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How to celebrate Diwali and importance The word Diwali has been derived from Dipawali which in turn

is formed by dipa + avali (row). Dipawali is thus a line or a row of lamps. During Diwali, lamps are lit everywhere. It is celebrated on four consecutive days - the thirteenth day (Dhanatrayodashi), the fourteenth day (Narak chaturdashi) and the new moon day (amavasya) [Lakshmipujan] of the dark fortnight of Ashvin and the first day of the bright fortnight of Kartik (Balipratipada). Some exclude the thirteenth and consider only the remaining three days as Diwali. Since Vasubaras and Bhaubij respectively precede and follow Diwali, they are included in it. However in reality they are separate holy festivals. Dhanatrayodashi: The thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Ashvin This itself is called Dhanteras in common language. Businessmen worship their treasuries on this day. A commercial year comprises of the period between one Diwali and another. New account books are begun on only this day. Dhanvantari jayanti : According to the Ayurveda it is the birthday of the deity Dhanvantari, so on this day Ayurvedic doctors (vaidyas) worship Him. They make an offering (prasad) of small pieces of neem leaves and sugar to visitors. This is of great significance as the neem fruit has originated from divine nectar (amrut) and Dhanvantari is the deity bestowing immortality. If one chews five to six neem leaves everyday then there is no chance of suffering from any malady. Such is its importance. It is for this very reason that it is distributed as a sacrament (prasad) of Dhanvantari. Yamadipadan Lord Yama (Yamaraj) is alloted the task of abducting one's life (pran). None has escaped or will escape death, according to time. However to prevent untimely death, on Dhanatrayodashi thirteen lamps made of wheat flour should be placed lit with oil, outside the house, facing southwards, in the evening. A lamp is never kept facing southwards except on this day. Narak chaturdashi: The fourteenth day (chaturdashi) of the dark fortnight of Ashvin According to Shrimadbhagvat Puran on this day Lord Krushna slayed Narkasur. A powerful demon called Bhoumasur or Narkasur formerly ruled a place named Pragjyotishpur. He began harassment of both deities and people. This cruel demon

began to harass women. He kept sixteen thousand princesses of marriageable age whom he had won over in battles, in prison and planned to marry them. This created chaos everywhere. When Lord Krushna heard this, along with Satyabhama He attacked the demon, slayed him and set the princesses free. The dying Narkasur asked Lord Krushna for a boon, "On this date (tithi) let one who takes an auspicious bath (mangalsnan) not suffer in hell". Lord Krushna granted him that boon. Consequently, the fourteenth (chaturdashi) day of the dark fortnight of Ashvin also came to be known as Narak chaturdashi and on that day people started bathing before sunrise. On this day when Krushna returned home at dawn, after slaying Narkasur, adorning a spot (tilak) of Narkasur's blood on His forehead, Nanda gave Him an auspicious bath. The women expressed their joy by moving lit lamps about His face (ovalani).' Yamatarpan (offering to Lord Yama) After a bath with an oil massage one should make an offering to Lord Yama to overcome untimely death (apamrutyu). This ritual of offering (tarpan) is explained in the religious almanac (panchang). One should consult the religious almanac and then perform it, accordingly. Thereafter the mother moves lit lamps in front of her children's faces (ovaLani). Some break karit (a bitter fruit) with their toes to signify the slaying of Narkasur while some apply a little of its juice onto the tongue as his blood. Lakshmipujan: The new moon day (amavasya) of Ashvin Worship of Lakshmi (Lakshmipujan) Though generally the new moon day is considered inauspicious, this is an exception to the rule. Though this day is considered auspicious it is not so for all events. Hence it would be more appropriate to call it a day of happiness rather than auspicious. 'After an auspicious bath at the break of dawn one should

worship the deities. In the afternoon a rite for the departed souls Sree Laxmipujan (parvanshraddha) and an offering of meals to Brahmans (Brahmanbhojan) is done and in the evening in a pandal decorated with creepers and leaves Lakshmi, Vishnu and other deities and Kuber are worshipped. A legend says that on this day Lord Vishnu along with Lakshmi liberated all the deities from BaLi's prison and thereafter they all slept in the ocean. To represent that, everyone should enjoy themselves at home and light lamps everywhere.

