And this is how Diwali is celebrated in India’s southernmost state!
Diwali or Deepavali is celebrated all over India to commemorate the return of Rama to Ayodhya after slaying Ravana. It is believed that to welcome their beloved prince, the residents of Ayodhya lit oil lamps outside their homes to show Rama the way back home. Thus began the practice of lighting lamps during Diwali.
The festival falls on the day preceding the new moon, in the solar month of Aipassi, according to the Tamil calendar.
Day 1: Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi
Observed two days before Diwali, Asweyuja Bahula Thrayodasi signifies the importance of wealth and is also known as Dhana Trayodsi in Tamil Nadu. On this day, the devotee has to place the Kubera Yantra in the puja room and pray to Lord Vigneswara to seek the blessing of Lord Kubera. One has to offer dry dates, honey and jaggery to the lord and light a ghee lamp. Women buy silver and gold for the house, and doorways are decorated with garlands made of mango leaves and marigolds. Dhanvantari, the goddess of health and wealth is worshiped by cleaning the house, buying new clothes and new utensils. 13 lamps made out of flour and lit with oil are placed outside the house, facing southwards in the evening and kept burning throughout the night, to keep death and sorrow away. It is also known as Yamadeepdaan.
Day 2: Naraka Chaturdashi
This day marks the death of the evil king Narakasura at the hands of Aditi and Krishna. Lamps that consist of four wicks are lit and placed all around the house and people make an effigy of Narakasura to burn, following which they bathe and burst crackers to celebrate the death of the evil soul.
Day 3: Balindra Puja, Thalai Deepawali and Kaumudi Mahotsavam
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Balindra Puja is performed in households across most South Indian states including Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The day marks the beginning of a new month with the lighting of the Kartika deepa (or lamp) at the doorstep, facing southwards and is observed in the morning of the 13th day of Ashwija. Houses are cleaned as well as decorated with various flowers and artificial decorations.
Thalai Deepawali is the celebration dedicated to newlyweds who celebrate their first Diwali after marriage. The celebrations includes a visit to the temple, distribution of new clothes, jewelry and sweets and the seeking of blessings from all the elders of the family. Like every day of Diwali, a grand display of fireworks follows.
Late at night women bring out their household objects like dustpans, mops and brooms to drive away Jyesthadevi, the goddess of penury. This practice was popular in ancient Tamil Nadu and is followed in some households to this very day. It is believed that on Amavasya (full moon night), Lakshmi is present in sesame oil and Gangadevi is present in various water bodies and hence sesame oil is used for bathing to fight death.
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Day 4: Bali Padyam
Also known as Balipadyami is the day on which Bali is worshiped. According to legends, when Vishnu was born as Vamana (the dwarf), he tricked Bali and banished him into the underworld. Prahlada, Bali’s grandfather begged Vishnu to send him back but to no avail. Vishnu did however make Bali the king of the underworld and granted him the permission to return to earth for just one day in the entire year so he could be with his people who would worship him by lighting millions of lamps for his sake. And hence, Balipadyami came to be celebrated.
Day 5: Yamadvitheya
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Observed on the fifth day of Diwali, Yamadvitheya celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. On this day, sisters worship berry trees and seek the blessings of their brothers. Together, they join hands and take a sacred dip in the river Yamuna to strengthen their bond. According to folklore, it was on this day that the river Yamuna and her brother Yama were reunited after a long separation period.