What is Diwali?
Diwali is the Indian Festival of Lights. Also known as Deepavali (which literally means ‘row of lamps’), Diwali is usually celebrated in October-November on the darkest moonless night. The festival starts on the thirteenth day of waning moon and there are 5 days of Diwali. Each day is of special significance.
The first day is called Dhanteras : Dhan means wealth and Teras is the thirteenth day of the Hindu month. This is the birthday of Lord Dhanwantari and is considered a very auspicious day for businesses! On this day, people pray to Lord Dhanwantari for money and success. Dhanteras is also called the day of Yamadeepan.
The second day of Diwali is called Naraka Chaturdashi or ‘Choti Diwali’. According to legend, this is the day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Nakasura. The fireworks that we light during Diwali are supposed to represent the weapons that Lord Krishna used to defeat Nakasura.
The third day of Diwali is the real Diwali. This is the only day in the year when Goddess Laxmi comes down to earth and bestows prosperity and good fortune. We light diyas to invite Goddess Laksmi and drive away darkness. People perform Lakshmi puja and ask for blessings of prosperity. This is also the day that Lord Ram (who is said to be the avatar of Lord Vishnu) returned home after killing the Lankan ruler Ravana. Fireworks also represent the victory of good over evil!
The fourth day of Diwali is Govardhan Puja. Lord Krishna saved Gokul from flooding by using the Govardhan mountain as an umbrella
The last day of Diwali is bhai dooj and is a symbol of love between brothers and sisters. Legend has it that Yamraj the lord of death visited his sister (the river Yamuna) and she put a tilak on his forehead. So on this day, sisters apply a tilak on their brothers forehead and get gifts and blessings in return.
This year Diwali (the third and main day) falls on Sunday November 3rd. For a full list of Indian festivals and holidays check out our blog post Indian festival list 2013
Question aides for parents:
Q1) When is Diwali?
Q2) Why do we light diyas during Diwali?
Q3) How many days of Diwali are there?
Q4) What do the fireworks represent?