You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : November 1999

Date: Mon Nov 22 1999 - 20:53:46 PST

Dear Bhagavathas,

Several of you have written about these festivals. I like to add to that.

The festival of Lights

Deepawali or Diwali means a row of lights.  It is celebrated on the New Moon 
day of the month of Kartik. For the year 1999, Deepawali is on November 7. 
Deepawali is actually a five day festival!
It  is connected with many episodes from the Hindu holy books. 

Dhan Teras
The Shopping day

Two days prior to Deepawali is known as Dhan Teras. On this day a new utensil 
is bought for the house. House is spotlessly cleaned, washed, white washed.  
and decorated. The children are taken out to buy fire works (crackers), 
earthen diyas (lamps) and new clothes. A pair of earthen Lakshmi and Ganesha, 
for puja on Deepawali day is also bought.

Naraka Chaturdashi

Lord Krishna killed a wicked demon by name Narakasura on the eve of 
Deepawali. This day  prior to Deepawali is called Naraka chaturdashi and  
celebrated by lighting Fire crackers.  This is the part children enjoy the 

Choti Diwali

In some parts of India, the day prior to Diwali is celebrated as Choti 
Diwali. This is to commemorate Hanuman JI  coming to Ayodhya  with the news 
of   the arrival of Lord Rama &  his party from Lanka.

The Deepawali Day

 Deepawali day is believed to be the day on which Lord Rama, and his party 
returned  to Ayodhya from Lanka.  They are greeted by lighting hundreds of 
clay lamps. This  gives the festival the name of Deepawali. Special puja to 
Ganesh and Lakshmi are performed. 

On the main Diwali day, a morning bath is very essential.  In South India to 
bathe before Sunrise, after a good oil massage, is  considered very 
auspicious. Children finish this and start firing crackers in the early dark 
minutes before the Sunrise.

Goverdhan Puja
Anna Koot 
The day after Deepawali is celebrated as Goverdhana Puja. The sacred hill of 
Goverdhan, near Mathura and Kamadhenu (the cosmic cow) which are connected 
with Lord Krishna are worshipped. Krishna lifted up the Goverdhan mountain 
and held it like an umbrella, under which people and animals took shelter 
from the relentless rain. Once the rain subdued, the people gathered around 
the hill and had a great feast (Anna Koot). This festival is especially 
popular among the devotees of SrinathJi (Bala Krishna), as  popularized by 
the 15th century CE philosopher, Sri Vallabacharya (composer of 
Madhurashtakam). He founded Pushti Marga(Pantha). There are about 30 million 
Hindus (mostly from  Gujarat and Central India) belonging to this tradition.

In some other parts,  this day is celebrated as  Bali Padyami. On this day 
king Bali, who was humbled by Lord Vishnu as Vamana, pays a  visit  to his 
lost empire. 

Deepawali also is the New year day for the followers of  Vikrama calendar,  
founded after the great king Vikramaditya.

 For Jains, Deepawali marks the day on which their founder Mahavira attained 

Arya Samajis spend this day in memory of their founder guru Swami Dayananda, 
who was killed on this day.

Deepawali is a great national festival in India. It is celebrated by Hindus 
with extraordinary festivity. Houses are cleaned and painted. People wear new 
clothes. Shops and offices are decorated with colored lights.  Businessmen 
close their old account books and open new ones.  People exchange gifts, 
cards and visit friends and relatives.  Another custom practiced on Deepawali 
day is the early Morning (5 am) oil bath.

In short, you might as well call Deepawali as the Christmas of India, because 
all communities participate at least in the secular aspects of the festival. 
It is also the July 4th, because of the fire works.


K. Sreekrishna Tatachar