Today, November 14th, marks the second day of the 2012 Diwali Festival of Lights known as Choti Diwali, Naraka Chaturdashi, or Kali Chaudas. It is the 14th day of the Hindu month of Ashwin and the most important day of the festival for South Indians. Legend has it that on this day God Krishna defeated the evil demon Narakasura and is therefore celebrated by Hindus as a triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. It is not surprising then that Kali, which translates as dark, the Goddess of death, time, and change, is celebrated.
On this day of Diwali many perform Poojas, or religious offerings, for Lakshmi and Rama with delicious foods. It is also tradition to bathe in fragrant oils before the sun comes up early in the morning and wear fresh new clothing as part of the day’s ritual. Bathing under the cloak of darkness and stars is regarded as honoring the holy river of Ganges. Families and friends gather together for shared meals and celebrate the richness of the day with song and collective activities.
The morning after Choti Diwali women often make beautiful Rangoli around their houses and yards. Rangoli are artistic designs made on the floors of Hindu households and yards during religious festivals. They are thought to be welcoming areas for the Gods and are traditionally made from colored rice, colored flour, sand, and flower petals.
To celebrate, gather materials around the house such as rice, grains, flower petals, beads, or anything small and vibrant in color. Use dyes or food coloring to add color to less than vibrant pieces. Once you have gathered up enough supplies, make the entrance way to your home or business colorful using what you have collected. This is a joyful way to welcome the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity Lakshmi to your home so that she may bless you in the coming year. Examples of Rangoli designs can be found across the internet for inspiration!
Lakshmi is no doubt worshiped throughout the year as the important Hindu Goddess of Wealth, but she is most astutely worship during the Hindu festival of Diwali, festival of lights. Diwali is a very important 5-day holiday on the Hindu calendar in which families celebrate traditional activities together in their homes. Participants in Diwali light small clay oil lamps which represents the conquering of good over evil. The lamps are left lit throughout the night as followers cleanse their homes in order to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. Throughout history people have put oil lamps outside their homes on Diwali in hopes that Lakshmi would come visit their homes and bless them. Lakshmi Puja is the most important day of the Diwali festival of lights in northern India. Fireworks are set off in order to send away evil spirits. Sweets and snacks are shared among family and friends and an overall grand celebration ensues.
It is no question that the Diwali festival is a celebration of great joy for Hindus, honoring Lakshmi’s abundance in their lives. Lakshmi is an endless symbol of wealth in all its forms. Wealth comes in many ways, not just the monetary wealth we think of. She is a symbol of wealth of knowledge, wealth of courage, wealth of victory, and every other way in which wealth manifests. Thus she is celebrated for her endless abundance. Lakshmi is a symbol of luck to most Hindus and is celebrated daily in most homes. She is a symbol of femininity for Hindu women with her gorgeous golden complexion sitting upon a blooming lotus bud. The budding lotus represents fertility and purity. She is believed to lead devotees into both material and spiritual prosperity.
As October is coming to a close, many Hindus are prepping for Diwali to start on the 13th of November, celebrated through the 17th of November. Prep your oil lamps and prepare to celebrate with Hindus across the globe and celebrate the diving beauty Lakshmi, Hindu Goddess of Wealth.
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