All of us have a rough idea of why Diwali is celebrated. All of us have been celebrating it for the longest time. And Diwali is rarely a one-day long festival. Its preparations begin weeks in advance, with cleaning the house, gifting and Diwali parties and more, and they often have week long after-effects as well. Out of sheer curiosity, I asked my mother about the significance of whatever we celebrate. We are bound to have some mythological or factual reason to celebrate Dhanteras, Bhai Duj, etc. I kid you not, she didn’t have a clear idea herself. So, I took it upon myself to research, and I am pretty sure you guys didn’t know why we celebrate the 5 days of Diwali either.
Here is a list of the 5 days of Diwali, their significance and/or mythological/factual history. Here you go!
DHANTERAS(First day of the 5 days of Diwali)
Most of us know about this as the day of buying, as people buy gold, silver, precious stones, utensils, ornaments and more in huge amounts. This day marks the beginning of the 5 days of the Diwali Calendar and the official beginning of the Diwali festivities. Happening on the thirteenth(13th) day of the second half of the Lunar month, it is considered to be pretty auspicious to buy forms of material wealth.
It is marked as the birthday of Lord Dhanwantari (I had no clue about this whatsoever), and he is the physician on Gods. On this day, he is believed to have come out of the ocean with the knowledge of Ayurveda (the science of medicine), for humankind’s benefit. So, Dhanteras is somewhat his birthday, and our excuse to shop a lot for the sake of auspiciousness.
Falling on the 13th lunar day of the Krishna Paksh (according to the Hindu Calendar), the dark fortnight of the month of Karthik, Dhanteras is a very special day. In Gujarat for instance, this day is given more importance than Diwali itself, and people hold Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Kuber (The Hindu God of riches) and Ganesha Pooja on this day. So go on, shop away to glory for good reason.
NARAKA CHATURDASHI OR CHOTI DIWALI
So here, Lord Krishna has a part to play. He is known to have destroyed this demon called Narakasura. This demon had a boon that he could only be killed by the hands of his mother – Bhudevi. The twist here is that Lord Krishna’s wife – Sathyabhama was a reincarnation of Bhudevi. So, Krishna took her for the fight against Narakasura, and in the battle Krishna is known to have been hit by an arrow, leaving him unconscious. At this point, Sathyabhama takes the bow and arrow and shoots Naraka, killing him instantly. Hence, Naraka Chaturdashi.
It is said that Lord Krishna had an oil bath to rid himself off of the blood of Narakasura. Therefore it is believed that one should give themselves an oil massage. It is also said that you shouldn’t light diyas or step out on this day, and relax at home instead (which I follow very religiously). Now, it is called Choti Diwali, and people have a mini-celebration to prepare themselves for the major celebration the next day. So, well, go on. Be a part of a mini-celebration while I stay home and follow the mythological history.
LAKSHMI POOJA OR DIWALI
All of us know at least one reason to celebrate Diwali, and that is the return of Lord Rama, Lakshman and Sita to Ayodhya, after an exile of 14 years and after killing the demon Ravana. This is basically the main day of the 5 Days of Diwali. On this day, we welcome Goddess Lakshmi and worship her along with Lord Ganesha. It somewhat signifies welcoming/arrival of general wealth and prosperity, which is why people clean their houses and fill their homes with lights in order to seem welcoming enough.
I don’t need to enlighten you on how we celebrate Diwali. Basically, Hindu’s clean themselves and their houses, join their families and worship Goddess Lakshmi to receive her blessings of wealth as well as prosperity. Diwali is the day of the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness, hence the insane amount of lights, candles, fireworks and more.
GOVARDHAN POOJA or BALI PADYAMI
A long long time ago, Lord Indra (The God of Rain) was angry at the people of Vrindavan and showed his wrath by raining havoc on them. To save the kinsmen from rain and floods, Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Parvat (Hill) on his little finger, saving all the people from the rain. So, in the northern states of India, this day is celebrated as Govardhan Pooja and Vishwakarma Day (Also called Annakut). People worship their arms and machinery used for their profession, and most business establishments stay shut on this day.
This day is celebrated in various ways and forms all over India. In the Western States, for instance, Gujarat, this day is celebrated as ‘Bestu Baras’ or the New Year as per their calendar. Marathi people call this day as ‘Naya Divas or New Day‘.
Meanwhile, in the Southern States of India (Karnataka and Tamil Nadu), this day is celebrated as ‘Bali Padyami‘. There was this demon-king by the name of Bali, and although he was god-loving and mighty, he was also an arrogant ruler. Lord Vishnu, in his fifth reincarnation, schemed, defeated and sent Bali to Patal Lok and rescued Goddess Lakshmi as well. This is why Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu are worshipped during Diwali, on the fourth day from the 5 days of Diwali.
BHAI DOOJ or BHAI TEEKA
The 5th day of the 5 days of Diwali, is called Bhai Dooj. It is the celebration of the love between brothers and sisters, and also called ‘Bhai Beej‘ or ‘Bhai Tilak‘ or ‘Bhai Fota‘. Brothers normally visit their sisters on this day, while sisters prepare a lavish lunch and sweets in honour of their brothers for their long and healthy life and success. As per legends, on this day Yama (or Yamraj, the Lord of Death), visited his sister Yami (or river Yamuna). He gave his sister a boon that whoever visits her on this day shall be relieved from all their sins, and achieve Moksha. Yami is said to have hosted a brilliant feast for her brother, hence the brothers visit their sisters on this day for feasting.
And then comes the unfortunate end of these 5 Days of Diwali. The aftermath can be pretty tiring, but it also marks the beginning of the winter season. So yayme! Anyway, I am sure you didn’t know about the significance or reasons behind this Diwali Calendar. Hope this enlightened you guys!