Of all the festivals celebrated in India, Diwali is the most important festival, celebrated with lots of enthusiasm and happiness. Deepwali or Diwali means array of lamps. It falls on the moonless night, Amavasya, on the fifteen day in the month of Kartik. Diwali actually begins from the thirteenth day of the waning moon in 'Kartik' and goes on till the 'Dooj' or second day of waxing moon in the same month because according to Hindu calendar, a month is divided into two fortnights or Pakshas.
The festivals also mark the beginning of a new year for the people of Gujarat, the Marwaris businessmen.
Diwali is not just a one day festival, it starts from the 13th day of Kartik, known as Dhanteras. It is said the when demons and devas were churning the ocean for the amrit or nectar of immorality, the lord of medicine, Dhanwanti emerged from ocean with a jar of amrita. Lord Vishnu disguised as Mohini distributed the nectar to devas. On this day people usually buy new utensils and pray for the good health as well as peace and prosperity.
The 14th day is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi also famous as choti Diwali among the people. Narakasur was actually the son of goddess earth and had a demon's bent of mind. He liked to live in filth and was destructive by mind. He was slain by Vishnu in his eighth incarnation as Lord Krishna on this day. Then comes the 15th day Amavasya known as the Diwali day. It is the same day Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya with Goddess Sita, after killing the demon Ravan. After Diwali comes Annakoot, known as Govardhan. On this day people worship Govardhan mountain. The labour class or the workers cerebrate this day as Vishwakarma Puja and worship their tools and machinery. The festival of Diwali comes to end with Bhai Dooj.
Diwali is celebrated on large scale in almost all the regions of India. Preparations for the festival start well in advance. Houses are white washed and painted accordingly. Women get up early in the morning and decorate their houses with marigold strings, mango leaves and beautiful rangolis. It is a day when Goddess Lakshmi comes down to earth. People perform Lakshmi puja, seeking wealth and prosperity for the whole year. Some people do Ganesh Puja on this day and offer modak or laddoos to the elephant god Ganesha. Houses and streets are lit up with the candles and lights. In Bengal, Diwali is celebrated as the day for Kali puja.
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