Deepavali or diwali means festival of lights. Deepa means light. Avali means group, thus meaning group of lights. Light signifies Shri Mahalakshmi, jnana etc. Deepavali festival comes in the middle of Chaathurmaasya.
In the Chathurmasya , The Supreme Lord Shri Narayana will do Yoga Nidra appearing to sleep , misleading undeserving demonic souls. This is the period to do Sath – Karmas, Dharma, Vrata and penances for all Satwika Jivas. Chathur Maasa means the four months from Aashada Maasa Sudha Ekadashi to Kaarthika Sudha Dwaadashi. In this period Naga Panchami, upaakarma, Shri Krishna Janmashtami , Ganesha Chathurthi, Mahalaya , Navarathri , Vijayadashami, Deepavali and Tulasi Vivaha festivals will take place. Chathurmaasya will end on the day of Utthana Dwaadashi. This signifies Lord Narayana awakening( Utth Anna) from Yoga Nidra. Before Lord Narayana Shri Lakshmi Devi will wake . The symbolic representation of this is the lightning of lamps, which is deepavali . Lakshmi Devi is the controller of Trigunas( Three good qualities) which covered with ajnana(ignorance) . Just as light eliminates darkness, Lakshmi Devi will eliminate all our ajnana when prayed to along with Narayana. There for by lightning lamps we welcome Lakshmi Devi to remove our ajnana and Bless us with health, wealth and all our needs.
The first day of diwali, we have to keep a lamp facing south outside the home. And we have to pray to Yama for eliminating Apamrutyu (unnatural death ) and Bless us . And this day we must decorate the bathing room and pray to Ganga and other river Goddesses to be present in the waters for our next day’s Pavithra Snana (Holy bath).
We must wake up early in the morning, do Nammaskara to all elders and seek blessings, and everybody should do Thaila Abhyanga(oil bath) muhurtha at 5:22am ( for year 2012) . The oil bath signifies removal of sins and poverty. Then we have to do special poojas to our Dear Lord. This is the day Lord Shri Krishna vanquished Narakaasura and removed from bondage all his prisoners. So this is the special day to pray Lord Shri Krishna to remove all difficulties and save us from hell.
This is the day to do Lakshmi Pooja . In the night we have to keep lamps lit all around the house and pray to Shri Lakshmi Devi along with Narayana.
Cow Pooja and Bali Pooja. On this day Lord Narayana took Vaamana and Trivikrama Roopa and blessed Bali Chakravarthi . And this is the day the Ganga River took birth when Lord Trivikrama’s foot hit Brahmanda Talpa.
From Prathama to Utthana Dwadashi
we have to do daily Tulsi Pooja and pray to Keshava and the other 12 Roopas of the Lord for 12 days . On Utthana Dwaadashi we have to do pooja to Tulsi with Kaartika Daamodara. This is the wedding day of Tulasi and Kaartika Daamodara. By celebrating all these traditional festivals our lives will be meaningful in accordance to our faith and devotion we will receive blessings from the Lord and all our good wishes will be fulfilled.
Source: Shri Swami Sugunendra Thirtha , Puttige Mutt , Udupi
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