Diwali is a festival of lights and the celebrations start well ahead with people going in for high level preparations for the festivity. The celebrations associated with Diwali are also known to take a toll on the environment, including health risks among various individuals including young children and the senior citizens. It is our earnest desire to ensure that the festival is celebrated with joy yet without causing any substantial damage to the environment. The festival starts with high spirits and Diwali begins with Dhanteras.
We celebrate Diwali in a grand way without knowing much about the significance. Diwali is a gala festival and is celebrated as a five day festival and each day has a different message with mythological significance and importance attached to it.
First day of Diwali is popularly known as Dhanteras and Dhanvantri Puja is being conducted. The word Dhan means wealth and teras means 13th day of lunar dark fortnight of Kartik. In the evening the lamp is lit and Dhan Lakshmi is welcomed into our flat. Colourful rangoli designs and Goddess footprints are drawn on pathways starting from entrance of the house to mark the arrival of Lakshmi, sweets and fruits are offered to the Goddess. On this auspicious day people buy Gold, silver and utensils. In North India, they buy a broom to mark the occasion and there is great demand for it in the market in Delhi and other places. Earthen diyas are lit on Dhanteras in the evening to get rid of evil spirits.
The second day is celebrated as Chhoti Diwali and it is called Kali Chaudas. Kali means dark and chaudas means 14th day of the dark half of Kartik month and is believed that on this day Kali killed the demon Narakasura. This is the day to end evil all negatives attached to oneselves. Oil bath is taken on this day in Southern parts of India and that will give you a fresh lease of life as the massaging is done from top to bottom of the body.
Third day is the main festive day and Goddess Lakshmi is believed to enter flats and bless people. So people wear new clothes, light oil lamps and pray to Lord Ganesha, Saraswati, Kubera and Lakshmi. Diwali is also treated as the beginning of a new financial year. Lighting of the lamp is significant since darkness represents ignorance and light is a metaphor for knowledge. Poor should be fed to appease Goddess Lakshmi and bring cheer in the face of the poor strata of society.
Fourth day Govardhan puja assumes greater significance. There is a tradition of building cow dung hillocks, which signifies Mount Govardhan, the mountain which was once lifted by Lord Krishna. Feeding green fodder or spinach to cows this day is considered very auspicious.
Fifth day is Bhai Dooj, which is the last day of the festivity. Bhai Tikka assumes importance as sisters pray for the good health of their brothers and their well being. This too has mythological significance as brother-sister relationship is everlasting. Make Kheer with Kesar and donate the same and if you can’t make Kheer, then donate yellow dal.
Five day leading to Diwali can be enjoyed to the maximum by sharing one’s wealth and good wishes with those who are not so fortunate. It is not just about lighting diyas but cleaning your inner self of doubt, jealousy and spreading joy all around.
Diwali means fire crackers bursting on the day of Lakshmi Puja. The air quality deteriorates drastically around this time as a thick layer of smog, mixed with dangerous chemical. Instead of fire crackers, various alternatives could be looked upon to ensure that the fun factor remain intact. Let us all celebrate a safe and happy Diwali.
We may call this week a week with full of joy and celebrations. Let us all plan to celebrate a noiseless and pollution free Diwali. Happy Diwali wishes to one and all.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)