Description: This article provides information about how various festivals are celebrated during Diwali.
Diwali is celebrated on four consecutive days – the thirteenth (Dhanatrayodashi), the fourteenth (Narak Chaturdashī) and the new moon day (Amāvasyā – Lakshmīpūjān) of the dark fortnight of Āshwin and the first day of the bright fortnight of Kārtik (Balipratipadā). In this article, we will explain how the various days of Diwali are to be celebrated.
Before the festival of Diwali begins, the twelfth day of the dark fortnight of Āshwin is celebrated as Vasubâras or Govatsa dvâdashî. This day is also celebrated as Gurudvâdashî.
Vasubâras (Govatsa dvâdashî)
In a legend, it is mentioned that from the Great Churning of the ocean (samudramanthan) five wish-fulfilling cows (kâmadhenûs) emerged. Among these five wish-fulfilling cows, a divine cow Nandâ had also emerged. This vowed religious observance is performed to worship this divine cow Nandâ. On this day, married women (soubhâgyava¬tîs) undertake a fast partaking of only one meal, and either in the morning or evening; worship an embellished cow and her calf.
On this day the disciples worship their Guru.
Although Vasubâras and Gurudvâdashî are included as a part of Diwali celebrations; but these are altogether different festivals.
Dhanatrayodashī (or Dhanteras) (first Day of Deepavali)
This day is celebrated in 3 different ways as described below:
Dhan means that aspect due to which our life runs smoothly. Dhanteras is very important for business men, who worship their treasuries on this day. Their commercial year is from Diwali to next year’s Diwali. They consider this day to be a beginning of a new accounting year for their business.
Deity Dhanvantari is one of the twenty four Incarnations of Deity Vishnu. He has four hands like Deity Vishnu, which carry Sudarshan Chakra, Conch, Jalouka and pot of Amrut (Nectar). Deity Dhanvantari is the founder of Āyurvēda.
According to the Āyurvēda, the birthday of the Deity Dhanvantari falls on this day. Āyurvēdic doctors (vaidyas) worship Him on this day. They give prāsad (Holy food item) of small pieces of neem leaves and sugar to the visitors. This has great significance because the neem fruit has originated from Divine Nectar (Amrut) and Dhanvantari is the Deity who bestows immortality. It is said that if one chews five to six neem leaves everyday then the likelihood of suffering from any disease is highly unlikely. One should pray to Deity Dhanvantari for the effectiveness of the medicine before taking medicines.
Preparing prasad of neem leaves
- A few flowers of neem
- 10-12 tenderleaves of neem
- 4 spoons soaked chana daal or soaked chana
- 1 spoon honey
- 1 spoon jeera
- Pinch of Asafoetida
Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl and add salt to taste. Then grind it till it becomes a soft paste. Then we offer it to God and pray with devotion that God partakes this Naivedya (food item offered to God). Once we have offered it to God we can distribute it to others.
Deity Yama (Yamarāj, Deity of Death) is allotted the task of taking one’s life (prāṇa) away at the destined time. One can never escape death. However, to prevent untimely death, on Dhanatrayodashi, in the evening, thirteen oil lamps made of wheat flour are lit. These lamps are kept outside the house with its flame facing southwards. Usually, a lit lamp’s flame is never kept facing southwards.
Brief ritualistic worship (inside home)
- 13 lamps preferably made of wheat flour (if not possible, one can use clay/earthen lamps)
- Vegetable oil (1 litre)
- Material used for ritualistic worship (puja)
- First do aachman – pouring water from the left hand into the right hand with a spoon and drinking the water from the right hand.
- Then deshkaal is recited and sankalpa (resolve) is made.
- Then the ritualistic worship of the lamps is done. A flower is offered to each lamp and then Obeisance is offered to the lamps.). Then the lamps are taken outside the house and kept on a hard surface facing the South direction. One can keep the lamps in the verandah, parapet wall or front porch of the house on a paved surface. (Caution – Please take care not to keep the lamps near any fire hazards)
After placing the lamp, one should pray as follows – ‘I offer these thirteen lamps to the son of the Sun Deity (Sûrya) so that He liberates me from the clutches of death and bestows His blessings.’ After the prayer we should offer obei¬sance.
If one has difficulty in performing the ritualistic worship, one can place the lamps and make the prayer as given above.
Source: Publication – Holy festivals, Religious festivals and Vowed religious observances, published by Sanatan.