Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Regional Names of Diwali in India

The customs of celebrating Diwali, the festival of light vary from region
to region. Though the theme of Diwali is universal, ie, the triumph of Good
over Evil, the Darkness paving way for Light and Ignorance leading to
Knowledge. With warmer days turning into a mild winter, the fun-filled
Deepavali, is celebrated for five days from Krishna Chaturdashi to Kaartik
Shukla Dwiteeya. Diwali is observed by Hindus, Sikhs & Jains, each
community celebrating Diwali for different reasons.

Before Diwali

Days before Diwali, people start decorating their homes, preparing sweets,
light up their homes with colorful lights, buy new clothes & Jewelry.
But in some Indian regions the rituals of Diwali starts off two days before
Danteras, ie the first day of Diwali. Such festival are:

Agyaras: The Patels and the Vaishnavs begin their Diwali
celebrations before Dhan Teras, on the 11th day of Ashwin. The day is
devoted to preparing the choicest snacks and savories.

Wagh Baras: This day signifies the importance of women in society.
Women in the house are worshiped and they buy new clothes and jewelry.

First Day
Throughout India, the first day of Diwali is widely known as Dhanteras.
This day is celebrated to revere Dhanavantri, the physician of the gods, and
Goddess Laxmi. Dhanteras is also known by various other names such as:

Dhanatrayodashi: Dhantrayodashi
a special ritual is accomplished which is called Deepdaan. In it lamps are
lit for every individual in the family and ancestors and they are floated in
a river or pond.

Yamadeepdaan: In India, the
festival of Dhanteras is also known as Yamadeepdaan. This name is associated
with Sixteen-year old son of King Hima was doomed to die but the dedication
of his young wife made Yam, the God of Death, return back.

Dhan Teyras: On Dhan Teyras, fast is
kept and the worship is done by lighting an earthen lamp on the main
entrance of the house and offering water, vermilion, rice, jaggery and
flowers to Yamaraj.

Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi / Dhantheran: In few South Indian States this festival is known as Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi or Dhantheran. This day is marked by
buying new utensils and silver/gold items.

Second Day

In every Indian household, the second day is celebrated with the lighting
of 5-7 deep (Diyas) on the door and corners. It is Diwali on a smaller
scale, with fewer lights lit and fewer crackers burst. The various regional
names associated with the second day are:

Choti Diwali: Choti Diwali or 'Small Diwali' is Diwali on a smaller scale, with fewer lights lit and fewer crackers burst. This day is known as Choti Diwali in most North Indian States.

Narkachaturdashi: Celebrated in all South Indian states, God Yama is worshiped on this day to get over the fear of demon Narakasura. People make an effigy of Narakasura, and burn it. Later, they take bath and burst crackers.

Roop Chaturdashi: In all north
Indian States, the second day of Diwali is also known as Roop Chaturdashi.
On this day, Hindus takes a ritual bath and perform Sadhana (Meditation) for
gain of beauty and magnetism.

Kali Choudas: The day before Divali
is called Kali Chaudas and on this day, a head wash and application of kajal
in the eyes is believed to keep away the kali nazar (evil eye).

Mahanisha / Kali Puja: The festival of
Diwali is known as Mahanisha in Bengal. It is believed that Maha Kali
appeared on this day, accompanied by 64,000 yoginis.

Divvela Panduga / Divili Panduga:
Divvela Panduga, also known as Divili Panduga is one of the most significant
festival of Andhra Pradesh that include the legend of Narakaasura,
decoration of house by rangolis, oil lamps and celebration with fire

Third Day

Accompanied by the exchange of sweets and the explosion of fireworks, the
third day of Diwali as the most important and significant day. The name
Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word Deepavali. Other names that vary
according to the regions are:

Laxmi Pujan: Diwali is synonymous
with laxmi pujan. Houses are decorated, Goddess laxmi is worshiped and the
women do "aarti" to their husbands, while praying for his long

Chopda Pujan: Diwali also
represents the start of a new business year so all businesses close their
accounts and present them to Lakshmi and Ganesh during the Chopda Pujan.

Deva Divali: Among Jains, Diwali is
known as Deva Divali. It is on this day that Lord Mahavira is worshiped,
sacred scriptures are recited and homes and temples are illuminated.

Sukhsuptika: Among the Kashmiri
Pandit, the festival of lights is known as Sukhsuptika, which literally
means sleep with happiness.

