Essence of Srivaishnavam Practices
Deepavali or ( Diwali)
Deepavali or Deepawali, one of the festivals celebrated all over India is known as Diwali in North India and is celebrated for 3 full days. This festival has an inner meaning giving the divine light from the History known as Ithihas and is widely celebrated. I reproduce the article written by Dr. S. Kandala, especially for this website for the readers to understand the values and inner meaning of the Diwali Festival. The Dhan Trayodasi or Dhana Trayodashi is part of this three day celebrations. Normally this festival falls during Mid October – Mid November. In Tamil, the month is known as Aippasi and in Sanskrit the month in which Deepavali falls is known as “Ashwayuja” month. In this month, From the day of New Moon known as Amavasya the festivity begins. Read further to know the values of Indian customs and festivals.
BY Dr Satyavati S. Kandala
Deepavali is one of the most auspicious and celebrated festivals in Bharat (India ). It is a festival of lights. It occurs on the month of Ashwayuja , on the dark fortnight of Amavasai, every year. It symbolizes the vanquishing of ignorance , and the driving away of the evil and darkness that sometimes overshadows us. “Deepavali ” is a Sanskrit word , it is the conjunction of the words “Deepa” meaning light and “Aavali”, meaning arrays. It can be derived that Deepaavali is a festival consisting of an array of lights, and that indeed it is . Every home sparkles with the shining hues of deepas or lamps, in order to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Prosperity ). In most parts of Bharat Deepavali continues for five days , each day having its own significance in myth, belief, and legends.
The First Day is called “:Dhana trayodashi”, (or Dhanteras ) and it falls on the thirteenth (Trayodashi) day of Ashwayuja Month. The word “Dhana” means wealth, and indeed this day is of extreme importance to the merchant families and business communities ..Business premises are decorated and sometimes even renovated to prepare for the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi. Entrances are colored with the colorful motifs of Rangoli designs , and small foot prints are made with rice flour ,and Vermillion powder to signify the long awaited arrival of Goddess Lakshmi. Bhajans are sung in Her praise , and Naivedya , the offering of sweets to the goddess , is performed.
An interesting legend pertaining to Dhan trayodashi, is about the sixteen year old son of King Hima. The horoscopes predicted that he was doomed to die on the fourth night of his marriage to the venomous bite of a serpent . On that very fourth night, however, the son’s wife would not let him sleep. She piled golden ornaments, jewelry, silver and gold in a pile towards the entrance to his bedroom, and sang songs all night. Then, just as predicted , Yama, the Lord of Death, came in a separate form to take away the life of the young man as predicted.
But , after seeing all the light reflected by the jewelry and ornaments .Yama was blinded. So he climbed on top of all the ornaments and listened to the songs sung by the woman and left in the morning. Thus the young man was saved. Since this day, Dhana trayodashi ( Dhanteras) came to be known as the day of ” yama deepa daana” ,means lighting the lamps in order to pacify the Yama , the Lord of Death.
The Second Day is called Naraka – chaturdasi (the fourteenth day of Aswayuja Month. Legend goes that the demon king Naraka asura ,(Nara means Man , Asura means demon , “the demon in man” ) ruler of Pragjyothisha pura ,(prag means former, jyoti means light, sha means forgetting , puram means human body, where formerly forgot the Light within) had defeated Lord Indra and snatched away the precious earrings of Aditi, the Mother Goddess. He had also imprisoned sixteen thousand of the daughters of the saints and gods in his palace. On the day preceding Naraka – chaturdashi, Lord Sri Krishna killed the demon Naraka and freed all the captured damsels, along with the precious earrings of Aditi.
As a symbol of His victory Sri Krishna smeared the blood of his enemies on his forehead . Krishna arrived home early on the morning of Naraka – chaturdashi, and upon reaching there, the women folk massaged scent oils on his body, and gave hima good bath to wash away the filth from his body. Since that day , the custom of bathing early in the morning of Naraka – chaturdashi has been observed by many.
