The word Diwali is the abstraction of the Sanskrit word Deepavali - Deepen meaning light and Avali, meaning a row. On the Hindu calendar, Diwali is celebrated for the five days from the 13th day of the dark half of the lunar month Ashvina to the second day of the light half of Karttika. On the English calendar, Dipawali falls in the months of October or November, and always on a new moon day. Diwali is celebrated with a variety of rituals, which depend in large part on one's location, but they center on the lighting of candles, electric lights and fireworks.
Diwali or more aptly Deepawali is very enthusiastically celebrated for five continuous days and each day has its significance with a number of myths, legends and beliefs. The First day is called Dhanteras which falls on the thirteenth day of the month of Aasho. The word Dhan means wealth. Believing this day to be auspicious, women purchase some gold or silver or at least one or two new utensils. The Second day is called Narkachaturdashi or Choti Diwali which falls on the fourteenth day of the month of Aasho. This day therefore is dedicated to lights and prayers heralding a future full of joy and laughter. The Third day of the festival of Diwali is the most important day of Lakshmi-Puja which is entirely devoted to the propitiation of Goddess Lakshmi. On this very day sun enters his second course and passes Libra which is represented by the balance or scale. Hence, this design of Libra is believed to have suggested the balancing of account books and their closing. Despite the fact that this day falls on an amavasya day it is regarded as the most auspicious. The fourth day is padwa. Govardhan-Puja is also performed in the North on this day. The Fifth and final day of Diwali Festival is known by the name of Bhayya-Duj. As the legend goes Yamraj, the God of Death visited his sister Yami on this particular day. She put the auspicious tilak on his forehead, garlanded him and fed him with special dishes and while parting Yamraj gave her a special gift as a token of his love. That day Yamraj announced that anyone who receives tilak from his sister will never be thrown. Since then, this day is being observed as a symbol of love between sisters and brothers.
Rituals and Legends of Diwali
The ?row of lights? for which the festival is named are lit on the new-moon night to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. But in Bengal, it is the goddess Kali who is so honored, and in North India the festival also celebrates the return of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman to the city of Ayodhya, where Rama's rule of righteousness was inaugurated.