DIWALI – Importance and Science behind it

published on November 10, 2012


The word Diwali has been derived from ‘Deepavali’ which in turn is formed by dipa + avali (row). Deepavali is thus a ‘line or a row of lamps’. During Diwali, lamps are lit everywhere. It is celebrated on four consecutive days – the thirteenth day (Dhanatrayodashi), the fourteenth day (Narak chaturdashi) and the new moon day (amavasya) (Lakshmipujan) of the dark fortnight of Ashvin and the first day of the bright fortnight of Kartik (Balipratipada).
Before Deepavali, people clean their houses and offices and throw waste out of the house. All unwanted articles are removed. By doing this, the life of the place increases and due to the cleanliness, the place becomes attractive. People buy new clothes, make various delicacies. It is said that on Diwali, Goddess Lakshmi visits houses. On cleaning and decorating houses, Lakshmi Devi is pleased and resides permanently in such houses.


1. Decoration with lit lamps : Lamps should be lit both inside and outside the house on the evening of Diwali. This gives the house a decorative look and generates enthusiasm and joy. Earthen lamps (vilakku) lit with oil are more decorative and soothing than a string of electric bulbs. Dipa actually means a flame obtained by lighting a wick soaked in oil. The Vedas (Shrutis) command ‘Go from darkness to the flame, that is light’. The house in which lamps are not lit on these three days is perpetually in darkness. They cannot go towards light, that is spiritual knowledge. Offering lit lamps attracts Lakshmi. Each and everyone should celebrate the religious festival of Deepavali with enthusiasm so that Lakshmi perpetually inhabits one’s home and one is enlightened with spiritual knowledge. This helps to maintain happiness and prosperity in the family.

2. Lanterns (akashkandil) : ‘This is a part of decoration with lamps. The lantern which is hung outside the house on a tall pole buried in the ground, with the help of a string, from the eleventh day (ekadashi) of the bright fortnight of Ashvin till the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of Kartik is called an akashdiva. It is prepared by making various shapes out of various coloured paper and thermocoal pieces. Inside it, an electric bulb is installed.

3. Rangoli : The basic Sanskrut word is rangavalli. A design created by allowing the powder of a special soft white stone to flow freely, with a pinch of the hand is called rangoli. Rangoli is an art which precedes sculpture and painting. It is both an auspicious and a preliminary necessity in any religious ritual. It is a practice to draw rangoli at the site of any auspicious religious ritual such as a holy festival, a religious festival, an auspicious function, ritualistic worship, a vowed religious observance, etc. During Diwali various rangoli designs are drawn at the doorstep and decorated with different colours. In the ancient times it was a practice to sweep and sprinkle every doorstep with cowdung everyday and draw rangoli. The two aims of drawing rangoli are revelation of beauty and the acquisition of auspiciousness. The forms drawn in the rangoli are symbolic.

4. Ablution with oil (abhyangasnan) : Bath with an oil massage is recommended on all the three days from Narak chaturdashi to Balipratipada.


Various days of Diwali are :
1. Dhantrayodashi (Dhanteras) – 11 November 2012
2. Narak Chaturdashi – 13 November 2012
3. Lakshmipujan – 13 November 2012
4. Bali Pratipada – 14 November 2012
5. Bhaiduj (Yamadwitiya) – 15 November 2012

1. Dhanatrayodashi: The thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Ashvin. This itself is called Dhanteras in common language. Businessmen worship their treasuries on this day. A commercial year comprises of the period between one Diwali and another. New account books are begun on only this day.

Yamadipadan : Lord Yama (Yamaraj) is alloted the task of abducting one’s life (pran). None has escaped or will escape death, according to time. However to prevent untimely death, on Dhanatrayodashi thirteen lamps made of wheat flour should be placed lit with oil, outside the house, facing southwards, in the evening. A lamp is never kept facing southwards except on this day.

2. Narak chaturdashi : The fourteenth day (chaturdashi) of the dark fortnight of Ashvin. According to Shrimadbhagvat Puran on this day Lord Krushna slayed Narkasur. A powerful demon called Bhoumasur or Narkasur formerly ruled a place named Pragjyotishpur. He began harassment of both deities and people. This cruel demon began to harass women. He kept sixteen thousand princesses of marriageable age whom he had won over in battles, in prison and planned to marry them. This created chaos everywhere. When Lord Krushna heard this, along with Satyabhama He attacked the demon, slayed him and set the princesses free. The dying Narkasur asked Lord Krushna for a boon, “On this date (tithi) let one who takes an auspicious bath (mangalsnan) not suffer in hell”. Lord Krushna granted him that boon. Consequently, the fourteenth (chaturdashi) day of the dark fortnight of Ashvin also came to be known as Narak chaturdashi and on that day people started bathing before sunrise.

Yamatarpan (offering to Lord Yama) : After a bath with an oil massage one should make an offering to Lord Yama to overcome untimely death (apamrutyu). This ritual of offering (tarpan) is explained in the religious almanac (panchang). One should consult the religious almanac and then perform it, accordingly. Thereafter the mother moves lit lamps in front of her children’s faces.

