The southwest monsoon remains active in India from June to September and provides about 80% of the total annual rainfall of the country in different geographical regions. Deepavali (also known as Diwali) – the festival of lights, comes in the autumn which lies between the rainy season and the winter season.
The occasion of Deepavali is utilized for thorough cleaning of the residential houses, business establishments, shops of all types and the general surroundings. Houses are whitewashed, painted and get new fixtures. Doors and windows get a fresh coat of paint. The general endeavor is to remove the dampness and staleness accumulated over the four-months-long rainy season.
The “Kharif crops” (rainy season crops) remain under various stages of maturity. Flowering of rice becomes almost complete and the farmers of India welcome the festival of lights with a sense of hopefulness and expectation. The festival is celebrated on the day of “Kartika Krishna Paksha Amavashya” (The day of New Moon). This coincides with the English calendar in October-November.
Significance for households and business community:
In every Hindu household, this festival is celebrated with complete devotion in a clean and decorated surrounding. The idols of “Lakshmi” (Goddess of wealth) and “Ganesha” (God who terminates obstacles) are worshipped in combination. Lakshmi is worshipped for wealth and happiness and Ganesha is worshiped for keeping the family free from obstacles and evils throughout the year. This puja is sometimes extended and organized as “Lakshmi Panchayatan puja” which includes Lord Vishnu, Indra Dev, Shri Kuber, Shri Gajendra and Goddess Lakshmi.
The festival is highly significant for the business community. Every business establishment and every shop owned by Hindus, arranges for the worship of Lakshmi and Ganesha in a fully clean environment and amidst display of lights and fireworks. Shops are re-furnished and re-stacked. The day is a new year’s day for businessmen because old account books are closed one day prior to Deepavali and new account books are opened by every shopkeeper on the Deepavali day. The new account books are inaugurated with the drawing of “Swastika” and inscribing “Shubh” (auspicious) and “Labh” (gain) on the books.
The Deepavali day is also significant for the Bombay stock exchange which is the nerve center for stock market trading. Lakshmi puja is organized on a grand scale in the stock exchange and a token “Muhurat trading” is done for a brief period in the evening hours only on Deepavali day. The stock traders consider it auspicious to start trading during the “Muhurat trading” session.
Mythological relationship of the festival:
Two Mythological reasons are cited for celebration of Deepavali festival on the Kartika Amavashya day.
a) The first legend leads us to the “Treta Yug” when “Rama Avatar” took place. Ram was exiled for 14 years. Sita (his wife) was abducted by the demon king Ravana during the period of exile. Ravana was ultimately killed in the battle in Lanka and Rama returned home with Sita in the 15th year after the end of the period of exile. The people of Ayodhya celebrated his home coming by lighting thousands of lamps. The people commemorate the return of Rama to Ayodhya by celebrating Deepavali festival.
b) The second story relates to the “Dwapar Yug” when “Krishna Avatar” took place. The legend tells us that Narakasur was creating troubles for the common people, the Rishis, Saints and Demigods. He was a powerful demon. Lord Krishna planned his killing through his wife Satyabhama and the demon was killed on the “Chaturdasi day” which comes one day prior to the Deepavali day. Therefore the “Kartik Chaturdasi” is also known as “Narak Chaturdashi”. The festival of lights is celebrated on the subsequent day of “Kartik” on “Amavashya Tithi” to commemorate the killing of Narakasur.