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  Vaishnavism springs from the worship of the god Vishnu. In the Rig-Veda he is only a minor god, but already he is striding across worlds. Worship of Vishnu was greatly expanded when he was associated with a series of avatars: ‘For the promotion of the good and the destruction of evildoers, and for the re-establishment of dharma I come into being in successive ages.’ These incarnations are generally held to be fish, boar, man-lion, dwarf, Parasu-Rama (who terminated the Kshatriya class), Rama (the hero of the Ramayana), Krishna and Buddha. Finally, he will appear as Kalki, to inaugurate a new age.

Vaishnavism also involves worship of Lakshmi, Vishnu\'s popular consort, the goddess of good fortune whose festival Divali (or Deepavali) is a feast of lights joyously celebrated by all Hindus. EMJ



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