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Diwali Gifts To India
The best known of the Hindu festivals, Diwali is celebrated throughout India, at the New Moon on the fifteenth day of the month Kartika, or Ashwin (october/november), as well as in Indian communities throughout the world. Diwali or Deepawali, is also known as the Festival of Lights. Sanskrit word "Deepavali" - Deepa meaning light and Avali, meaning a row.
In Hindu custom Light signifies the goodness. During this festival oil lamps (DEEP) are burned throughout the night. All Homes (indoor as well as outdoor) are filled with "Deeps" and decoration lights. This is a five days festival; each of the five days in the festival of Diwali is marked with a significant 'puja' of a certain God/Goddess.
The five days celebration of Diwali begins with "Laxmi Puja". "Laxmi Puja" is the day to worship Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. Indian culture has never considered wealth to be corruptive . According to the Indian culture a wealthy man is considered to be God's beloved child, he is rewarded for the good deeds done in past life.
First Day: DhanTeras Or Dhanatrayodashi
Dhanteras is also known as Dhanatrayodashi, Dhanteras falls on the thirteenth day of the month of ashwin. (i.e. after two days of diwali). The word "Dhan" means wealth. As such this day of the five-day diwali festival has a great importance for the rich mercantile community of western India. Houses and business premises are renovated and decorated. Entrances are made colorful with lovely traditional motifs of rangoli designs to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity. To indicate her long-awaited arrival, small footprints are drawn with rice flour and vermilion powder all over the houses. Lamps are kept burning all through the nights. On this auspicious day women purchase some gold or silver or at least one or two new utensils. Pooja is performed in the evenings when tiny diyas of clay are lighted to drive away the shadows of evil spirits. "Bhajans"-devotional songs- are sung in praise of Goddess Lakshmi.
Second Day: Narak Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali
The Second day is called Narka-Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali which falls on the fourteenth day of the month of Ashwin. The Narak Chaturdashi or Chhoti Diwali is celebrated with same zeal and enthusiasm as the main diwali but it is on comparatively lower scale. Just like diwali people light diyas on chhoti diwali to fill their homes with light, worship Goddess Laxmi and offer prayers to Her and they also burst firecrackers but all these things are not as grand as they are on the day of main diwali (Badi Diwali).
Third Day: Lakshmi Puja
Goddess Lakshmi means Good Luck to Hindus. The word 'Lakshmi' is derived from the Sanskrit word Laksya, meaning 'aim' or 'goal', and she is the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
The third day of the festival of Diwali is the most important day of Lakshmi-puja and is entirely devoted to the propitiation of Goddess Lakshmi. The day of Lakshmi-Puja falls on the dark night of Amavasya.Lakshmi Pooja, or the worship of the goddess of wealth, is the main event on Diwali in North and West India. It is extremely important to keep the house spotlessly clean and pure on Diwali. Goddess Lakshmi likes cleanliness, and she will visit the cleanest house first. This is also the reason why the broom is worshiped on this day with offerings of Turmeric and kumkum. Lamps are lit in the evening to welcome the goddess. They are believed to light up Her path.
Fourth day: Govardhan puja
Govardhan-Puja is also performed in the North on this day. Govardhan is a small hillock in Braj, near Mathura and on this day of Diwali people of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar build cowdung, hillocks, decorate them with flowers and then worship them. This festival is in commemoration of the lifting of Mount Govardhan by Krishna. As per Vishnu-Puran the people of Gokul used to celebrate a festival in honor of Lord Indra and worshiped him after the end of every monsoon season but one particular year the young Krishna stopped them from offering prayers to Lord Indra who in terrific anger sent a deluge to submerge Gokul.
People were afraid that the downpour was a result of their neglect of Indra. But Krishna assured them that no harm would befall them. He lifted Mount Govardhan with his little finger and sheltered men and beasts from the rain. This gave him the epithet Govardhandhari. After this, Indra accepted the supremacy of Krishna.
This day is also observed as Annakoot Meaning Mountain of food. Pious people keep awake the whole night and cook fifty-six or 108 different types of food for the bhog (the offering of food) to Krishna. In temples especially in Mathura and Nathadwara, the deities are given milkbath, dressed in shining attires with ornaments of dazzling diamonds, pearls, rubies and other precious stones. After the prayers and traditional worship innumerable varieties of delicious sweets are ceremoniously raised in the form of a mountain before the deities as "Bhog" and then the devotees approach the Mountain of Food and take Prasad from it.
Fifth Day: Bhayya Duj
The festival of Diwali is not complete without yet another festival, known by the name of "Bhayya-Duj" in the Hindi-speaking belt, "Bhav--Bij" in the Marathi-speaking communities, "Bhai Phota" to the Bengalees and in Nepal by the name of "Bhai-Tika". It is observed on the second day following Diwali or the new moon. As the legend goes Yamraj, the God of Death visited his sister Yami on this particular day. She put the auspicious tilak on his forehead, garlanded him and led him with special dishes and both of them together ate the sweets, talked and enjoyed themselves to their heart's content, while parting Yamraj gave her a special gift as a token of his love and in return Yami also gave him a lovely gift which she had made with her own hands. That day Yamraj announced that anyone who receives tilak from his sister will never be thrown. That is why this day of Bhayyaduj is also known by the name of "Yama-Dwitiya" Since then this day is being observed as a symbol of love between sisters and brothers. It became also imperative for the brother to go to his sister's house to celebrate Bhayya-duj.
Celebration of Diwali festival is invariably accompanied by the exchange of sweets and the explosion of fireworks. Crackers resound and light up the earth and the sky. The faces of boys and girls flow with a rare charm in their dazzling hues and colors. And all this illumination and fireworks, joy and festivity, is to signify the victory of divine forces over those of wickedness.
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