Diwali Rituals & Celebrations

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Diwali Rituals and Indian Festivals

Diwali or Deepavali Rituals in India

Diwali is otherwise celebrated as a festival of Goddess Laxmi. It is believed that Goddess Laxmi visits everyone during the occasion and brings peace and prosperity to all. On the night of Diwali, "Lakshmi-Puja" is performed in the evening. Traditionally five pieces of ghee diyas (lamps) are lit in front of the deities. After that naivedya of traditional sweets is offered to the Goddess and devotional songs are sung in praise of Goddess Laxmi. After Diwali Puja, people light diyas (lamps) in their homes to usher in light and to clear the darkness from the world. To augur success, those involved in trade and business do pujan of their new ledgers. This is known as Sharda Pujan.

Though in major parts of India Diwali ritual is associated with the worship of Laksmi but practice differs from region to region. For instance, in the North, Lord Rama is worshipped with great fanfare in Diwali. Also many in the North worship Gobardhana, the hillock in Braj, on this occasion. In Bengal Goddess Kali, a form of Durga and a consort of Shiva are worshipped with pomp and grandeur. So rituals differ from region to region.

On this day, there is a traditional practice (especially in Maharashtra) of taking bath before sunrise with oil and paste of gram flour and fragrant powders. There is a peculiar custom in Maharashtra to lightly pound dry coriander seeds with jaggery and offer as Naivedya. In villages cattle's are adorned and worshipped by farmers. In south cows are offered special veneration as they are supposed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and therefore they are adorned and worshipped on this day. In South India the victory of the divine over the mundane is celebrated in a very peculiar way. People wake up before sunrise to prepare blood by mixing Kumkum in oil and after breaking a bitter fruit that represents the head of the demon King that was smashed by Krishna, apply that mixture on their foreheads. Then they have an oil bath using sandalwood paste.
In Orissa, Diwali is celebrated with different beliefs and rituals. It is a ritual that calls upon the spirits of the family's forefathers. Jute stems are burnt to light up the dark path that the spirits of the ancestors take back to heaven. All members of the family hold a bundle of jute stems in their hands. Lighting their respective bundles from the flame on the rangoli, they raise them skywards chanting and prying.
Steps on how the Puja is performed in India.
  • The puja area is first cleansed and then each deity is bathed with water then with ‘Panchamrit’ /or rose water.
  • The lamp or Deepak is placed in front of the deities.
  • A Panchamrit with 5 ingredients of milk, curd, ghee (clarified butter), sugar and honey is prepared.
  • Few mithais, snacks and fruits are placed as a prashad. Offerings of flowers, abir (red colour), sindoor (vermillion), haldi (turmeric) are made and the agarbatti (incense sticks) is lit and lamps filled with ghee.
  • Offerings of fruit, sweets (mithai), Mathis, Ghathia, Namakpare and offer dakshina (token money), which could be given to the poor are also prepared.
  • Paan (betel leaves), cloves are offered at the end. Now pray to the deities to seek their blessings.
  • Laxmi Pooja: Place lotus and other flowers at her feet as an offering. A silver coin is placed in front of the Goddess during the puja. Now Aarti is performed with flowers in hand (Lakshmi Aarti is sung).
  • Ganesh Pooja: Ganesh Puja is a must for Diwali Puja. (Lord Ganesha is to be worshipped in all pujas before any other God or Goddess.) (Ganesh Aarti is sung). After that Prasad is distributed among all and everyone goes out to burst crack.

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