The Third Day of Deepavali (or Diwali ) is considered to be the most important, as it is upon this day that Lakshmi – Pooja is celebrated Despite the fact that this day falls on an Amavasya , or a time when there is no moon., it is taken as a most auspicious day. It is believed that on the day of Lakshmi Puja , the man kind is submerged in the blinding light of knowledge, and ignorance is finally conquered. This sense of self-enlightenment is represented through the twinkling lamps that every lights, the rich and the poor. alike.. On this day, Lakshmi showers Her blessings of prosperity on the heads of mankind. It is believed Goddess Lakshmi visits the Earth only on this day. When evening approaches , the chanting of Vedic hymns can be heard commonly ., and home made sweets are offered as Naivedya t (offering) to the Goddess. Gifts are exchanged.
A curious indulgence given at the time is that of gambling .This is due to the belief that the goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Paramesvara., and decreed that whoever would gamble on the day of Lakshmi Pooja would prosper throughout the year.
The Fourth Day of Deepavali is Varsha pratipada (the first day of the Kartika Month . It is observed by some as Anna koota, meaning heap of food, and Govardhana Pooja , remembering the incident Lord Krishna who protected the cattle by lifting the Govardhana mountain. Bhog (prasadam) is offered to the deities in the form of a mountain, and devotees then take their prasadam from this pile. Lakshmi is worshipped in every household, and this day is looked upon as being the most auspicious day to start any new venture.
Traditionally, the wives put a red tilak on the foreheads of their husbands, give garlands to them, and do aarati with a prayer for his long life. In return, husbands give their wives costly gifts.
The Fifth and Final Day of Deepavali falls on the second day of the Kartika Month . It is known by the name Bhratru – Dvitiya. (Bhaiya duj) In legend, Yama visited his sister Yami on this day and they had a merry time. This day signifies the love of siblings, and it became imperative that any brother visits his sister’s house on this day.
Kali Pooja Ritual in Bengal coincides with Deepavali. Ritual is a symbolic act which expresses a mystic relationship between man and deity. Ritual is a symbolic transformation of experience that no other medium can adequately express. The Kali Pooja is performed during the dark night of the new moon. . About three weeks after Durga Puja . The divine mother is worshipped in the form of Kali . Kali comes from the word “Kala ” or time. she is the power of time which devours all. The Mother Goddess took several forms to subdue the Demons. The Demon Rakta bija (symbolic of our passions and instincts . They are so deeply rooted in us that they often seem to be indestructible since one what is killed is replaced at once by another, and so on) possessed a special magical power which allowed him to create new demons from his own blood. Whenever the Goddess Kali wounded him, each drop of blood that spilled to the ground sprouted another demon full of strength and ferocity. But in the end the Mother outwitted him. She picked up Raktabija and lifted him high into the air to avoid spilling his blood on the ground, and then, gnashing him between her teeth, she drank his blood and swallowed the demon Rakta bija whole. Thus the Earth was protected from evil by the Mother Goddess Kali is celebrated.
Deepavali is celebrated to welcome the return of Sri Ram to Ayodhya after having spent 14 years in Exile. . Sri Ram’s coronation took place on this day after his victorious return to Ayodhya from Lanka vanquishing Ravana. welcoming Sri Ram by the lighting of lamps. On Deepavali day Lord Vishnu in his Vamana (Dwarf ) incarnation sent the Emperor Bali to the Nether world after he got the promise of three feet of ground from Bali. This is to put down the Ahamkara (Egoism ) of Bali.
The Sun appears on Mesha Sankranti .(The Sun entering the Aeries sign of the Zodiac )The Sun sets in the Polar region on Tula Sankranti day (when the Sun enters Libra) In the movement between these two signs there is an interval of Six months . After the Sun gets in Libra the dark half -year starts As we can see through this collection of facts, tradition, and custom, Deepavali is a time of great joy and prosperity, a time when the darkness of ignorance is lighted by the bright light of knowledge and Truth.
In conclusion, Deepavali festival bears out the profound spiritual truth, the whole array of lamps are lit by the light from one lamp .That one lamp symbolizes the Supreme Effulgent Lord (Eko Vishnu) the other symbolize the light in individual selves (Pruthak bhutah) . The One willed to become Many is exemplified by the lighting of the lamps by the flame of one.
TAMASO MA JYOTIRGAMAYA
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