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RITUALS OF DEEPAVALI POOJA Deepavali is a festival which has gained its popularity owing to the nature of its celebrations.

It has long been considered to have a religious significance which is now lost in the universal feelings of goodness and joy which envelop everyone on this day. Of all traditional Indian festivals, Divali can be safely said to be the most widely accepted and loved by the people of this country. It is one of those rare occasions which give Indians a unique identity. Lakshmi Pujan on Dipavali An important part of Diwali festival is Lakshmi Puja. This pujan is carried out by households and especially by the business community in India. It is also considered New Year by business people so much so that all new accounts are opened on this day after the ritual of praying to the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. This Hindu deity represents prosperity, wealth and good fortune. Diwali Pooja Preparations Deepavali Pooja is performed before the sun sets over the dark night of amavasya. The actual time for this Puja is calculated by religious scholars and pundits which is declared in newspapers the day before Dipawali. When preparing for the traditional Pooja, idols of Lakshmi Ganesh, kalash, roli, mouli, coins, rice grains, kumkum for tilak, betel leaves and betel nuts, incense sticks, camphor, flowers, garlands are required. For offerings and prasad, sweets and fruits are needed. One essential before the puja is a neat and clean house illuminated with Diyas and candles welcoming Goddess Laxmi and driving away evil spirits. Rangolis are drawn at the entrance and small footprints with rice flour and vermilion are also drawn to indicate the long awaited arrival of Goddess Lakshmi. Oil lamps are kept burning throughout the night to guide Lakshmi after her secret arrival in the nighttime. Lakshmi Ganesh Pooja Sequence It is considered auspicious to start every Pooja by taking Shri Ganeshas name and so is true with Lxmi Pujan as well. The idols are given a ritual bath and seated on a platform. Devotional song called aarti is sung and prasad is distributed amongst everyone gathered. Every family performs this Puja so as to please the Gods to shower them with prosperity and wellbeing. Fire crackers can be burst only after the pooja completion. It is to be noted that this Puja is a combined worship of five deities. Lord Ganesha is worshipped first. Ma Lakshmi is worshipped in all her three forms as Mahalakshmi - the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, Mahasaraswati - the Goddess of Learning and Mahakali. Another God that is worshipped on Deewali is Lord Kuber - the Treasurer of Gods.

The word "Diwali" is a contraction of "Deepavali", originating from the Sanskrit word Dpval which can be translated to "Row of Lights". Hence the Diwali Festival is also called the "Festival of Lights". Diwali is the name for the festival in North-India. In South-India the festival is called "Deepavali". Diwali celebrates to victory of the Good over the Evil and Light over Darkness. Is has a major religious significance for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains alike - not only in India, but also for Indians living abroad. In the western (gregorian) calendar, Diwali falls on a day in October or November every year - just after the monsoon season in India. The exact date varies and is being calculated based on the Hindu Luni-Solar calendar (according to the positions of the Sun and the Moon). The day of Diwali falls on Ashvina Amavasya (the lunar day of new moon) on 15 Ashvin (Hindu month). This date also marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year, and many businesses in India starting a new accounting year on the Diwali holiday. Diwali is a festival over 5 days. On the first day (Dhanteras) people pray to Goddess Laxmi for prosperity and wealth. The second day (Choti Diwali) is also known as 'Small Diwali', 'Naraka Chaturdashi' or 'Kali Chaudas' in some states. According to the legend, Lord Kirshna killed the evil daemon Narakasura on this day. People worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Rama. The third day is the actual day of Diwali. Many devotees visit their Temples for worshipping Lakshmi, Goddess of beauty, wealth and wisdom with Laxmi Poojas and also pray to Ganesh, the 'Lord of Beginnings' and 'Remover of Obstacles'. When Aarti is performed, oil lamps with a cotton wick are placed on a Puja Thali and offered to the deities, praising the deity by singing wonderful Aarti songs. At night people light up little oil lamps called Diyas, Dipa Lights or Ghee Lamps and place them around their houses. They hang colorful lanterns and fairy lights, enjoying firework displays or blasting firecrackers. The forth day (Padwa) is 1 Kartika in the Hindu calendar and is also known as Govardhan Puja or Annakoot. It is said that Krishna defeated the god of rain and the heavens Indra on that day. He lifted Mount Govardhana to save people's life from the floods. On this day people cook mountains of food resembling Mount Govardhana. According to another legend followed in South-India, Vishnu defeated the demon-king Bali on this day. Finally the fifths and last day of Diwali is called 'Bhaiduj' ('Bhai Dooj') also known as 'Yama Dwitiya'. This is the day for brothers and sisters to strengthen their relationships. Just like Yami prayed for her brother Yama (God of Death), sisters are praying for their brother's well-being on this day, and brothers give little gifts to their sisters in return. On Diwali families gather and eating lots of foods and sweets. It is also common to send Diwali greeting cards to family members, relatives and friends. Recently however it is becoming more popular to send Diwali eCards or Diwali SMS. Diwali Mela (Fairs) takes place not only in India, but in many countries in the world.