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Lakshmi Puja in India

The third day of the festival of Diwali falls on the dark night of amavasya. It is the most important day of Lakshmi Pooja. It is entirely devoted in the honor of goddess Lakshmi. It is believed that on this day Lakshmi walks through the green fields and loiters through the bye-lanes and showers her blessings on man for health and prosperity. Ceremonial worship is done for goddess Lakshmi in the evening. After the pooja all the home-made sweets are offered to the goddess. Feasts are arranged and gifts are exchanged on this day. Well dressed men, women and children go to temples and fairs, visit friends and relatives. Everything is gay, gold and glitter!

The strains of joyous sounds of bells and drums float from the temples as man is invoking goddess Lakshmi. A sublime light of knowledge dawns upon humanity and devotion of man finally conquers ignorance. This self enlightenment is expressed through the twinkling lamps that illuminate the palaces of the wealthy as well as the lowly abodes of the poor.

This day is also known by the name of "CHOPADA-PUJA". On this very day sun enters his second course and passes Libra which is represented by the balance or scale. Hence, this design of Libra is believed to have suggested the balancing of account books and their closing. Despite the fact that this day falls on an amavasya day it is regarded as the most auspicious day.

One of the most curious customs which characterises this festival of Diwali is the indulgence of gambling, specially in North India. It is believed that goddess Parvati played dice with her husband, Lord Shiv on this day and she said that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper in the coming year. This tradition of playing cards i.e. flush and rummy with stakes on this particular day continues even today.

One of the very interesting story about Diwali is from Kathopanishad about a small boy called Nichiketa who believed that Yam, the god of death was as black as the dark night of amavasya. But when he met Yam in person he was puzzled seeing Yam's calm countenance and dignified stature. Yam explained to Nichiketa on this day of amavasya that by only passing through the darkness of death, man sees the light of highest wisdom and it is only then his soul can escape from the bondage of his mortal frame to mingle with the Supreme Power without whose will not a leaf can move in the world. After that he realises the importance of worldly life and significance of death. Nichiketa's all doubts were set at rest and he whole-heartedly participated in Diwali celebrations.

On this auspicious day Lord Shri Krishna discarded his body, around whom revolves the entire story of the great epic Mahabharata and the philosopher, who preached Karmayog through Geeta to Arjun on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

Bhagwan Mahavir, the Jain prophet attained "Nirvana" on this day.

Swami Ramtirth, the beloved "Ram Badshah" of millions of Indians was born on this day and took "Sanyas" and "Samadhi" on this day.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati, founder of Arya Samaj in 1875 in Mumbai, with his great yogic powers separated his soul from his body and mingled with divinity on this auspicious day of Diwali.

Letís kindle innumerable lights on this day to immortalise the sacred memories of those great men who lived to brighten the lives of millions of their fellow beings.