings, the aarti is sung with a soft and melodious sound accompanied with bells. People then light the candles and the earthen oil lamps in rows, in front of their houses, in the corners and areas of darkness and also on the windowsills. Fireworks and bursting of crackers is followed by the Laxmi Pujan. It is believed to be the most joyful time of the celebration. Henceforth, the Laxmi Pujan which is the most essential part of the festival concludes, and the other days that are Padva and Bhaidooj are followed with equivalent zeal.