When ritualistically worshipping Lakshmi (Lakshmipujan) an idol of Lakshmi should be installed on a seat on which either an octapetalled lotus or a svastik is drawn with consecrated rice (akshata). Next to Her an idol of Kuber is placed on a pot (kalash). Then all these deities including Lakshmi are offered a sacrament (naivedya), a mixture of coagulated cow's milk (khava), sugar, cardamom and cloves. Then items like coriander, jaggery, corn obtained from parched, uncleaned rice, sugar candies (battase), etc. are offered to Lakshmi and then distributed to well-wishers and friends. Holding a bundle in the hand guidance is offered to ancestors. Brahmans and the hungry are offered meals. One keeps awake in the night. The Puran narrates that on the new moon night of Ashvin the deity Lakshmi wanders everywhere in search of an ideal home. Though undoubtedly cleanliness, beauty and excellence attract Her yet She loves to live in a home inhabited by men who are faithful, dutiful, merciful, righteous, have control over passions and are devotees of God, and women who are virtuous and chaste.' Just as the deities Lakshmi and Indra are worshipped on the religious festival of Kojagari, Lakshmi and Kuber are worshipped on this new moon day. Lakshmi is the deity of wealth but Kuber is the treasurer. Several people possess the art of earning money but do not know how to save it. However saving money and spending it appropriately is far more important than earning it. Since most people do not know how to spend money, their spending is unwarranted and ultimately, they become bankrupt. Kuber is the deity who teaches the art of saving money as He Himself is the treasurer. Therefore in this ritual the worship of Lakshmi and Kuber has been recommended. Though all people celebrate this festival, the business community in particular does so with great enthusiasm and splendour. Coriander seeds and parched corn from parched, uncleaned rice are offered in this ritual of worship, the reason for this being that coriander seeds (dhane) denote wealth and parched corn represents prosperity. If a few grains of parched, uncleaned rice are roasted one gets a handful of parched corn. Since one aspires to acquire the prosperity of deity Lakshmi, parched corn is offered symbolically. Driving off poverty (alakshmi) Development of virtues gains importance only if in the process defects are overcome. Just as one makes efforts to acquire wealth (Lakshmi), poverty (alakshmi) should also be destroyed. To signify that, on this day a new broom is bought. It is called Lakshmi. At midnight one should sweep the house with that

broom, accumulate the garbage in a dust pan and throw it out. This is called 'driving off' of alakshmi (garbage - poverty). Sweeping the house and throwing the garbage out at night is forbidden on other days. When removing the garbage at times alakshmi is driven out accompanied by music created by striking a sifting pan and an earthen vessel covered with a hide. Balipratipada: The first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of Kartik This is the half among the three and a half auspicious moments (muhurts). The story behind this goes thus - King Bali was immensely generous. He used to gift a guest with whatever he demanded. Though generosity is a virtue, in excess a virtue becomes a defect. What one should give, when and where is clearly prescribed in the scriptures and the Gita. Offering should be made to the deserving; not to the undeserving. But King Bali disregarding this would give anyone anything that he asked for. When an undeserving person acquires wealth he becomes arrogant and behaves as per his will. Lord Vishnu incarnated as a boy invested with the sacred thread (munja). Vaman means small. The munja is small in size and chants 'Give me alms as He asks for alms. When Lord Vishnu incarnated as Vaman, approached King Bali for alms the king asked Him, "What do you want ?" Vaman asked for land which covered three of His footsteps. Unaware of who Vaman was and not realising the consequence of this offering the king agreed to fulfil His wish. Immediately Vaman assumed a colossal form and covered the earth with one footstep. With the second He covered the sky and then asked King Bali where to place the third footstep. King Bali then told Him to place the third step on his head. Planning to send him to the nether world by doing so Vaman said, "Ask for any boon that you wish". The monarch then replied," Now my entire kingdom on the earth will be destroyed and you will send me to the nether world. So may this event of taking the three steps be represented on the earth for three days of the year as my reign." Those three days are the fourteenth day (chaturdashi) and the no moon (amavasya) day of the dark fortnight of Ashvin and the first day of (pratipada) the bright fortnight of Kartik. This is also called Bali's reign. The scriptures say that during Bali's reign one can behave as one wishes. However, one should refrain from acts prohibited by the scriptures. Eating prohibited foods, smoking and drinking prohibited drinks are the three prohibited acts. Hence on these days people can have a display of fireworks but they do not consume liquor. Since the scriptures permit this tradition people enjoy themselves on these days. This is Diwali. On Balipratipada a picture of King Bali and his Queen Vindhyavali is drawn with a special powder of soft white stone (rangoli) on the floor, decorated with five colours and worshipped and offered meat and liquor (naivedya). Then for

