Festival of Lights
In Southern India, the holiday signifies the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura — while Northern India relates it to the story of King Rama's return to Ayodhya after he defeated Ravana by lighting rows of clay lamps. In Western India, the festival represents the day Lord Vishnu sent the demon King Bali to rule the nether world — while in Bengal and other parts of Eastern India, Goddess Kali is worshipped on this day.
Day one honors the birth of Lord Dhanvantri (the medicine god). To celebrate, followers typically clean their homes and purchase new items — particularly utensils and gold — to bring about good fortune.
Day two, known as Naraka Chaturdasi, honors the day Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama descended on the Earth to relieve the suffering of those tormented by Demon Narakasura. To celebrate, followers wake up early and apply aromatic oils to cleanse them of their sins. Clay lamps, or "diyas," are also used to decorate their homes.
Day three is the main day of the Diwali festival, also known as Lakshmi Puja. It honors the day Lord Rama finally returned home from exile. To celebrate, followers light up their homes with candles, lights and fireworks. Plus, Goddess Lakshmi (the female deity of wealth) is worshipped through prayer on this day as well. A big feast is often enjoyed.
Day four, known as Govardhan pooja, honors Lord Krishna who lifted the Govardhan Mountain to save the people from the wrath of Lord Indra. To celebrate, followers make a small replica of the mountain and decorate it with flowers before worshiping it.
The fifth and final day of the Diwali festival, known as Bhai Dooj, places a large emphasis on brotherly love — signifying the brother-sister bond between Lord Yama and his sister, Yami. To celebrate, brothers typically visit their sisters and are welcomed with a lavish meal.
Bright nights are ahead!