Basanth Panchami Diwali Durga Puja Dussehra Ganesha Chaturthi Hanuman Jayanthi Holi
Krishna Janamashtami Makarasankranthi Nagapanchami Navarathri Rama Navami Shivrathri
Shivrathri Rama Navami Navarathri Nagapanchami Makarasankranthi Krishna Janamashtami
Holi Hanuman Jayanthi Ganesha Chaturthi Dussehra Durga Puja Diwali Basanth Panchami


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According to another belief, it is on this day that Lakshmi emerged from the ocean during the samudra manthan. Lakshmi Puja commemorates her birth and therefore forms a major part of Diwali celebrations. Being associated with the goddess of wealth and fortune, Diwali is especially important to the Vaishya community. Most tradesmen close their old ledgers and dealings and start afresh with new ledgers after Diwali. This day, with its emphasis on money, is also considered lucky for gambling. Giving social sanction to a vice, a popular saying states that one who does not gamble on this day will be born a donkey in his next birth. Casinos and local gambling houses do brisk business during the Diwali week. In most homes, people invite their friends and relatives over to play cards.

Another reason for the celebration of Diwali is that it marks the killing of the evil Narkasura at the hands of Krishna. Naraka is believed to have abducted 16, 000 women. Krishna killed him and rescued these women whom he later married. Though Diwali is equally important in the south and the north, the celebrations are markedly different. In South India, the story widely associated with Diwali is that of Narasimha, the man-lion incarnation of Vishnu. According to a legend, Hiranyakshipu was an evil demon king. He was unjust and cruel to his people. However, he was almost invincible, having extracted a boon from Brahma that he would be killed neither by beast nor man, neither inside nor outside, neither during the day nor at night. When his atrocities became unbearable, the gods sought Vishnu's help. Assuming his fourth incarnation of Narasimha, the man-lion, Vishnu killed Hiranyakshipu with his claws in the courtyard just before daybreak, hence steering clear of the boundaries of the boon.

For this reason in the south, people light diyas in their houses on the day preceding Diwali. The next day begins early. First is the ritual bath, which begins with an oil massage of the hair and body. This is absolutely essential on this day. Its importance probably refers to cleaning oneself thoroughly after the monsoon months. After bathing, people receive new clothes and gifts from their elders, which they are expected to wear. The family then prays to Vishnu for its well being and prosperity.

diwali After the prayers start the main celebrations which, as in the north, consist of bursting crackers and lighting candles. At daybreak, all celebrations end. People then visit friends and relatives and exchange sweets. References to the word 'atishbaji' or 'crackers' are found even in ancient literature. The bursting of crackers is today the most important and eagerly awaited part of the Diwali celebrations. According to one belief, the sound that resounds throughout the universe makes all aware of the great homecoming of Rama. Another belief is that the crackers are an indication of the joy of the people living on the earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state. Still another possible reason has amore scientific basis: the fumes produced by the crackers kill a lot of insects, found in plenty after the rains.

In the Western part of India, the legend relates to a demon monarch who performed penance that the gods in heaven began to feel threatened. So Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a dwarf Vamana and came down to the earth as the fifth incarnation. At that time, the demon king was performing a great sacrifice on the earth, in the true Vedic traditions. It was believed that he satisfied all those came to him, by giving them promised gifts. Vamana went to him. Bali said that Vamana was late and that he had very little to give him. Vamana asked for just three steps. The demon king felt reassured. He laughed and granted the request. The dwarf measured the earth with his first step, growing enormously in size as he did so. With another he measured the heaven. "Where do I keep my third step?" he asked Bali. Bali realized that was none other than the Lord himself and so bowed and offered his head for the third step. When Bali was vanquished, the Lord also released prisoners of Bali, among which were Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. When Lakshmi and Ganesh came down to earth, they brought great prosperity to the people.
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