the sake of Bali, lamps and clothes are donated. On this day after an early morning bath with an oil massage (abhyangasnan) women move lit lamps in front of their husbands' faces. In the afternoon they feast on a meal with delicacies. People don new attire and celebrate the whole day through. There is also a practice of worshipping the mountain Govardhan (Govardhanpuja). A mountain of cowdung is made and durva (a sacred grass) and flowers are tucked into it. Pictures of Lord Krushna, the cowherds, Lord Indra, cows and calves are arranged alongside and also worshipped and are taken out in a procession. It is the beginning of the new year according to Vikram calendar. Bhaubij (Yamadvitiya) 'The second day (dvitiya) of the bright fortnight of Kartik is Bhaubij (Yamadvitiya) also named Yamadvitiya. This day is widely known as Bhaubij. On this day, Lord Yama visited His sister, Yamuna for a meal. Hence the day has acquired the name Yamadvitiya. On this day no man should eat a meal cooked by his wife. He should visit his sister, present her with clothes, ornaments, etc. and eat a meal at her place. If he does not have a sister by blood relation then he can go to a female cousin's place or consider any other woman as his sister and dine at her place. Since on this day Yamaraj visits His sister for a meal, the souls suffering in hell are liberated atleast for a day.' If a woman does not have a brother then considering any man as her brother she should perform the act of moving lit lamps around his face (arti). If that is not possible then she can consider the moon as her brother and perform it for the moon. To prevent untimely death (apamrutyu) on Dhanatrayodashi, Narak chaturdashi and Yamadvitiya, Yama, the deity of death should be worshipped and chanting His fourteen Names an offering (tarpan) should be made to Him. As a result, untimely death is averted. The offering is made with the resolve (sankalpa) which prevents untimely death with prayer which means 'Lord Yama, I am making this offering unto You'. One may consult the religious almanac (panchang) for the description of this ritual. Tulsi vivaha This ritual consists of uniting Lord Vishnu [an idol of Balkrushna (Infant Krushna)] and the basil (tulsi) plant in wedlock. In ancient times the practice of child marriage was prevalent. This ritual is performed on any day between the eleventh (ekadashi) and the full moon day (pournima) of the bright fortnight of Kartik. On the eve of the wedding the base of the basil plant is painted and decorated. Sugarcane and

marigold flowers are placed next to the plant and tamarind and amla are placed at its bottom. The wedding ceremony is performed in the evening. All the vowed religious observances undertaken in the four months (chaturmas) after the tuLsi vivaha on the twelfth day (dvadashi) of the bright fortnight of Kartik, are concluded. All the food items which one has not eaten due to forbiddance are first offered to a Brahman and then partaken of. DevDiwali This is a synonym for the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of Margashirsha. On this day, the family deity (kuladevata) is offered five delicacies as offering (mahanaivedya). Nature of the celebration > Decoration with lit lamps Lamps should be lit both inside and outside the house on the evening of Diwali. This gives the house a decorative look and generates enthusiasm and joy. Earthen lamps (pantis) lit with oil are more decorative and soothing than a string of electric bulbs. Dip actually means a flame obtained by lighting a wick soaked in oil. The Vedas (Shrutis) command 'Go from darkness to the flame, that is light'. The house in which lamps are not lit on these three days is perpetually in darkness. They cannot go towards light, that is spiritual knowledge. Offering lit lamps attracts Lakshmi. Each and everyone should celebrate the religious festival of Dipawali with enthusiasm so that Lakshmi perpetually inhabits one's home and one is enlightened with spiritual knowledge. This helps to maintain happiness and prosperity in the family. > Lanterns (akashkandil) 'This is a part of decoration with lamps. The lantern which is hung outside the house on a tall pole buried in the ground, with the help of a string, from the eleventh day (ekadashi) of the bright fortnight of Ashvin till the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of Kartik is called an akashdiva. The ritual of its installation is as follows. A small portion of ground close to the house should be smeared with cowdung. It should be sprinkled with water containing sandalwood paste and then an octapetalled lotus should be drawn. A pole of 20, 9 or 5 arms length should be buried in the middle of this spot. It should be decorated with cloth, festoons, eight bells and a pot. An octapetalled lantern should be made and fixed to the pole. A big

