A Diwali pooja is worship to the Deities of the Hindu Religion in the form
of prayer, offerings and sacrifices. The day of Diwali is important since it
signifies the worship and praise of devotees to the various deities; but
most importantly, it is a day of praise to Goddess Lakshmi
and by extension the divine mother of the entire universe and the earthly
(physical) mother. Most devout Hindus perform the Dipavali Pooja in a fixed,
ritualistic pattern, by celebrating in praise and offerings to Lord
Ganesh, Lord Shiva, The Nine Planets, Kalsa (representing the Universe) and
During the Dipavali Poojan, offerings are made to the fire (Agni devta),
which is viewed as the mouth of the Divine- it is the actual feeding of the
God. During Diwali Pooja, sixteen prescribed steps occur (symbolic of the
sixteen ceremonies to be completed in the life span of a Hindu) including
the welcoming of the Deity, giving the Deity a place to sit, the washing of
the feet, decorating the Deity, and the offering of food items, clothing or
money to seek blessings.
Fresh, sweet-scented flowers along with specific herbs and plants are used,
as well as Jhal/Phaag
(a combination of milk, ghee, honey
and spices). The planting of flags with significant colors associated with
the deities is used to symbolize the offerings. In addition, this particular
Pooja not only celebrates happiness with light, but with song, chanting,
tasting of food, ringing of bells, and the blowing of Conch shells as
blessings are bestowed among family members.
Tiny lamps of clay are lighted to drive away the shadows of evil spirits
is expressed. It is believed that
on this day Lakshmi visits each household and showers her blessings on man
for plenty and prosperity. Once the ceremonial worship is finished in the
evening, sweets are offered to the goddess as "Naivedya" and
distributed as "Prasad"
. Feasts are arranged and
gifts are exchanged on this day. Gaily dressed men, women and children go to
temples and fairs, visit friends and relatives.
One of the most curious customs, which characterizes this festival of
Dipavali, is the indulgence of gambling, especially on a large scale in
North India. It is believed that Goddess Parvati
dice with her husband, Lord Shiva
on this day and she
decreed that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the
ensuring year. This tradition of playing cards- flush and rummy with stakes
on this particular day continues even to day.