Diwali is one of the biggest festivals of Hindus, celebrated with great enthusiasm and happiness in India. The festival is celebrated for five continuous days, where the third day is celebrated as the main Diwali festival or ‘Festival of lights’. Diwali is celebrated 20 days after Dussehra, on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin (October / November).
The First day of Diwali : Dhanteras
The five day long celebrations kick off with the 1st Day being celebrated as Dhanteras. Dhanteras or Dhantryaodashi, which falls on the thirteenth day of the month of Ashwin, is day of shopping for steel utensils and is considered very auspicious.
The Second day of Diwali: Narak Chaturdasi
It is the 14th lunar day (thithi) of the dark fortnight of the month of Kartik and the eve of Diwali. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear.
The Third day: Diwali – The Festival of Lights
On the dark new moon night, the entrances to all homes are lit up and decorated with rangoli patterns to welcome Lakshmi, the radiant consort of Vishnu and the goddess of wealth and lustre. Also Lakshmi Puja is performed on this day.
Diwali is the last day of financial year in traditional Hindu business and businessmen perform Chopda Pujan on this day on the new books of accounts. Diwali is the festival when the new business year begins.
The fourth day: New Year day or Bestavarsh or Govardhan Puja
The Fourth day is called Padwa or VarshaPratipada that marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat was started from this Padwa day.
The day after the Laxmi Puja, people celebrate the coming of the New Year by dressing in new clothes, wearing jewellery and visiting family members.
On this day, Govardhan Puja is also performed. As per Vishnu-Puran, the people of Gokul used to celebrate a festival in honour of Lord Indra and worshipped him at the end of the monsoon. But Lord Krishna stopped them from offering prayers to Lord Indra, who in anger sent a deluge to submerge Gokul. Then, Krishna saved Gokul by lifting up the Govardhan Mountain and holding it over the people as an umbrella.
Also, this day is observed as Annakoot and prayers are offered in the temples. In Mathura and Nathadwara temples the deities are given milk bath and dressed in shining attires with ornaments.
The Fifth day of Diwali: Bhai Dhooj
The second day of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksh) of Kartik is called “Bhaiya-Duj”. It comes once a year – after Diwali. The name itself is an explanation of the festival. Diwali falls on the dark night of Amdvasya or the new moon and Bhaiya Dooj comes just two days after Diwali.
There is an old story which tells us why Bhai Dhuj is celebrated. Yamraj, the Lord of death visited his sister Yami one day. To welcome her brother, Yami put the auspicious tilak on his forehead, they ate, talked and enjoyed together and exchanged gifts as a token of their love for each other. Yamraj was very happy and hence announced that anyone who receives tilak from his sister on this day will never be thrown in hell.
Since then it became imperative for the brother to go to his sister’s house to celebrate Bhaiyaduj. On Bhai Dooj, the teeka is applied on the brother’s forehead. It is a day dedicated to brothers and sisters.