lamp should be lit in that lantern. Eight lamps should be lit around this lantern one in each petal of the lotus for the deities Dharma, Har, Bhuti, Damodar, Dharmaraj, Prajapati, ancestors (tamahasthita) and spirits. Sesame oil should be used to light the lamps. The lamp should be ritualistically worshipped with five substances (panchopachar puja) and raised on the pole chanting the mantra, Acquisition of wealth is the result of this ritual.' > Rangoli 'The basic Sanskrut word is rangavalli. A design created by allowing the powder of a special soft white stone to flow freely, with a pinch of the hand is called rangoli. rangoli is an art which precedes sculpture and painting. It is both an auspicious and a preliminary necessity in any religious ritual. It is a practice to draw rangoli at the site of any auspicious religious ritual such as a holy festival, a religious festival, an auspicious function, ritualistic worship, a vowed religious observance, etc. When performing the act of moving lit lamps about the face for someone (arti) too, rangoli is drawn around the wooden seat (pat) on which he is seated and also in front of him. At public functions also during a meal rangoli is drawn around a wooden seat and the plate or leaf on which the meal is served. During Diwali various rangoli designs are drawn at the doorstep and decorated with different colours. In the ancient times it was a practice to sweep and sprinkle every doorstep with cowdung everyday and draw rangoli. Rangoli is drawn with powder obtained by pounding a cleavable and lustrous mineral (shirgoLa). In the Konkan region the husks of rice are burnt and the white ash obtained is used as rangoli. rangoli powder is generally coarse. As a result it is easily released with a pinch. After smearing the ground with cowdung one should not forget to draw at least four lines of rangoli on it. Ground smeared with cowdung but not decorated with rangoli is said to be inauspicious. The two aims of drawing rangoli are revelation of beauty and the acquisition of auspiciousness. The forms drawn in the rangoli are symbolic. A curved line produces a better effect of beauty than a straight one. A conch, a svastik, the moon, the sun are other forms. Two parallel lines of rangoli are drawn. In the middle of the lines two curved lines are drawn so as to create a chain. This chain represents a serpent couple. The eight petals represent the universe with eight directions, as well as the sun and Lord Vishnu. The lotus is symbolic of Lakshmi as well as the energy for procreation, so it is given special importance in the worship of Lord Vishnu. Besides rangolis with a one-sided auspicious emblem (ekalingatobhadra), eight-sided propitious emblems (ashtalingatobhadra) and those which are auspicious on all sides (sarvatobhadra)

