Gods & Goddess to be Worshipped
All pujas, rituals and celebrations in Hinduism begin with the worship of Lord Ganesh. During the Diwali too all pujas and rituals begin after the worship of Lord Ganesha.
The most popular reason for observing Diwali is the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after 14-year exile along with Mata Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman. Diyas are lit on the day in remembrance of the return of Lord Ram, Sita, Laxman and Hanuman to Ayodhya after defeating Ravan and completing the exile period.
Lord Krishna killed Demon Narakasura on this day and thus ensuring the victory of the good over evil. Another popular puja associated with Krishna is the Govardhan Puja - Lord Krishna lifting the mount Govardhan to rescue the people of Vrindavan from thunder and rains. Another ritual during the Diwali period associated with Lord Krishna is the Annkut.
Mahalakshmi puja is the most important ritual on Diwali day for majority of Hindu communities. The ritual of worshipping Goddess Lakshmi is performed in homes and by shopkeepers and business community. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped for wealth, prosperity, luck and prosperity. She is believed to have appeared on the Diwali day during the Churning of Ocean or samdura manthan.
Kali Puja is performed on the day in Bengal and eastern parts of India on Diwali day. Special murtis or idols of Goddess Kali are made and larg public pujas are performed on the day.
Lord Kuber is the Hindu God of wealth and Kubera is worshipped along with Goddess Lakshmi. He is propitiated on the day for wealth and prosperity.
Hanuman Puja is performed the day before Diwali celebrations in Gujarat. It is believed that Lord Hanuman appeared on this day by some Hindu communities in this region. Hanuman is worshipped for strength and security.
Lord Dhanvantri is the God of medicine and is worshipped by medical practitioners. He is believed to have appeared three-days before Diwali during the Samudra Manthan or Churning of the ocean carrying the Amrut or Elixer.
Worship of Ancestors
On the no moon day or Amavasi during Diwali, ancestors are offered homage in many regions. In Orissa there is a popular belief that the lights that are lit on Diwali are to show the path to the spirits of ancestors returning to heaven.
Cow is worshipped in certain parts western India three days before Diwali and this marks the beginning of Diwali festival in these regions. This is known as Vasubaras.
Lord Yama and Yami, sister of Lord Yama, are remembered on Bhai Dooj day. Bhaidooj is the last day of Diwali celebrations and is dedicated brother-sister relationship and it is based on a legend involving Lord Yama and Yami. Yamadeepdan is another ritual that is associated with Yama and is observed on the Dhanteras day.