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The 6 Days of Diwali - What is each individual festival of diwali associated with
Most of us associate Diwali with the ancient Hindu text of the Ramayan which is the story of Prince Ram. You can read the reason why Deepawali is called the Festival of Lights in that hub.
What many of us do not know is that there is a set of six different smaller festivals associated with the festival of Diwali. This hub deals with the significance and celebrations of these 6 Days of Diwali. Now lets take a more detailed look at each of these minor festivals that makes up the week long celebration for Diwali.
The 6 days of Diwali are
1. Govatsa Dwadashi
3. Narak Chaturdashi
4. Laxmi Pujan
6. Bhai Duj
1. Govatsa Dwadashi - is dedicated to the cow. The Cow is a Holy animal to the Hindus, no pun indicated. It was a very useful animal for the ancient Hindus. It provided milk, and was useful in the fields. It helped in transportation of carts and was seen as a measure of wealth.
So on this day also called Gobaras, the celebration of the festival involves a small puja and an offering of food to the roaming cows in the street. In fact the cow is literally worshiped before it is fed a full meal as such a human being would be offered. There are no milk or milk based products used in the meal. So anything that comes from the cow is not in the offering.
2. Dhantrayodashi - is dedicated to Dhanvantri, the physician of the gods. He is also said to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who helped the Gods and the Demons to churn the ocean in their quest for immortality. It is believed to be the day that this deity emerged from the ocean carrying the vessel full of Amrit - the nectar which when drunk made the gods immortal.
On Dhanteras as it is also called, the custom is to purchase some metal. The choice of metal can be anything from utensils for the kitchen or gold and silver ornaments. Its all a matter of what you can afford. Many people invest in gold and silver coins. Major household appliances like cars, washing machines, and the like which are made out of metal are also purchased on this day.
3. Narak Chaturdashi - is the day that the demon Narakasur was killed by Satyabhama. Satyabhama was one of the hundred wives of Lord Krishna, who is also considered an avtar or Lord Vishnu.Narakasur who was ruler of Pragjyotishpur, a province to the South of Nepal is said to have defeated Indra, the King of the Gods,and imprisoned many Gods. He also took the earrings of Aditi, mother of the Gods, as an added insult saying none of her sons could protect her. Stayambhama was related to Aditi and swore to avenge her. Narakasur was cursed to die at the hands of a woman and so Lord Krishna was the charioteer for his wife Satyabhama in the battle. Satyabhama then proceeded to behead the demon Narakasur and free the imprisoned Gods.
In the south of India is is also celebrated as the day of Bali Pratipada. Lord Vishnu took the form of the short brahman called Batu Waman and expressed his desire for dakshina from King Bali. The king agreed to his demand of land worth three spaces measured by his feet. After that the short brahman grew so big that in one step he measured the Swarglok (heaven), in the second he measured Mrityulok (earth) and as there was no place for the third step Bali offered his own head.
Now the celebrations of this day involve getting up before the crack of dawn and having an oil bath before sunrise and then performing the day's puja. This is symbolic of the bath Lord Vishnu took on this day as per legend to cleanse himself.
4. Laxmi Pujan - Is dedicated to the Goddess of Wealth also called Laxmi. She is the wife of Lord Vishnu. She is said to be the daughter of sage Bhrigu and his wife Khyati.It is believed that she emerged from the ocean of milk as the gods and demons churned it in the hopes of extracting Amrit. On this day people perform a puja to invite her to their homes.
She is worshiped in three forms. Mahalakshmi or the goddess of wealth and money, Mahasaraswati or the goddess of books and learning, and Mahakali or the goddess of creation and destruction. The puja is begun by praying to Ganesha as Vighnaharta or remover of obstacles. The last god prayed to is Kuber who is the treasurer of the gods.
All symbols of wealth such as jewelry, cash and the image of the goddess itself are placed in the puja. The path to the house is well lit by lights and diyas and people do not close their doors and windows so that the Goddess Laxmi has an easy time entering the house. This is considered the main Puja in Diwali and besides the wife of the family is also prayed to as a form of Laxmi.
5. Padwa - is dedicated to the daughters of the family. On this day the daughters of the house brought back the system of the satya narayan puja in a family which had forgotten to perform this puja. With the puja came health, wealth and prosperity to the family which was in dire states.
So on this day the puja is performed followed by the gift of appreciation given to the daughters of the family by the head of the family usually the father. It is usually a set of new clothes for the young girls. This festival is not celebrated by many families, so it is not too common.
6. Bhai Duj - is dedicated to the brothers. It is celebrated on the second day of the new moon for the crescent moon.Lord Yamraj, the God of Death, is said to have visited his sister Yamuna on this day. He was so pleased by her welcome and her hospitality that he gave her a boon saying when a brother visited his sister on this day he would be blessed with health, wealth and prosperity. He would also be absolved of all his sins.
On this day the sisters do Puja for their brothers involving an aarti and tika. In return the brothers give the sisters a token of their affection in a gift. Of course if your bother is not in the same town it is customary for the sister to pray to the moon with an aarti as it is believed that the will convey the blessings to the brother wherever he may be on earth.