Though we often recognize Diwali as a festival of lights, crackers and sweets, the most important part of the entire festival is the Diwali Poojan. As we consider Diwali as an auspicious festival which is said to bring prosperity, wealth and wisdom in home, we pray to the Goddess of wealth, Laxmi and the God of Wisdom, Ganesha for showering their blessings upon us. It is believed that on the eve of Diwali Goddess Laxmi visits everyone and brings peace and prosperity to those homes where she feels happy and pleased. That is why a traditional Diwali Pooja is performed after sunset in all the homes on the day of Diwali.
Traditional Deepavali Pooja
Diwali Pooja is performed in different families in a different way depending upon their regional and cultural customs. In villages, even the cattle are adorned and worshipped by farmers on this occasion as they regard them as their main source of their income. In south India also, cows are offered special veneration this day as they are supposed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. However, in most of the families the Pooja is done in a simple way by installing the idols of Goddess Laxmi and Lord Ganesha on the eve of Diwali.
The Pooja begins by the gathering of the entire family in the Pooja room and installation of the new idols of the deities in the small mandir at home. The senior most member of the family along with the priest of the family performs all the ritual. The ritual begins with the purification ceremony, each of the deities is bathed first with water, then with panchamitra (a mixture of milk, curd, ghee sugar & honey) and then with water again, this is actually a process of the purification of the idols before deities are invoked into it. After this, five pieces of ghee diyas are lit in front of the deities in order to drive away the shadows of evil spirits. The pooja thali containing all kids of prasads are then placed infront of the deities.
All the members of the family are then asked to close their eyes and chant the mantras as recited by the priest. Even if they do not know the mantra they can simply close their eyes and remember the deities with full devotion. It is said that if you remember the God by true heart, they certainly come to your place to bless you. Once the mantras are over, all the members of the family offer auspicious items like abir (red colour), sindoor (vermillion) and haldi (turmeric), flower and sweet dishes to the deities. They also light incense sticks and diyas infront of the deities and seek their blessings. People also offer silver or gold coins, nariyal and jewelries to the deities.
Once the offering and individual Pooja is over, people do arti and sing bhajans for welcoming the god in to their home and thanking them for being kind to their family till now. Ganesh Aarti is followed by Lakshmi Aarti. The aarti thali is then taken in each room of the home to purify the entire home. After the aarti is over, the priest of the family is presented with gifts and the process of lighting diyas in the entire home begins. After the lighting is done, people take the 'prasad' and burst crackers.