Despite being given commercial connotations all over the world, Diwali (or Deepavali) retains its traditional, moral, social and religious values. In millions of Hindu homes, the day features Pooja, special dedication to ancestors, family reunion, festive food, new clothes (and jewellery) and fireworks.
Diwali is usually a five-day Festival, beginning on Amavasya (New Moon), considered auspicious by Hindus. Although related largely to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, it is customary to worship Lord Ganesha as the Premier Deity, and Saraswathi, the Goddess of Knowledge.
This Divine Trinity is therefore seen in most homes as Deities and on the cover of most Diwali Specials of newspapers and periodicals. Indian Newslink is no exception.
Lord Ganesha, the one tusked, potbellied Hindu Deity, starts all things auspicious in Hindu homes. He is worshipped for wisdom, prosperity and luck that He bestows on His devotees. Hindus believe the Elephant-Headed God, known as the ‘Remover of Obstacles’ and ‘God of Power and Wisdom,’ is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Every religious festival, be it a simple prayer at home or a grand yagna at a temple, begins with a submission to Lord Ganesh.
Invoking the blessings of Goddess Saraswathi, known to be associated with knowledge, music and arts on Diwali Day is another custom in Hindu homes and Temples.
The general belief is that appeasing Goddess Saraswathi is highly beneficial in countering Planet Mercury for removing problems in education and career.
Ganesha is frequently depicted with Saraswati and Lakshmi.
The Deities are worshipped together because they represent similar goals.
The Goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity is the Wife and Shakti (Energy) of Vishnu, one of Trinities and the Supreme Being in Vaishnavism Tradition.
With Parvathi and Saraswathi and Lakshmi forms Tridevi, the Holy Trinity.
Lakshmi is also an important Deity in Jainism found in Jain Temples.
She is Goddess of Abundance for Buddhists and represented on the oldest surviving stupas and cave temples of Buddhism.
Lakshmi is also called Sri or Thirumagal because She is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities, or Gunas, and is the divine strength of Vishnu.
In Hindu religion, She was born from the churning of the primordial ocean (Samudra Manthan) and She chose Vishnu as Her eternal consort.
When Vishnu descended on the Earth as the Avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi descended as His respective consort as Sita and Radha, Rukmini.
In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi.
She typically stands or sits like a Yogin on a Lotus pedestal and holds Lotus in Her hand, a symbolism for fortune, self-knowledge and spiritual liberation.
Her iconography shows Her with four hands, which represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life: Dharma, Kama, Artha and Moksha.
Diwali and Sharad Purnima (Kojagiri Purnima) Festivals are celebrated in Her Honour.
Lakshmi is mentioned once in Rigveda, where She is a sign of auspicious fortune.
In Atharva Veda, transcribed about 1000 BCE, Lakshmi evolves into a complex concept with plural manifestations. This Veda describes the plurality, asserting that a hundred Lakshmis are born with the body of a mortal at birth, some good, punya (virtuous) and auspicious, while others bad, paapi (evil) and unfortunate.
The good are welcomed, while the bad urged to leave.
In the Epics of Hinduism, such as in Mahabharata, Lakshmi personifies wealth, riches, happiness, loveliness, grace, charm and splendour.
In another Hindu legend, about the creation of the universe as described in Ramayana, Lakshmi springs with other precious things from the foam of the ocean of milk when it is churned by the Gods and demons for the recovery of Amrita. She appeared with a Lotus in Her hand and so She is also called Padma.
Root of the word
Lakshmi in Sanskrit is derived from the root word lakṣh and lakṣha, meaning to perceive, observe, know, understand and goal, aim, objective respectively.
These roots give Lakshmi the symbolism: know and understand your goal.
A related term is lakṣhaṇa, which means sign, target, aim, symbol, attribute, quality, lucky mark, auspicious opportunity.
Diwali is always associated with Lakshmi, Ganesha and Saraswathi