Kaumudi Mahostavam: In some part of Andhra Pradesh the festival of Diwali is known as Kaumudi Mahotsavam.

Badhausar: In Gujarat, Diwali is known as Badhausar. On this day, Lakshmi is believed to visit the homes that are well lit. So, families decorate their houses with light, flowers and paper chains.

Balindra Pooja: Diwali is also
known as Balindra Pooja in many South Indian States. In the morning, a pooja
offering oil to Krishna is performed.

Karthigai Deepam: On Karthigai
Deepam, people clean their houses and draw 'Kolams' (Rangoli) in front of
the house and also place some lamps on it.

Thalai Deepavali: The first
Diwali of the newly wed in Tamil Nadu is known as Thalai Deepavali.

Sharda Pujan: To augur success,
those involved in trade and business do pujan of their new ledgers. This is
known as Sharda Pujan.

Bandi Chhor Diwas: Diwali is celebrated as Bandi Chhor Divas by Sikhs throughout India. The story of Divali for the Sikhs is a story of the Sikh struggle for freedom.

Diyari: The festival of Diwali is known as Diyari among the Sindhis. They celebrate this festival by performing puja to Goddess Lakmi.
Fourth Day

The fourth day of Diwali falls on the first day of the lunar New Year. At
this time, it is new year for most of the Hindus, while for other on this
day old business accounts are settled and new books are opened. The fourth
day is known as:

Goverdhan puja: Govardhan Puja is
an occasion to worship Lord Krishna and Govardhan Parbat or Mount Govardhan,
near Mathura.

Bestavarsh: The fourth day is
celebrated as new year and the families celebrate it by dressing in new
clothes, wearing jewelery and visiting family members.

Gudi Padava: The association of the
New Year termed as Padava or Padavo, with Diwali also substantiates the
harvest festival theory.

Varsha Pratipada/ Pratipad Padwa:

The Fourth day is also called Varsha Pratipada or Pratipad Padwa that marks
the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat was started from this
Padwa day.

Annakoot: On the fourth day, Annakoot
is celebrated in observance of the episode in Sri Krishna's childhood, in
which He gave protection to the cowherd clan of Vrindavan from the wrath of

Bali Padyam / Bali Pratipada: In
Karnataka and other states, the fourth day is celebrated as Bali Paadyami or
Bali Pratipada, commemorating the annual visit of demon king Bali to his
subjects on Earth.

Muharat Pujan: All business
establishments and families perform muharat pujan or veneration of their

Fifth Day

The fifth day of Diwali is widely known as Bhai dooj or Bhatri Ditya, and
is dedicated to the sacred bond shared between brothers and sisters. It is a
big family day and the various regional names of this festival are:

Bhai Phota: In Bengal this event is
called 'Bhai Phota'. Two days after Kali puja, 'Bhai Phota' is celebrated.
On this day, sisters keep a fast and invite their brothers to be

Bhaubeej / Bhav-Bij: The fifth day of
Diwali is known as Bhaubeej or Bhav-Bij among the Marathi speaking

Bhai-Tika: The last day of Diwali is
known as Bhai Tika in Nepal. Also known as brother and sister day, sister
pray to Yamraja for her brother's long life and prosperity.

Yamadwitheya / Bhathru Dwithiya: As
the legend goes Yamraj, the God of Death visited his sister Yamuna on this
particular day. That is why this day of Bhayyaduj is also known by the name
of "Yama-Dwitiya" or Bhathru Dwithiya.

Gorehabba: A unique festival
celebrated by a remote village of Karnataka, Gorehabba fills joy and
enthusiasm in people's life. On this day the villagers start playing with
the cow dung and there are also a few interesting rituals that are done.

Bhatri Ditya: A festival in tune
with the Diwali celebration, Bhatri Ditya is a special occasion amongst
brothers and sisters and is observed as a symbol of love and affection.

Bhathru Dwithiya: Bhathru
Dwithiya is a significant Hindu festival that lay utmost importance to the
love shared between a brother and his sister. Various rituals and customs
are followed while celebrating Bhathru Dwithiya.

Story about diwali

In India, there are lots of tale for diwali. Each and every region there own story. Some of them, I share with you.

