Deepavali / Luxmi Pooja (North & South)
English meaning of the festival
Deepavali means a row of lights. Since Deepavali is dedicated to the God of wealth, it is also referred to as Maha Luxmi Pooja.
How the date is decided annually
Deepavali is celebrated on the Amavasya (no moon) or fifteenth day in the dark phase of Karthik.
Significance of the festival to Hinduism
Historically, it is evident that thousands of years ago, Deepavali was observed as a harvest festival in the land called Bharath (modern-day India) when the civilisation was agricultural: Crops were harvested; there was abundant food in the home; good crops of cotton assured that there was clothing for the family for the full year. Life was bright and happy. Luxmi Mata had honoured the home with her presence. Moreover, the entire family celebrated the festival as a thanksgiving, performing Pooja with elaborate offerings and special rituals. The harvest was regarded as Prasad, the grace, compassion, and favour of the Divine Mother.
How to observe/practice
On Diwali or Deepavali day, one should begin by offering Surya Jal (water to the sun – generally on a tulsi tree). Thereafter offer prayer to Ganesh-Gauri (offer perfume/sandal paste dot, agarbati, aarthi, sweet dish/fruit, and water) and Shri Luxmi Narayan (offer perfume/sandal paste dot, agarbati, aarthi, sweet dish/fruit, and water). One may then perform Luxmi Pooja (offer perfume/sandal paste dot, agarbati, aarthi, sweet dish/fruit, and water). In many homes, this Luxmi Pooja is done in the evening. The prayer is followed by hawan. In the evening, one may perform Luxmi Pooja (if not done in the morning) and hawan. A diya (lamp) is lit in every room of the house. Diyas (lamps) are also lit outside the house.