3. Lakshmipujan : The new moon day (amavasya) of Ashvin : Though generally the new moon day is considered inauspicious, this is an exception to the rule. Though this day is considered auspicious it is not so for all events. Hence it would be more appropriate to call it a day of happiness rather than auspicious. ‘After an auspicious bath at the break of dawn one should worship the deities. In the afternoon a rite for the departed souls (parvanshraddha) and an offering of meals to Brahmans (Brahmanbhojan) is done and in the evening in a pandal decorated with creepers and leaves Lakshmi, Vishnu and other deities and Kuber are worshipped. A legend says that on this day Lord Vishnu along with Lakshmi liberated all the deities from BaLi’s prison and thereafter they all slept in the ocean. To represent that, everyone should light lamps everywhere.

4. Balipratipada : The first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of Kartik. This is the half among the three and a half auspicious moments (muhurts). (Three and a half shubh muhurts – On these auspicious days, one need not look for a muhurtam to start any auspicious activity. The 3 auspicious occasions in a year are Yugadi, Akshay Trutiya and Vijayadashami. The remaining hafl day of the three and a half days is Balipratipada.) Eating prohibited foods, smoking and drinking prohibited drinks are the three prohibited acts. On Balipratipada a picture of King Bali and his Queen Vindhyavali is drawn with a special powder of soft white stone (rangoli) on the floor, decorated with five colours and worshipped and offered meat and liquor (naivedya). Then for the sake of Bali, lamps and clothes are donated. On this day after an early morning bath with an oil massage (abhyangasnan) women move lit lamps in front of their husbands’ faces. In the afternoon they feast on a meal with delicacies. People don new attire and celebrate the whole day through. It is the beginning of the new year according to Vikram calendar.

5. Bhaubij (Yamadvitiya) : ‘The second day (dvitiya) of the bright fortnight of Kartik is also named Yamadvitiya. This day is widely known as Bhaubij. On this day, Lord Yama visited His sister, Yamuna for a meal. Hence the day has acquired the name Yamadvitiya. On this day no man should eat a meal cooked by his wife. He should visit his sister, present her with clothes, ornaments, etc. and eat a meal at her place. If he does not have a sister by blood relation then he can go to a female cousin’s place or consider any other woman as his sister and dine at her place. Since on this day Yamaraj visits His sister for a meal, the souls suffering in hell are liberated atleast for a day.’
Tulsi vivaha : This ritual consists of uniting Lord Vishnu [an idol of Balkrushna (Infant Krushna)] and the basil (tulsi) plant in wedlock. This ritual is performed on any day between the eleventh (ekadashi) and the full moon day (pournima) of the bright fortnight of Kartik. On the eve of the wedding the base of the basil plant is painted and decorated. Sugarcane and marigold flowers (jamanthi) are placed next to the plant and tamarind and amla are placed at its bottom. The wedding ceremony is performed in the evening. All the vowed religious observances undertaken in the four months (chaturmas) after the Tulsi Vivaha on the twelfth day (dvadashi) of the bright fortnight of Kartik, are concluded. All the food items which one has not eaten due to forbiddance are first offered to a Brahman and then partaken of.


Those who burst firecrackers are Anti-Social, Anti-national and Anti-religion!

1. Physical : Burns, deafness. Many people die in explosions in factories manufacturing fire-crackers. Sometimes, rocket-crackers set fire to huts, heap of dry grass etc.

2. Economic : Terrorists in Pakistan collect funds from people in the name of ‘Jihad’ (Religious War), saying they will purchase bullets to kill ‘Kafirs’ (non-believers). The cost of each bullet is Rs.10/-. With the situation so grim and also because the nation is on the brink of insolvency, it is a sin to burn crores of Rupees on bursting fire-crackers every year.

3. Spiritual : Devotional songs (Aarti) or sattvic sounds attract Divine energies and deities. But noise from crackers, full of ‘tama’ component, attract “distressing energies. This is what we are witnessing today in the country. The Tama-charged environment affects the human mind adversely and man becomes Tama-oriented. Hence we must impress the ill-effects of crackers upon the young minds and stop them from bursting crackers.


O Hindus, we have been individually celebrating Diwali which is a symbol of prosperity, joy and contentment with so much of fervour all these years. On the fourteenth day of Hindu month of Ashwin, Sree Krushna slew the demon ‘Narakasur’ and made His subjects very happy. We, however, forget the main purpose of celebrating ‘Narak Chaturdashi’. Unless all unrighteousness in the society, nation and religion is not annihilated, everyone can not be happy. The unrighteous rulers, criminals, those who are only born as Hindus and those responsible for assaults on Hindu religion in various forms are guilty for the plight of nation and religion today. When righteousness ends, disaster befalls on the nation. Today our nation and religion are exactly facing such situation. Hooligans causing widespread lamentation, corrupt politicians, heretics (Dharma-Drohis) are the modern forms of ‘Narakasura’. It has become necessary to fight against these demons at physical, mental and spiritual levels.

Therefore, today on the day of ‘Narak-Chaturdashi’, let us take an oath to destroy ‘Narakasuras’ from the Kaliyuga and pray and invoke the presence “of Sree Krushna. Bath taken after eliminating such strong demons, will be the real ‘Abhyang-Snan’ and jubilation after defeat of the demons will be the real Diwali celebration.

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