Diwali is the festival of lights with fun, food and frolic thrown in for good measure. The festive season of October-November is one of the most anticipated times for all Hindus as Diwali is one of the grandest festivals in the world. While celebrating the triumph of Good vs Evil, the festival also augurs happiness and prosperity for everyone who celebrates it.
The Festival of Lights:
Diwali is a period of sharing and caring. While filling the house with beautifully lit lamps, the brightness will automatically rejuvenate the mind. It also kindles the spirit of celebration. people wear new dresses, prepare sweets and savories and partake of feasts on this occasion. Diwali is a celebration of prosperity too. People celebrate Lakshmi Pooja to invoke Goddess Lakshmi’s blessings and invite her divine grace into the lives.
Preparation for Lakshmi Pooja:
The preparations for the Lakshmi Pooja starts with preparing the Kalash, a decorated pot with coconut and mango leaves, on which Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi are placed. It is considered very auspicious and believed to bring favorable and positive results in the household.
The next step of preparation is making a “Pooja ki Thali', where raw rice is mixed with turmeric. Many people decorate the thali with Kolam, or rangoli and place the idol of the Goddess on it.
Preparing the Havan is an important part, as the Fire God or Agni has the power to communicate to the Lord directly and submit the offerings made by the devotees. Once everything is set for the Havan, the idols of Lord Ganesha and Laksmi are placed strategically.
Decorating the Idols:
The Idols of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi are kept after smearing tilak or vermilion on the forehead. New cloth or Silk cloth is used to adorn the idol. Many people put gold jewelry on the idols. Garlands made of fresh flowers are also used to adorn the idols. Many people light incense sticks and use aromatic scents for good fragrance. Houses will be well-lit and the place where the idols are kept will be decorated with strands of flowers.
Offering for the Gods and Goddess:
An important ritual is the offering of food or prasadam, which includes sweets and savories which are offered to God. Fresh milk, fruits, and honey are also offered. New currency notes and coins are also kept before the idols.
How to perform Pooja:
People invite pundits or priests to perform Pooja at home. Many people would perform the pooja themselves by chanting Slokas, which invokes the blessings of the Lord. “Abhisheka”, or hydrating the idols is also an important part. Once the chant is complete, all the foodstuffs are offered to God as “Neivedhya”. “Aarthi” is an important step, either done by burning camphor, or a lamp of oil or Ghee which is circled clockwise. This marks the completion of the pooja and the food is distributed to the family members.
It is believed that by performing Lakshmi Pooja, the positivity of the house is enhanced. Deepavali time is a good period to rejoice along with the family and community. Sharing with others is also important, to spread the same positivity and happiness.