दीपावली, दिवाली, dīpāvalī, divālī

"row of lights"

Dipavali, or Divali, is one of the most important, bright and popular HinduIsm festivals in honour of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, happiness and spiritual harmony.

It is celebrated during 5 days in October-November (from the 13th lunar day of Krishna Paksha of the month Ashvin till the second lunar day of Shukla Paksha of the month Kartik). However, the main day is deemed the third day of the celebration – the night of full-moon. At this night illuminations and fireworks are made, a plenty of lights are lit in temples, houses, in the streets and on the squares signifying the victory of powers of light, true and good over powers of darkness, ignorance and evil.


According to one of the legends Vishnu presents this festival to the cast of tradespeople in order that they worship Lakshmi. It's believed that the Goddess travels in this propitious day across the country and visits people's houses, that's why they are thoroughly cleaned and decorated with flowers and lights welcoming Lakshmi this way, who doesn't like darkness.

Historically the dates of this festival are based on the time of Vikramaditya's coronation (the last one from Gupta's lineage). Also Rama was crowned precisely on this day (after his return from Lanka). It's widely thought that Vishna killed the demon Narakasura on this day. In Bengal clay idols of horrifying goddess Kali are brought at home on this day and they are worshiped by putting them in a basin full of rupees (as a place of worshipping Vishnu). It's believed that Kali is Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth), as well as Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge) and that she is an incarnation of female creative beginning. Jains celebrate Dipavali as the day of final liberation (moksha) by Mahavira. Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj, and Swami Rama Tirtha attained liberation and came into full samadhi also on this day. That's why it's the festival of joy, which symbolizes a person's intention from darkness of ignorance and unhappiness towards light of true; this day is deemed propitious to begin spiritual practice.

The following ceremonies are hold withing 5 days of the celebration:

On the first day (Dhan Teras) women anoint the body with creams and oil, take a bath. Afterwards the idol of goddess Lakshmi is washed by milk and worshipped during 3 days including the day of Dipavali. Special food and sweets are offered to all the family members on these days.

On the second day (Naraka Chaturdash) a bath is taken before sunrise, it commemorates the death of the demon Narakasura at the hands of Vishnu. And such bath is repeated 3 days in a row.

On the third day, which is called Lakshmi Puja (it falls on the 30th (the last) lunar day, which is also the last day of Samvat year), a great puja to goddess Lakshmi is performed.

The forth day (Govardhan Puja), it is also the first day of the month Kartik, is deemed New Year and the day the king Bali disavowed the Universe and gave it to Vishna.This day is also called Annakoot (mount of food). The origin of this name traces back from the legend, when Krishna offered Indra a mount Govardhan instead of sacrificing a herd of cows. On this day cows and oxen are decorated, worshipped and fed by all means.

The fifth day is Bhaiduj. Brothers and sisters congratulate each other and give presents.