The Five Days of Diwali
Day 1King Hima's daughter-in-law was worried. Her young husband was destined to die of a snake bite on the fourth night after their wedding. Determined to save him, she thought of a plan. First, she piled gold ornaments on the threshold and lit lots of lamps. Then she sat by the prince telling him stories. That night when Yama came in the form of a serpent, he was dazzled by the light and the gold. He coiled himself on top of the gold and sat enthralled by the princess’s stories. At daybreak, he quietly slithered away without harming the prince.
Day 2This day celebrates the slaying of the demon Naraakasura by Krishna. Valmiki mentions him in the Ramayana as well, when Sugriva instructs his vanara army to search for Sita in Pragjotishpura, where Naraka lives. Narakasura was given the Narayanastra by Vishnu, with the boon that no one but Vishnu himself would ever be able to kill him.
Day 3This marks the day when Rama, Sita, and Laxmana returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana and completing their 14 years of exile. The people of the kingdom cleaned their houses and lit hundreds of lamps to welcome their king. It is also believed that Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune and wealth, visits the houses of her devotees on this day to bestow her blessings on them. However, it is believed she only visits those who are disciplined and have tidy homes. This is why even today, people dust and clean their houses for Diwali
Day 4This day commemorates the incident when Krishna lifted the Govardhan mountain on his little finger providing shelter to the villagers from Indra’s rage. Ultimately, Krishna managed to convince his people to pray to the elements of nature rather than the proud devas, humbling Indra in the process as well. It is an important festival for the Vaishnava sect.
Day 5Legends attribute this day’s celebrations to a meeting between the god of death and his sister. It is said when Yama went to visit his sister Yami (or Yamuna), she welcomed him with an aarti, applied a tilak on his forehead and gave him sweets. Yama was very pleased with this reception and gave her a gift as well, after which he declared that any brother who is greeted by his sister in this manner would have no reason to fear death. Because of this, this day is called 'Yama Dwitiya' as well.