are also drawn pertaining to religious acts. In this a big square is divided into small squares. The small squares are then filled with vermilion (kumkum) in a specific manner so as to create the form of Shiva's linga. These rangolis are seen in the Shaiva sect. Another type of rangoli is drawn with the help of dots. First the dots are made on the ground and then lines, vertical and transverse are drawn joining these dots so as to create various figures such as a peacock, a tortoise, a lotus, a creeper, etc. Though this rangoli with dots is complicated, it is attractive. Usually it is women who draw rangolis. They do not require any devices such as a ruler, a thread, a brush, etc. to draw them. They freely move their fingers to create various shapes with ease. Every shape in a rangoli begins through her medium. rangoli is of two main types : form dominant and ornamental. Form dominant rangoli is found in the states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh and in South India. Lines, cones and circles are drawn proportionately. Ornamental rangoli is seen in Eastern India. In it importance is given to flowers, leaves, trees, creepers, animals and birds. Bangali women draw such rangolis with expertise. This rangoli is more appealing than the form dominant one. When revealing the theoretical secret of rangoli Mr. Anandghanaram writes, " When sweeping the floor or smearing with cowdung, subtle lines are created on it. These possess certain frequencies. Since these lines are irregular, their vibrations too are irregular. These are harmful to the body, eyes and mind as well. To overcome these unfavourable frequencies if cones and auspicious symbols are drawn systematically with rangoli on the smeared floor then the ill-effects of sweeping and smearing are overcome and favourable results are obtained".' > Ablution with oil (abhyangasnan) Bath with an oil massage is recommended on all the three days from Narak chaturdashi to Balipratipada.

Here is a delectable collection of traditional Diwali Recipes to help you make this Diwali celebrations more zestful!! The collection includes Recipes for Diwali deserts and snacks. Choose and cook your favorite Diwali Recipe with love and delight your dear ones in a very special way!! Malpua Ingredients: 1/2 kg maida. 750 gm sugar. 1/2 ltr.milk. 1 cup grated coconut. 6 bananas. 25gm dry fruits. 5-6 ilaichi. 1 ltr. Refined oil. Process 1 Boil the milk and stir it till it becomes thick. Then cool it. 2 In the milk add maida, sugar, dryfruits , coconut and ilaichi powder .Stir it till it becomes a paste. 3 Make banana paste and add it into the maida paste. 4 Hot oil in a pan. Make round shaped balls of the paste. 5 F ry these till they turn red. Wheat Laddu Ingredients: 1 cup Wheat Flour 1/4 cup Gram Flour 11/2 cup Sugar Powder 1/4 cup Grated Coconut 1/4 cup Dry Fruit almonds, raisins, kaju etc 1 cup Ghee Preparation: 1. Heat the ghee. 2. Put both the flours in the heated ghee. 3. When nearly roasted put coconut and sliced dry fruit in the mixture. 4. Now put the ground sugar in the mixture and stir thoroughly. 5. Take off from the heat quickly and make laddus. You may also put the mixture in

an oil based thali & make small pieces. Soan Papdi Ingredients: 1 1/4 cup Gram Glour 1 1/4 cup Maida 250 gms Ghee 2 1/2 cups Sugar 1 1/2 cup Water 2 tbsp Milk 1/2 tsp Cardamom seeds crushed coarsely 4" squares cut from a thin polythene sheet Preparation: 1. Sift both flours together. 2. Heat ghee in a heavy saucepan. Add flour mixture and roast on low till light golden. Keep aside to cool a little, stirring occasionally. 3. Prepare syrup simultaneously. Make syrup out of sugar, water and milk. Bring syrup to 2 1/2 thread consistency. 4. Pour at once into the flour mixture. Beat well with a large fork till the mixture forms threadlike flakes. 5. Pour onto a greased surface or thali and roll to 1" thickness lightly. Sprinkle the elaichi and gently press down with palm. 6. Cool, cut into 1" squares, wrap individually into square pieces of thin plastic sheet. Store in an airtight container. Mushrooms in Onion Gravy Ingredients : 200 gm Mushrooms 3 Onions 2 Tomatoes, finely chopped or pureed 3 Green chillies, finely chopped Coriander leaves Salt as per taste Red chili powder as per taste A pinch of garam masala powder A pinch of cardamom powder Oil

Preparation : 1. Slice mushrooms, boil them and keep aside. 2. Make a paste of the onions. 3. Heat oil in a wok and add the onion paste; cook till the paste turns golden brown. 4. Add the tomatoes, green chilies, salt and red chilli powder. 5. Cook the tomatoes till the gravy leaves the sides of the wok. 6. Add water if required. 7. Add the mushrooms and cook for a while. 8. Season with garam masala powder, cardamom powder and coriander leaves. Besan ki Barfi Ingredients : Besan 1 kg Sugar 1 kg Water 1/2 liter Ghee 1 kg For garnishing: Pistas, Almonds Preparation : 1. Fry besan in ghee on low flame for about 30 mins till it becomes pink and ghee separates. 2. Mix sugar and water into a syrup. 3. Add this syrup to the besan and mix well. 4. Pour this mixture into a greased tray. 5. When it cools cut into cubes and garnish with pistas and almonds.

