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Diwali the Hindu festival of lights was brought to Trinidad and Tobago by Hindus who came to these parts as indentured labourers in the year 1845.
This is the largest Hindu festival in Trinidad.It is celebrated with the performance of Lakshme Pooja(worship unto the Goddess of light,wealth,and prosperity) and at night time, thousands of earthen lamps called Deeyas are lit to dispell darkness.
Darkness here includes both physical and mental darkness in the form of ignorance.
In the early days of this celebration, the Hindus celebrated this festival in a very small way.They made a minimum of 5 deeyas per household and by filling it with oil or Ghee (clarified butter) a wick made of wool was placed in`it. This wick was lighted on fire and the result was a beautiful little lamp. They would of course invite the Pandit(Hindu priest) to their homes and they would perform Lakshme Pooja.
With the passing of time and representations from prominent Hindu representatives, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago granted a National Holiday for this celebration.
At present, Diwali is celebrated in an extremely grand style with each household lighting dozens of deeyas (lamps made of clay) an it is not uncommon to see public celebrations at least a week before the actually designated day.Temples throughout the island as well as other community groups celebrate Diwali in a very festive manner.
The making of deeyas is now a spin-off industry in Trinidad and contributes to the colossal of this the largest of all Hindu festivals.

The 5 days of Diwali.....


Diwali the festival of lights is observed in the month of Kartik(October-November) on the night of the New Moon.This night happens to be the darkest night of the year.This festival of Diwali is a 5 day celebration with Diwali day being the most important of the five days.Weeks before these five days, Hindus observe fasting, they clean themselves, their homes and its surroundings in preparation for Lakshme Pooja(worshiping of the Goddess of light, wealth and prosperity).

The first day of Diwali.....

The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari Triodasi also called Dhan Theras.It is in fact the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksh (the dark forthnight) of the month of Kartik. On this day, Lord Dhanwantari came out of the ocean with Ayurvedic medicine (medicine which promotes healthy long life) for mankind.
This day marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations. On this day at sunset,Hindus should bathe and offer a lighted deeya with Prasad (sweets offered at worship time) to Yama Raj (the Lord of Death) and pray for protection from untimely death.
This offering should be made near a Tulsie tree(the Holy Basil) or any other sacred tree that one might have in their yard. If there is no sacred tree, a clean place in the front yard will suffice.
On this day,Pandits, Sadhoos,and Hindus in general, perform Hawan(a fire ritual) and Jap(the chanting of special Mantras or prayers) for good health and strenght during the forthcoming year.

The second day of Diwali.....

The second day of Diwali is called Narak Chaturdasi. It is the fourteenth lunar day (thithi) of the dark forthnight of the month of Kartik and the eve of Diwali. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear. On this day, we should massage our bodies with oil to relieve it of tiredness, bathe and rest so that we can celebrate Diwali with vigour and devotion.
On this night, Yama Deeya should NOT be lit. The Shastras(Laws of Dharma) declares that Yama Deeya should be offered on Triodasi night with Prasad.
The misconception that Yama Deeya should be offered on the night before Diwali came about some years ago when the fourteenth lunar day (Chaturdasi) was of a very short duration and caused Triodasi to extend into the night before Diwali. Some people mistook it to mean that because Yama Deeya was lit on that night, that it should always be lit on the night before Diwali.
This is absolutely not true.It is advisable that one consults with a learned Pandit or Hindu Astrologer for proper guidance on this matter.


The third day of Diwali,
Diwali itself.....

This is the day when worship unto Mother Lakshme is performed throughout Trinidad.The day of anticipation has finally arrived.Hindus cleanse themselves and join with their families and their Pandit (priest) and they worship the divine Goddess Lakshme to achieve the blessings of wealth and prosperity, the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
This phenomenon of good over evil has attracted peoples from the many races in Trinidad and they all join with the Hindu community in celebrating Diwali,the festival of lights.


The origins of Diwali.....

The celebration was first started in India by farmers after they reaped their harvests. They celebrated with joy and offered praises to God for granting them a good crop.

During the reign of Emperor Prithu, there was a worldwide famine.He ordered that all available cultivatable lands be ploughed.When the rains came, the land became very fertile and grains were planted.The harvest provided food not only to feed all of India, but for all civilisation.This harvest was close to Diwali time and was a good reason to celebrate Diwali with great joy and merriment by a wider community.

