Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit fusion word ‘Dipavali’,formed from Dipa or lamp and Avali or row .Dipavali is thus meant a ‘row’ or ‘series of lights’ .Diwali (English) is variously spelled in diverse languages in India – ‘Deepabali’ as in Oriya,’Deepaboli’ as in Bengali,’Deepavali’ as in Assamese,Kannada,Malayalam,Tamil and ‘Divali’ as in Gujarati,Hindi,Marathi,Punjabi and ‘Diyari’ as in Sindhi.
The festival typically extends over a five day period starting from Dhanteras – this day marks the birthday of Lakshmi – the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity,and the birthday of Dhanvantari – the Goddess of Health and Healing.On the night of Dhanteras,diyas or lamps are ritually kept burning all throughout the night in honor of Lakshmi and Dhanvantari.
Naraka Chaturdasi is also called choti diwali which is on the second day.
Diwali on the third day ,diyas are lit,pujas are offered to Lakshmi Ganesha ,and to one or more additional deities.After the puja,people go outside and celebrate by lighting up patakhe/fireworks .After fireworks ,people head back to a family feast ,conversations and cards playing.Diwali also marks the beginning of the New Year ,in some parts of India.
Diwali Padva – is day of meeting one’s relatives.On this day,youngsters visit the house of their elders and seek their blessings.In many regions,newly married daughters with their husbands are invited for special meals.Sometimes brothers go and pick their sisters from in- laws house for this important day.
The festivities end with Bhau -beej on the fifth day- The last day of the festival is called as Bhai Dooj.It celebrates the sister – brother loving relationship,in a spirit similar to Raksha Bandhan but different rituals.
The day of Diwali festival marks the beginning of the new Year for the Marwari community.The Gujarati community celebrate the day after the festival of Diwali as the beginning of the New Year.