Karanji Ingredients : For Filling: 1 cup grated Dry Coconut 1 cup Powdered Sugar 1 pinch Nutmeg Powder 1 pinch dry Ginger Powder 4 Elaichi 2 tsp Maida 2 tsp Poppy Seeds 2 tbsp Mixed Dry fruit pieces

For Dough: 1 cup maida 1 tsp Ghee Salt to taste Warm milk to prepare dough Preparation : 1. Roast Dry coconut. 2. Roast maida in ghee. 3. Roast poppy seeds. 4. Mix all the above ingredients & grind them. For Dough: Mix all the dough ingredients & prepare dough (a little hard). For Karanji: 1. Make small oval shaped puris from dough. 2. Fill the prepared stuffing inside. 3. Apply some water or milk so that it will seal properly (don't apply too much of water as it will not seal properly). 4. Deep fry it till it becomes brownish colour. 5. Serve it hot or cold. 6. Karanjis can be stored for weeks. Sesame Seed (Til) - Khoya laddu Ingredients : 2 cups khoya 1&1/2 cups of coarsely powdered roasted sesame seeds (til) Powdered sugar to taste Kesar, chopped almonds and pistas for decoration Preparation : 1. Roast the khoya on low flame till it is very light golden yellow color. 2. Let is cool for few minutes. 3. Then add coarsely powdered roasted sesame seeds and mix it. 4. Add powdered sugar when the above mixture is luke warm. 5. Mix well and shape into small balls. If the mixture is too hot then the sugar will melt so care has to be taken that mixture should not be hot. 6. Arrange in a plate and decorate with kesar, chopped almonds and pistas.

Method for Making Khoya in Microwave: 1. Take three cups of full cream milk powder in microwave oven proof casserole. 2. Add sufficient water to make a thick paste. 3. Add 2 tablespoon of ghee. 4. Cover with plastic cling film and microwave for 3 minutes with in between stirring. (Time depends on power of Microwave oven.) GUJIA Ingredients : Flour 250 grams Khoya 500 grams Raisins a few Almonds 100 grams (finely chopped) Cooking oil 3 tablespoon Water 100 ml Sugar 250 grams Preparation : Mix the oil and flour properly to form a binding consistency of breadcrumbs. Add some water and knead lightly the entire mixture. Make it soft dough and set it aside with a damp cloth covering it. Fry the khoya in cooking oil till it becomes light brown and then mix the sugar in it properly. Add the almonds and raisins, and fry for a few more minutes. Remove from fire and let it cool. Make small thick chapattis out of that kneaded dough. Fill half of the chapatti with the khoya mixture and, rolling it, seal the sides of the chapatti keeping the khoya inside it. Make the sealing look decorated by giving a look of hemming. Deep-fry these gujias until it becomes light golden brown, keeping the flame at low. Take out the gujias on a newspaper and let the oil get soaked. Serve hot or store it in an airtight container for using it on that special day. ALPUA Ingredients : 1 cup sugar 1-1/2 cups wheat flour 4 tbsp yogurt or curd 10-15 whole peppercorns Milk Water

Preparation : Make a batter of all of these dry ingredients and the dahi, using 1/2 milk and 1/2 water till it is thick and of pouring consistency, similar to pancake or dosa batter. And whip till smooth. Add the 10 peppercorns. Keep aside and allow it to rise for about two hours. Heat oil on a medium flame. Drop large ladlefuls into the oil to form circles of 6-8 inches. Typically the dough will sink and line the bottom of the karhai and rise up in the shape of a disc. Fry till golden. Drain and pat off the oil. Serve with cream or garnished with pista. Serves five.