¤ The Mythological Story

The mythological story of Sagar Manthan or ‘churning the ocean’
may help us understand why Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, is
worshipped during Diwali. Legend has it that once all the devtas, or
demigods were under a curse that made them weak in body and mind. They
were advised by Brahma (Creator in the Hindu Holy Trinity of
Creator-Preserver-Destroyer) to drink amrit, or the elixir of life.
But amrit could only be obtained by the churning of the ocean, which,
needless to add, was no mean feat. Now the question arose as to
how to go about churning the gargantuan ocean. Lord Vishnu (the Hindu
Preserver of the Universe) came up with a solution saying that Mount
Meru could act as the churning stick, while Vasuki (the mythical
serpent) could be used as the coil around Meru. Pleased with the
suggestion, the devtas went to the asuras, or demons and sought their
help in accomplishing the formidable task. The devtas’ promise to
share the amrit with the asuras tricked the latter into consenting to
tug Vasuki from one end.

Thus ensued a phenomenal churning that, however, threatened to
destroy the three worlds (Heaven, Earth and Hell). The gods simply
could not let that happen, so Vishnu appeared in the guise of a giant
tortoise or Kurma (Vishnu's second incarnation) and stabilised the
churning by acting as a base under Mount Meru. It is said that
eventually, spectacular treasures emerged from the great ocean
including Laksmi the Goddess of Prosperity and Wealth, Sura the
Goddess of Wine, Chandra, or the moon, Apsaras, the celestial nymphs,
Kaustabha, the precious gem of Vishnu, Uchchaishravas, the divine
horse, Parijata, the wishing coral tree, Kamdhenu, the wish-fulfilling
Divine Cow, Airavata, the four-tusked white elephant, Panchajanya, or
the conch, Sharanga, the invincible bow, and Dhanvantri, Nimi and
Bharadwaj - the physicians and surgeons.

¤ Chhoti Diwali

The day before Diwali is celebrated as Chhoti Diwali (small Diwali).
This is the day when Hanuman reached Ayodhya to deliver the
long-awaited message of Lord Rama’s return. On Chhoti Diwali,
people socialise and exchange sweets and gifts. There is a puja in the
evening, and the puja sthan (most Indian homes have a special room or
corner with a little temple in which they pray) is decorated with
empty earthen lamps and newly purchased idols that are to be
worshipped in it. In Bengal, people celebrate the Kali puja on this
day. Kali is the Goddess of War and is highly revered by the Bengalis.
In South India, an oil massage followed by a bath before dawn on this
day is equated to taking a dip in the holy River Ganga. and a dip in
the Ganga (the holy river of India supposed to absolve one of all
sins) on this day is also considered to be an act of piety.

¤ Diwali myths: the end of Rama's exile

Over time, various mythological explanations were given for the celebration of Diwali. The most popular myth among these is the one linked to the ancient prince Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, returning to their kingdom, Ayodhya, after a 14-year exile, and the defeat of the king of Lanka, Ravana. To celebrate this event, people at Ayodhya are believed to have lit up their houses with lamps.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dussehra - Vijaya Dashmi

All that is good in mankind is concentrated in the deeds of the god-king
Ram, the ruler of Ayodhya. Lord Rama, the moral man with his moral way of life are the reasons for celebrating India's popular festival of Dussehra and Diwali. Diwali comes exactly 20 days after Dussehra on Amavas (new moon), during fortnight of kartik, some time in October or November.

On the day of Dussehra, Ram, killed the great demon Ravan, who had abducted Ram's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Ram, along with his brother Lakshman and devoted follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue his lovely wife Sita. The war against Ravan lasted for ten days. Sita had been returned to her husband Ram and they now make their way to Ayodhya in triumph and glory. Thus, it is on the Diwali day that Lord Ram, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the Treta Yug, returned to his capital Ayodhya after the exile of fourteen years.

Consequently, to commemorate the return of Ram, Sita and Lakshman to Ayodhya, people celebrate Diwali with the bursting of crackers and by lighting up their houses with earthen diyas. This grand style of celebration have continued, year after year. To this
day, the whole of Ramayana is enacted in dramas staged in huge pandals and maidans, in cities, towns and villages, on the occasion of Dussehra and Diwali.


In a week long fair in the hill town of Kullu, is part of the Dussehra celebrations. From the little temples in the hills, deities are brought in procession to the 'maidan' in Kullu, to pay homage to the reigning deity, Raghunathji. The celebration actually begins nearly 10 days in advance as per tradition.