Diwali celebrated after the return of Lord Rama from exile was universal in nature.It is said that Lord Rama returned home on Diwali night after fourteen years of exile in the forest.The city of Ayodhya appeared to be a garden of light during that night as everyone went out to meet and greet Him in the traditionally ceremonial manner.As the inhabitants came out of their homes with their lighted deeyas to greet Lord Rama,it created a spectacle with rows of lights as far as the eyes could see.This gave birth to the word Deepawali,meaning rows of lights.(Deepawali is the combination of two Sanskrit words. Deep meaning light and Awali meaning rows. When they merge we get one word Deepawali meaning rows of lights.)It was from then on that the words Diwali and Deepawali became synonymous.
This aspect of Diwali is the most common and acceptable account with regards to the origins of Diwali.

When Lord Krishna destroyed Narakasur on the day before Diwali, the news of it travelled very rapidly throught the land.It gave people who were already in a joyful mood, another reason for celebrating Diwali with greater pride and elaboration.

In the Adi Parva of the Mahabarat(one of the great Hindu epics), the Pandavas(a class of noble men) returned from the forest during Diwali time.Once more, the celebrations extended beyond the boundaries of India to wherever Hindus lived.
All of these reasons contribute to the universal celebration of Diwali as it is today, be it in India, Trinidad or any other country where Hindus reside.

And above all.....

On this day Mother Lakshme emerged from the ocean of milk called the Ksheer Sagar. She brought with Her wealth and prosperity for mankind.On that day, Lakshme Pooja was performed to honour Her and as such, every year on Diwali day, Hindus perform Her prayer and worship.In Trinidad, on Diwali day, Hindus invite the Pandit (a Hindu priest) to their home and they perform Lakshme Pooja in grand style.The making and distribution of various sweets and total vegetarian foods are the order of the day.They give charity to the poor and gifts to the Brahmins (the priestly class of people).This practice is alive and well to this very day.

. The fourth day of Diwali.....

On this day, Goverdhan Pooja is performed.Many thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna caused the people of Vraja to perform Goverdhan Pooja.From then on, every year Hindus worship Goverdhan to honour that first Pooja done by the people of Vraja.
It is written in the Ramayan(a text recording the exploits of Lord Rama), that when the bridge was being built by the Vanar army,Hanuman (a divine loyal servant of Lord Rama possesing enormous strength) was bringing a mountain as material to help with the construction of the bridge. The call was given that enough materials was already obtained.Hanuman placed the mountain down before He could have reached the construction site.Due to lack of time,He could not have returned the mountain to its original place.
The diety presiding over this mountain spoke to Hanuman asking of His reason for leaving the mountain there.Hanuman replied that the mountain should remain there until the age of Dwapar when Shree Rama (Lord Rama) incarnates as Lord Krishna in the form of man. He, Lord Krishna will shower His grace on the mountain and will instruct that the mountain be worshiped not only in that age but but in ages to come.This diety whom Hanuman spoke to was none other than Goverdhan (an incarnation of Lord Krishna),who manifested Himself in the form of the mountain.
To fulfill this decree, Goverdhan Pooja was performed and is continued to be performed today.

The fifth day of Diwali.....

The second day of the bright forthnight (Shukla Paksh) of Kartik is called Bhratri Dooj. This is the day after Goverdhan Pooja is performed and normally two days after Diwali day.
It is a day dedicated to sisters. We have heard about Raksha Bandhan (brothers day). Well this is sisters day.
Many moons ago,in the Vedic era,Yama(Yamraj, the Lord of death) visited His sister Yamuna on this day.He gave his sister a Vardhan(a boon) that whosoever visits her on this day shall be liberated from all sins. They will achieve Moksha or final emancipation.
From then on, brothers visit their sisters on this day to enquire of their welfare.
This day marks the end of the five days of Diwali celebrations.


Note!

Contrary to the belief of some people, Diwali is NOT the start of the Hindu year.It is not the new years' day in the Hindu calendar.
It is a time for reawakenings. Mantras are reawakened on Diwali day,certain Yantras (incantations) are made and also reawakened on this day.However, despite the many auspicious things that can be done on this day, the principles of the Shastras (laws of Dharma) should be observed at all times.



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