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Diwali, the festival of lights, is a five-day-long festival. It starts with Dhanteras and is then followed by Naraka Chaturdasi, Lakshmi puja and Govardhan puja till it finally ends in Bhai Dooj. The third day of the Diwali festival is the most important day which is celebrated as Lakshmi puja. On that day, the goddess of wealth Lakshmi is worshipped to usher in good luck and prosperity.
Diwali has another significance too. It is believed that Diwali marks the celebration of Lord Rama's return to his kingdom Ayodhya after being exiled for 14 years. He defeated the demon king Ravana signifying the victory of good over evil. Rama's subjects in Ayodhya were so overjoyed with his return that they lit diyas to brighten up the night. That night was a no moon night and only Ayodhya's lit earthen lamps and diyas illuminated the sky.
Diwali also marks the slaying of many other demons like Narkasur by Lord Krishna and Bali by Lord Vamana.
Even though everything about Diwali is related to Lord Rama, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are worshipped in the evening. Diwali or Lakshmi puja is considered to be the new year's day in some parts of India, including Gujarat. Businessmen also perform 'Chopda Pujan' on this day by inaugurating their new books of accounts for the upcoming year. Initiating a business proposition or starting a new business venture on this day is considered to be auspicious. In West Bengal, Diwali night is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Kali, a form of Shakti.
What does Goddess Lakshmi look like?
Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, fortune, prosperity and beauty. She is depicted as a beautiful woman wearing a red saree and gold ornaments. She has four arms and wears a crown on her head. She is shown sitting on a lotus, floating on a body of water. In one of her hands, she holds a lotus and in the other, she holds a pot. The third-hand showers gold coins and the fourth hand is held in abhaya mudra. In some depictions, two of her hands hold lotuses - one half-opened and the other fully bloomed. Some other depictions of Lakshmi show her with two hands only.
Lakshmi is the consort of Lord Vishnu - the preserver of the universe. She is said to be restless and whimsical by nature. Her fickleness is a symbol of the fickleness of wealth and good fortune. These might come into a person's life with surprising suddenness and also leave without warning.
Why is Goddess Lakshmi worshipped on Diwali?
According to the Puranas, Lakshmi emerged from the water along with the nectar during the churning of the ocean or samudramanthan done by the Gods and the demons. She emerged along with Kuber, the God of wealth who is worshipped on Dhanteras, the first day of the five-day-long Diwali festival. In some parts of India, it is believed that Diwali marks the celebration of Goddess Lakshmi's wedding with Lord Vishnu. Other legends are of the opinion that Lakshmi was born on the day of Diwali.
What does Goddess Lakshmi symbolise?
Water is a symbol of love and Lakshmi is depicted as sitting on a lotus floating on water. Lotus is the symbol of detachment. A droplet of water moves freely on the lotus petals, which teaches detachment from wealth. Also, it is believed that this type of wealth is life-supporting and brings prosperity and abundance.
What are the other forms of Lakshmi?
Goddess Lakshmi is the bestower of wealth and good fortune. However, wealth is not always material wealth as people tend to believe. Traditionally Lakshmi is believed to have eight forms depicted as the ashta Lakshmi, each a bestower of a different kind of wealth. They are Adi Lakshmi, the goddess in her primordial form; Dhana Lakshmi or the goddess of wealth; Dhanya Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance in agriculture; Gaja Lakshmi, the giver of animal power and wealth; Santana Lakshmi, the bestower of parenthood; Veera Lakshmi, the symbol of courage to overcome obstacles; Vidya Lakshmi, the giver of the wealth of knowledge; and finally, Vijaya Lakshmi who signifies victory and success.
So this Diwali, sparkle with the diyas and worship goddess Lakshmi. Seek her blessings not just for material wealth but also for the wealth of peace, knowledge and moksha.