March 24, 2017: Papavimochana Ekadasi, Chaitanya Prabhu Jayanthi
March 25, 2017: Sani Trayodasi
March 26, 2017: Maasa Sivaratri
Diwali, or Deepavali, is an important festivals celebrated all over India and in parts of Asia. The festival is celebrated with much enthusiasm and in a befitting manner as Kali Pooja in West Bengal.
Diwali is followed by Naraka Chaturdasi which falls on Chaturdasi day. Diwali generally comes in the months of October / November every year. This day has a special role in performing this festival. The holy day marks the vanquishing of Naraka by Lord Krishna and Satyabhama. Termed as the Festival of Lights, Diwali earmarks the celebrations on the news of return of Lord Rama back to Ayodhya after years of stay at forest. Diwali is the symbol of the victory of the forces of good over evil. There are so many legends that deal with the importance of this festival.
According to a legend, Narakasura, the son of Bhudevi acquired immense power and as a result of performing severe penance to Lord Brahma. He unleashed a reign of terror in the Kingdom of Kamarupa harassing everyone with his might. Unable to bear with, the celestial beings approached Lord Krishna to save them from his torture.
Unfortunately, Naraka had a boon that he could face death only at the hands of his mother Bhudevi. Lord Krishna asked Satyabhama who is the reincarnation of Bhudevi to be the charioteer in the battle. During the battle Lord Krishna fell unconscicious, and then Satyabhama aimed the arrow on Naraka and killed him.
The day Naraka got killed on the Chaturdasi prior to New Moon in Krutika Month. There is overwhelming joy and people were happy over the death of Naraka and on the next day Diwali is performing. According to another legend, it is believed that the celebration of the marriage of Goddess Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. During this day, lights illuminate every corner of the country with joy and hope. It symbolizes that the people enjoy happiness throughout the year as they are coming from darkness to brightness.
'Lakshmi Puja' is performed at nights. The Hindus worship Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth on this day. They pray so that Goddess Lakshmi may visit their houses. On the day Lakshmi Puja is performed, it is extremely to keep the house spotlessly clean and pure. According to the Hindu mythology, Goddess Lakshmi like cleanliness, and she visits the cleanest house first. This is also the reason why the broom is worshipped on this day with offerings of haldi and kumkum (turmeric and vermilion). Lamps are lit in the evening to welcome the Goddess. Hindus are believed to light up her path.
Lakshmi Puja consists of a combined puja of five deitiesL
Ganesha is worshipped at the beginning of every auspicious act of Vighnaharta; Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped in her three forms – Mahalakshmi (the goddess of wealth and money), Mahasaraswati (the goddess of books and learning), and Mahakali; Kuber (the treasurer of the gods) is also worshipped. All the Hindu households hold their private puja. Small idols of Lord Ganesh and goddess Lakshmi are brought. In the holy books, there is an elaborate description of the rituals that have to be performed. In absolute cleanliness and with total devotion, the rituals are carried out in each household and business place to appease the Goddess. The whole family sits together at the feet of the Goddess while the worship is going on.
Lakshmi is the Goddess of light, beauty, good fortune and wealth. While Lakshmi is generally worshipped to achieve success, she does not reside long with anyone who is lazy or desires her only as wealth. Lakshmi puja is held with much pomp and splendor to appease her. After all the very word Lakshmi is synonym of wealth in Hindi language.
Once the worship part is over, crackers are burst to celebrate Diwali. According to the tradition, crackers are supposed to be burst only after the rituals are over, but children hardly follow the tradition. Their eagerness and excitement is at the peak. Many traditional dishes are prepared and there is a custom of meeting all the elders after performing the puja to seek their blessings.
Sloka to attain financial prosperity:
"Om Shreem Maha Lakshmi Devi Swaha"
Chanting of this mantra can be done either to tide over financial troubles or to attain new levels of prosperity. Even the other ten regal qualities of Goddess Lakshmi may also accrue in us, from the practice of this month.
Diwali falls on the following days in the respective years:
2014: October 23
2012: Tuesday, November 13
2011: Wednesday, October 26, 2011
2010: Friday, November 5
2008: Tuesday, October 28
2007: Friday, November 9
2006: Sunday, October 21
2005: Tuesday, November 1
2004: Friday, November 12