In Mysore, Karnataka the Mysore palace is illuminated for a whole month during Dussehra and caparisoned elephants lead a colourful procession through the gaily-decorated streets of the city. It is the most colourful celebration of Dussehra in world. The spectacular procession taken out on this day is really enjoyable.

In Tamil Nadu, the first three days are dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity, the next three days to Saraswati, Goddess of learning and arts and the last three days to Shakti (Durga).

In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, families arrange dolls (Bommai Kolu) on artificially constructed steps and prepare an elaborate spread of lamps and flowers. Women traditionally exchange gifts of coconuts, clothes and sweets.


The whole set up is put on the very first day of Navaratri. Vijaya Dashamiy is an auspicious occasion for children to commence their education in classical dance and music, and to pay homage to their teachers.

In Punjab, Navaratri is taken as a period of fasting. In Gujarat, the evenings and nights are occasions for the fascinating Garba dance. The women dance around an earthen lamp while singing devotional songs accompanied by rhythmic clapping of hands.

In northern India, the festival wears the colourful garb of Ramlila wherein various incidents from Rama's life are enacted. Ramlila draws large number of people every year. The entire night of Dussehra passes in an enthusiastic and enchanting fair like ambience and people enjoy every bit of it. After Dussehra, the excitement of the Diwali grips the whole of India. (

Friday, October 3, 2008

Navaratri Mahotsav

The Navratri commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashwin. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during the beginning of October, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar, the festival may be held for a day more or a day less.

Navaratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India. In North India, all three Navratris are celebrated with much fervor by fasting on all nine days and worshipping the Mother Goddess in her different forms. The Chaitra Navratri culmintes in Ram Navami and the Sharad Navratri culminates in Durga Puja and Dussehra. The Dussehra of Kulu in Himachal Pradesh is particularly famous in the North.

The last four days of Sharad Navratri take on a particularly dramatic form in the state of West Bengal in East India where they are celebrated as Durga Puja. This is the biggest festival of the year in this state. Exquisitely crafted and decorated life-size clay idols of the Goddess Durga depicting her slaying the demon Mahisasura are set up in temples and other places. These idols are then worshipped for five days and immersed in the river on the fifth day.

In Western India, particularly in the state of Gujarat, Navratri is celebrated with the famous Garba dance. It is also popular throughout India and among Indian communities around the globe.

Navratri is divided into sets of three days to adore three different aspects of the supreme goddess or goddesses.

First three days

The goddess is invoked as a spiritual force called Durga also known as kali in order to destroy all our impurities and other things .

Second three days

The Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees inexhaustible wealth. She is the goddess of wealth.

Final three days

The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order to have all-round success in life, believers seek the blessings of all three aspects of the divine femininity, hence the nine nights of worship.

In South India, Saraswathi pooja is performed on the 7th day. Eight day is traditionally Durgashtami which is big in Bengal. The 9th day is Ayudha Pooja when everyone gives their tools of the trade -- pens, machinery, books, automobiles, school work, etc. a rest and ritually worships them. They start afresh from the next day, the 10th day which is considered as 'Vijaya Dashami'. Many teachers/Schools in south India start teaching Kindergarten children from that day onwards. Students also pay homage to their respective teachers as they are considered the third god (Maathaa, Pitha, Guru, Daivam - Mother, Father, Teacher & God). On this tenth day of Navratri in October - the holiday of Dussehra or Dasara, an effigy of Ravana is burnt to celebrate the victory of good (Rama) over evil.

During Navratri, some devotees of Durga observe a fast and prayers are offered for the protection of health and prosperity. A period of introspection and purification, Navratri is traditionally an auspicious and religious time for starting new ventures.

During this vowed religious observance, a pot is installed (ghatasthapana) at a sanctified place at home. A lamp is kept lit in the pot for nine days. The pot symbolizes the universe. The uninterrupted lit lamp is the medium through which we worship the effulgent Adishakti, i.e. Sree Durgadevi. During Navratri, the principle of Sree Durgadevi is more active in the atmosphere.

Navratri is celebrated in a large number of Indian communities. The mother goddess is said to appear in 9 forms, and each one is worshipped for a day. These nine forms signify various traits that the goddess influences us with. The Devi Mahatmya and other texts invoking the Goddess who vanquished demons are cited.