Posted in the Ganesh Chaturthi Forum
#1 Aug 17, 2006
Dhan Teras: Two days before Diwali, on the thirteenth day of the dark half of Kartik, Dhan Teras or Dhanvantari Trayodashi is observed. Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods, who emerged from the cosmic ocean when it was churned by gods and demons, is worshipped, especially by the medical community.
He is considered the founder of Indian systems of medicine, especially of Ayurveda. He is also called Sudha-pani because he appeared from the ocean carrying nectar in his hands. People rise at dawn, bathe, and wear new clothes. A fast is observed during the day, broken after an earthen-lamp is lit in front of the door of the house. New utensils are bought to symbolise acquisition of prosperity through the year.
Narak Chaturdashi: The day after Dhan Teras and/or Diwali eve is Narak Chaturdashi. It is dedicated to Yama, the god of Naraka or hell. Those who bathe early in the morning on this day, after an oil massage, are believed to earn religious merit with religious points earned getting nullified if the bath happens after sunrise.
After the bath, Yamraj is offered libations three times to avoid the tortures of death. A fast is maintained. In the evening, lamps are lit in honour of Yama. Piety on Narak Chaturdashi liberates the worshipper from a future in hell. People in South and West India celebrate Narak Chaturdashi as the day when Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasur.
Diwali or Kartik Amavasya: Diwali is celebrated on the last day of the dark half of Kartik. According to the myth, the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, comes to earth on this day. People tidy up their homes, offices, and shops, and decorate them lavishly to welcome her, lighting lamps at night to illuminate her way into the premises.
Diwali also celebrates the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana. King Vikramaditya was crowned on this day and the New Year according to the Vikram era, which was initiated in 56 BC, begins.
Govardhan Puja: Govardhan Puja is celebrated on Pratipada, or the first day of the bright fortnight of Kartik, the day following Diwali. Annakut is also observed. On this day, Krishna lifted the Govardhan mountain in Vrindavan with his little finger and held it so for seven days to protect the cows and people of the town from the deluge sent down by an enraged Indra, the god of heaven and rain.
Even today, people from all over India visit, worship and circumambulate Mount Govardhan on Pratipada. Those who cannot go to the site worship it at home with great devotion and give gifts to Brahmins. Cows and bulls are also decorated and worshipped.
Bhai Dooj: Bhai Dooj celebrates the affection between a brother and his sister. It is observed on the second day of the bright fortnight of Kartik, the day after Govardhan Puja. Married women invite their brothers to their homes, apply turmeric or sandal paste tilaks on their foreheads, tie a coloured thread on their right wrists, pray for their prosperity and longevity and then feed them with sweets.
In return, they receive gifts. Sisters fast and pray to Yama, who was deeply attached to his sisters, Yami and the Sun-born Yamuna. Bhaiya Dooj is also called Yama Dvitiya.
Diwali in North India
Diwali in West India
Diwali in South India
Diwali in East India
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