Diwali, the festival of lights, is just around the corner. The festival is associated with wealth and happiness and has different significance on each day. In 2017, the festival kick starts on October 17 with Dhanteras. Buying ‘dhan’ or any precious metal on Dhanteras is considered auspicious and is a sign of good luck and prosperity. Dhanteras is followed by Naraka Chaturdashi, Lakshmi Puja and Padwa also celebrated as Balipratipada. The five-day celebration comes to an end with Bhai Dooj on October 21, where sisters apply tilak on their brother’s forehead and siblings pray for each other’s well-being.
Here’s a brief account of the significance of each day of Diwali:
First Day (October 17): Dhanteras
The first day of Diwali is called Dhanteras or Dhantrayodashi. This day marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations. The word ‘dhan’ means wealth and Hindus consider it auspicious to buy gold, silver or at least new utensils. The day falls two days before Diwali i.e. on the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Kartik. Also, Kubera, the god of wealth, is worshipped on the day. While in the evening, Lakshmi Puja is performed by lighting tiny diyas to drive away evil spirits.
Second Day (October 18): Naraka Chaturdashi
Naraka Chaturdashi falls on the second day of Diwali and is celebrated to mark the victory of Lord Krishna against Narkasur. According to Hindu mythology, Narkasur, son of earth, who rules several kingdoms, becomes an evil asur. He later tries to rule heaven and earth. Later, Krishna attacks Narkasur and beheads him with his Sudarshan Chakra. Hence, it is a ritual to break a bitter fruit on the day, symbolising the victory of good over the evil.
Third Day (October 19): Lakshmi Puja
Celebrated on the third day, Lakshmi Puja is entirely devoted to Goddess Lakshmi. The puja is a combination of five deities –Mahalakshmi, Lord Ganesha, Mahakali, Mahasaraswati and Lord Kuber. On this day people pray for wealth, prosperity, and happiness of their dear ones. Though the day falls on Amavasya which is usually considered the inauspicious day, on Lakshmi Puja it is regarded as the auspicious day.
Fourth Day (October 20): Padwa, Balipratipada
The fourth day is celebrated as Padwa, where wife prays for the long life, wealth, and prosperity of husband. And husband showers wife with gifts. Also celebrated as Bali Pratipada, it is the day when Lord Vishnu’s avatar Vaamana took over all the three worlds from demon king Bali. The king was later sent to the underworld. As the king had a great affection for his people, he gains the permission to visit the kingdom once a year. And people celebrate the homecoming of Bali as Balipratipada.
Fifth Day (October 21): Bhai Dooj
The five-days of Diwali conclude with Bhai Dooj, a day dedicated to the bond of brothers and sisters. According to mythology, Yama, the death of god, visits his sister Yamuna on this day and puts tilak on his forehead. Later, Yama announces that on this day any brother who has red tilak applied by his sister will experience good health and fortune. Hence the day is called ‘Bhai Dooj’. Since then, on this day brothers visit sisters and a tilak ceremony followed by an exchange of gifts is performed. The day is also known as Bhaubeej, Bhai Tika and Bhai Phota.