Diwali – the festival of lights in some communities spans five days during October/November in the sacred month of *Kartik. For many Hindus Diwali marks the New Year. The forms of Laksmi/Sita (Goddess of wealth and prosperity) & Rama are worshiped by most Hindu.
This is the most widely celebrated festivals in the Hindu calendar derived from the Hindu epic Ramayana. Diwali celebrates the homecoming of Lord Ram and Sita after a 14 year exile. The festival signifies triumph of good over evil and light over darkness after their time in the forest.
The festival celebrated with elaborate firework displays. Homes are thoroughly cleaned and lamps and candles are lit to welcome the Goddess Laksmi. Hindus believe that the light will guide Rama and Sita into their homes and hearts. Traditionally friends and family exchange parcels of sweets and gifts. Sweets are given to encourage sweet relationships and to forgive any past disagreements.
The five days of Diwali:
- Dhanteras – the day Dhanvantari – God of medicine (Ayurveda) inaugurator of medical science. Some communities will purchase gold/silver, steel utensil or something to add to their home.
- Naraka Chaturdasi – Lord Krishna defeats the Narakasura who kidnapped thousands and of princess and held them captive.
- Diwali Day
- Gorvadhan Puja – Krishna lifts the Gorvadhna hill to protect the villagers of Vrindavan from Indra’s (King of the heavens and rain) anger. The cows are also worshipped on Gorvadhan Puja.
- Bhai Buj – A day when brother visit the home of their sisters. They would bring gifts for their sisters and partake in a meal she would cook. Sisters also pray for their brothers safety on this day. The tradition began when Yamaraj the God of death visited his sister Yamuna and gave her the blessing, that whomever visits her on this day will achieve Moksha (Liberation).
*When the planet Sun enters in the sign of Tula(Libra), the lunar month of Kartik begins. The month of Kartik which is also known as the Damodar maas/month is suggested as being one of the best months for observing austerities. Religious acts performed during this month is said to provide results equivalent to a visit to all places of pilgrimages. Coming from the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, during this month we offer lamps/candles everyday and sing the praises of Krishna in his form as Damodar.