Đīvālī - A Festival of Light & Happiness
दीवाली - दीपों व खुशियों का त्योहार
Always remember that Hinduism is about freedom. To celebrate Đīvālī you don't have to follow any orthrodox procedure etc. If you wish, you can; but remember the most important thing is to be happy. Enjoy.
Đīvālī (aka Đīpāvalī) is the most popular festival of India. It is mainly a Hinđū festival, but celebrated by most Bhāraŧiya/s (Sikhs, Jains...), Nepālī/s, etc. It generally coincides with the end of the main harvesting season of South Asia.
In towns and cities people celebrate by lighting (decorating) their homes and firing crackers. In towns and villages, people wear new clothes. Generally middle class people have some extra money during this time of the year, mainly because of the harvesting season or because of the savings, bonuses etc.. So they buy new cloths and goods. Houses are cleaned and decorated.
As soon as the farmers have the money they want to spend it! They should rather save it.
Đīvālī (दीवाली) is the short-form of Đīpāvalī (दीपावली) . These words mean 'a row of điyā/s'. Diyā (đīpak) is an earthen lamp that looks like a small saucer.
यह दक्षिण एशिया का प्रमुख त्योहार है। यह मुख्यतः हिन्दू त्योहार है।
It is celebrated over five days -
1st day - Đhanaŧeras (धनतेरस)
2nd day - Narak Chaŧurđashī (नरक चतुर्दशी)
3rd day - Lakṣhmī Pūjā (लक्ष्मी पूजा)
4th day - Govarđhan Pūjā (गोवर्धन पूजा)
5th day - BhāEE Đūj (भाई दूज)
On Đhanaŧeras (pronounced as Đhan'ŧeras) some people buy new utensils. But its OK if you don't go to some barŧanvālā (utensil vendor) on this day. Just be happy as Đīvālī just starts with this days. Do some house keeping/cleaning.
The Narak Chaŧurđashī is also called 'Rūp Chaŧurđashī' and also as 'Chhotī Đīvālī' (छोटी दीवाली). Some people bathe in the early morning (called brahma muhūrŧ). You may light a điyā and put it outside your house or on the window/balcony. It is believed that the Shrī·Kṛiṣhṇ killed a demon Narakāsur on this day.
On the third (main) day people light điyā/s and arrange them in rows. It is believed that on this day Shrī·Rām·chandra returned to Ayođhyā with his wife Sitā and brother Lakṣhmaṇ after vanvās (exile) of fourteen years. But that night was moonless (Amāvasyā) so everyone lit điyā/s to welcome them. It symbolises the victory of the Avaŧār (Rām) over the demon (rākṣhas) called Rāvaṇ.
To make a row of điyā/s you need just three of them! Why waste oil by lighting more? Stay green. If you don't have these điyā/s you can light three small candles or simply switch on the light of your porch, baranda or balcony. Some girls & women make designs (called rān'golī) on floor using colored powders.
It is also believed that on this day Lakṣhmījī appeared during 'samuđra manŧhan'. After elders have finished worshipping Lakṣhmījī (Goddess of wealth), young people and children fire crackers. It's ok for children to fire some small crackers. But grown-ups fire lots of polluting crackers to show-off, which is bad.
Govarđhan means increasing the number of cattle (mainly cows). It is believed that on this day Shrī·Kṛiṣhṇ lifted the Govarđhan mountain! In small towns and villages, some women make symbolic mountains for worship. Some temples organise 'Annakūt' (prasād) - for devotees.
On BhāEE Dūj, sisters put kum·kum on their brothers' forehead. Sisters pray for their brothers' long life. Brothers give gifts to their sisters. If you think your sister will be happy talking to you, give her a call.
The Đīvālī season finally ends with Ŧulasī Pūjā (तुलसी पूजा), on the eleventh day (Ekādashī) or the twelfth day (Dwādashī) of the Indian lunar month Kārŧik. You may celebrate this if you have missed out the main festival! You can simply have/make sweets. If you have a bāsil (ŧulasī) plant do some decorations around it!