Diwali, one of the most important Hindu festivals is tomorrow.
Diwali is a name which has evolved over the years from the original 'Deepawali', meaning Festival of Light. This day celebrates the return of Lord Rama, along with his wife Sita, younger brother Lakshman, post his 14 year long exile to his homeland Ayodhya, after vanquishing the demon king Ravan of Lanka. Because the day of return was no no-moon night, the residents of Ayodhya lighted the entire kingdom to welcome back them back. Since then, Diwali is celebrated across India. The day is marked by decorating the home and eating sweets in the day, and lightening lamps during night. Through the years, fire crackers have made their way into the celebrations too.
While Diwali is now known to one and all, there are other Hindu festivals which surround Diwali, which are not as popular across the world.
- Dussera Marks the beginning of festivities, and was the day when Lord Rama killed Ravana, thus marking the end of his exile, and acquiring Sita ji back. This day is marked as a win of the good over the evil, and even today, the win is repeated in every nick and corner with mannequins of Ravan being burnt. The day is celebrated by eating motichur laddus, and jalebis.
- Karvachauth The most difficult fast in the Hindu tradition is observed by married women to pray for her husband's long life and well being. The fast is observed without food and water, that can be had only after witnessing the moon after it rises in the sky.
- Hoi Ashtami Similar in some ways to Karvachauth, Hoi Ashtami is observed by mothers for the long life of their sons. The fast is observed without food, though water and fruits are permissible. Food is had when the first star becomes visible in the sky.
- Dhan Teras Celebrated two days before Deepawali, it is the day when buying metal (gold, silver, utensils et al) is considered very auspicious, as this is the day when during churning of the ocean by Gods and Demons, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu appeared with a jar of elixir in hand.
- Govardhan Lord Krishna, defeated Indra (the Lord of Rains), and protecting Vrindawan from fierce rainfall, by lifting the mountain called Govardhan. Since then, this day is celebrated by praying to Lord Krishna, and eating his favorite food, 'ankut' consisting of yogurt curry, and egg plant veggies.
- Bhai Dooj Observed the second day post Diwali, this fast is marked by sisters praying for their brother's long life and safety. The brother too showers his sister with love, blessings and gifts.