Diwali, Festival Cuisine, Diwali Laxmi Puja Aarti, Dhanteras, Bhai Dooj
Diwali or more aptly Deepavali festival is enthusiastically celebrated for five continuous days, in which the festivity begins two days prior and ends two days after Diwali, and each day has its significance with a number of myths, legends and beliefs. The Fourth day is celebrated as 'Padva' or 'Bali Pratipada' to commemorate King Bali. In North India it is celebrated as 'Govardhan-Puja' to mark the lifting of Goverdhan Mountain by Lord Krishna.The Fifth and final day of Diwali Festival is known by the name of 'Bhaiya-Duj' that is observed as a symbol of love between sisters and brothers on this particular day Sisters put the auspicious tilak on their Brother's forehead, and feed them with special dishes. This festival is known as Bhai Bij in Gujarati and Bhai Phota in Bengali.
During Diwali celebrations, Govardhan Puja is celebrated with lots joy and fervor in the Northern parts of India particularly in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Govardhan Puja festival is associated with a mythological legend in which Lord Krishna lifted the Mount Govardhan to protect the people & cattle of Gokul Village from the anger of Lord Indra. According to the famous legend, the people of Gokul used to worship Lord Indra for good monsoon season. But Lord Krishna told them to not to worship Lord Indra, as it were mountains which bring rains for them. On Lord Krishna's advice people stopped offering prayers to Lord Indra. This made Lord Indra very angry and in retaliation He flooded the entire village. Then Lord Krishna lifted the Mt Govardhan to protect the farmers and their cattle. Thus Govardhan Puja is celebrated to worship Lord Krishna as the supreme power and to seek his blessings for prosperity and well-being. On this day devotees prepare cow dung hillocks (that replicates Mt Govardhan) and decorate them with flowers and then offer them prayers and special offerings.
Padwa or Bali Pratipada
In western state of India, Maharastra, the fourth day of Diwali celebrations is known and marked as Padwa or Bali Pratipada. As per the mythological legend on this particular day King Bali is allowed to return to the earth once in the year, as per the boon given to him by Lord Vishnu. So Bali Pratipada also known as Bali Padyami is celebrated to welcome the King Bali. The same day of Padwa is also marked as new year as the Vikram Samvat was started on this day.
The fourth day of Diwali festival celebrations is also celebrated as Gudi Padwa in which wife prays for the well being of her husband and in return he presents gifts to her. The Gudi Padwa festival holds a significant place in the Hindu families. On this day wife puts tikka on his forehead and performs special pooja ceremony to seek blessings of God for him. Gudi Padva festival marks the expression of devotion, care and affection by a wife to her husband. On this day people invites their newly wedded daughters and son-in-laws and offer them special dishes and gifts.
The two days after Diwali festival is also observed as Annakoot that stands for the mountain of food. On this day devotees hold special pooja ceremonies during the night, make special bhog (special dishes offering to Lord Krishna) comprising of fifty six or one hundred and eight variety of food items. The idol of Gods and Goddesses are given milk bath, adorned with new attire and shimmering jewelry items and then traditional prayer ceremonies are held to seek the blessings of almighty.
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