Diwali is renowned as India’s biggest festival. Called the festival of lights, Diwali is celebrated by Indians all across the globe. While it is a Hindu festival, people of all religions usually participate in the festivities since it is celebrated on such a huge scale. It is a great time for people to bond with their family members and friends. Celebrations are marked by prayers, lighting of lamps in the homes and on the streets, distributing presents and sweets amongst friends and bursting firecrackers later in the night. In principle, it signifies the victory of light over darkness and evil. This year, Diwali begins on October 28. The first day is Dhanteras day. The third day is the day of Amavasya which is the day Laxmi Puja is performed. This year, Laxmi puja falls on October 30. This is followed by the Bali Pratipada which is on October 31. The festivities come to a close on November 1. However, the most auspicious day, which is considered as the main day of Deepawali, is the day of the Laxmi puja – October 30. It is an official holiday in most parts of the northern hemisphere like Fiji, Guyana, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago.(ALSO SEE Why do we celebrate Diwali?)
To understand the significance of Laxmi puja, you need to first know who Laxmi is. Laxmi is Vishnu’s wife and according to legend, the goddess of wealth. Of the legends associated with Diwali, one legend suggests that Diwali is the day when Lakshmi was born due to the great churning of the ocean. This event has been mentioned in religious texts like the Puranas as Samudra Manthan (the Great Churning of the Ocean). The mythical event refers to the time gods and demons churned the Great Ocean of Milk. While Mount Mandara served as churning rod, Vasuki, the king of serpents who resides around Shivas neck, served as the churning rope. Several amazing things emerged from this churning but the most magnificent and prominent among them was the goddess Lakshmi. Legend has it that the day of Laxmi puja was the day Laxmi emerged out of the ocean, immediately after which, she was married off to Vishnu. This auspicious wedding ceremony was celebrated by lighting oil lamps. Since then, the day is traditionally celebrated as the festival of lights by Hindus.
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Another important belief associated with the day of Laxmi puja is that Laxmi visits the homes of her devotees on this day showering them with blessings of a wealthy and healthy life. Since Laxmi is the goddess of wealth, this blessing is considered extremely important among Hindus. People prepare way in advance for Laxmi puja. They clean their homes, prepare delicacies including sweets and place them before an idol or photograph of Laxmi. You will usually find an oil lamp or diya along with sweets or mithai, dry fruits, some currency notes, marigold and other flowers right next to the statue of Goddess Laxmi. In many houses, the door is left open during Laxmi puja for Laxmi to enter.
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