Deepavali or the Festival of Lights is an important and popular festival celebrated throughout the country. In North India it is celebrated five day long. Deepavali is associated with many legends. One is that, on that day Lord Rama returned triumphant to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. The second legend goes thus. Narakasura, a monster, ruled the kingdom of Pradyoshapuram. He was a trouble-maker to the gods and the pious sages and would disturb their penance or create havoc during the rituals. To prove his power, Narakasura usurped some territory of Aditi, (the king of Suraloka and a relative of Satyabhama, Lord Krishna's wife). Vexed with this harassment, Indra and other gods approached Lord Krishna and pleaded with him to protect them from the demon Narakasura. Satyabhama appealed to Krishna to give her the golden chance to destroy Narakasura, as Narakasura was given a curse that he would be killed by a woman. Krishna granted her a boon to fight with Narakasura. With Krishna as the charioteer, Satyabhama entered the battle field and killed the demon, Narakasura. The killing of Narakasura was a victory of good over evil. It is interesting to note that Bhudevi, mother of the slain Narakasura, declared that his death should not be a day of mourning but an occasion to celebrate and rejoice. Since then, Deepavali is being observed by people every year with joyous celebrations and lot of fun and frolic, and fire works. The third myth says that on this auspicious day, Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and good fortune visits the houses of people. In the evening Lakshmi Puja is performed with great devotion. The making of various sweets is the order of the day. Homes are decorated, sweets are distributed and lamps are lit, giving a magical and radiant touch. There is an atmosphere of joy and festivity. Normally according to dharma shastram, one is not supposed to take an oil bath before sunrise on any day. But on Deepavali, there is an exemption. People get up early in the morning and have an oil bath in hot water specially before sunrise. This is equated to having a bath in the Ganges. Thailae lakshmeeh jalae gangaa deepaavaLyaas(h) chathurdas(h)eem On Deepavali chathurdashi day, Mahalakshmi resides in gingelly oil and Ganges resides in water until sunrise. So we get the blessings of Mahalakshmi as well by doing this. The traditional exchange of Gretings in South India is “ Ganga snanam acha?” Sweets are exchanged with best wishes. Deepavali is a time for fun and revelry as well as pooja and tradition. The lighting of lamps is a way of paying obeisance to God for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valour and fame. Fireworks are brought out and the children enjoy the fun and frolic. Hundreds of fire crackers can be seen glowing and then bursting as though it was a battle of glows and sparks in the skies. Thus there is universal enjoyment. And all this illumination and fireworks, joy and festivity, is to signify the victory of divine forces over those of wickedness. Thus this great festival of light symbolises man’s urge to move towards light of truth from darkness of ignorance and happiness. Love & regards, Chithra. For deepavali, in Benares (Kasi), Goddess Annapurani is adorned with gold kavacham and carried in a chariot made of laddus. The photo of Annapurani, glittering in gold is poted below. My affectionate Deepavali Greetings to all I L ites.