Deepawali is an important festival for Hindus and is a New Moon Day. Deepawali or Diwali is certainly the biggest and the brightest of all Vydic festivals. It originated in ancient times and is also popularly known as the “festival of lights” in the west. It is an ancient Hindu festival that is celebrated in autumn every year. The word ‘Deepavali’ in Sanskrit means – “Deepa” light and “avail” a row. So Deepavali is a row or line of lights and as it is said that the unique feature of this festival is that all the homes, businesses, temples and other places are all decorated with many lights lit inside and outside of them and are placed all around. The spiritual significance of this festival is to show the victory of light over darkness which in many ways also signifies victory of knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. The festival night of Deepawali also happens to be the darkest, new moon night of the Vydic Calendar in the month of Sacred Month of Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls somewhere between mid-October and mid-November.
The festivities start a couple of days before with Dhanteras (Dhanteras usually falls eighteen days after Dussehra), followed by Naraka Chaturdashi (Naraka Chaturdashi marks the vanquishing of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama Devi) on the second day. On the third day is Deepavali, which is the main Festival day.
Preparation of this Festival begins way before its onset with the cleaning of homes. All the homes or office buildings are decorated with many colorful flower garlands, and lights. Since this festival also signifies success & property, people also buy special items, property, gold, and new clothes on this day. This is one of the major shopping times and a good boost for all businesses.
Lots of varieties of delicious dishes are cooked and lots of sweets are also prepared for this occasion. On Diwali festival night, all the family members dress up in new clothes, light up lots of lamps called ‘diyas’ and use them for decoration inside and outside their respective homes. They begin the festivities with a Special Prayer or Pooja to the Goddess Sri Maha Lakshmi Devi (the Goddess of wealth and prosperity). Then, everything is first offered to the Goddess, and after seeking her blessings, everyone moves on for the main fun in the festival. Fireworks & crackers are the main entertainment part which all children and elders enjoy equally. This is then followed by a grand feast of all the grand dishes and special sweets, and an exchange of gifts between family members, close friends, and relatives takes place. This festival illuminates the country with its brilliance and brings a lot of joy & happiness to all.
Origin of Deepavali
Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India. Deepavali has been associated with the celebration for many reasons, each connected to each region of India. Some believe this day to be the auspicious day of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. Whereas in eastern part of India, the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali , the dark goddess of strength. In Jainism, Deepawali has an added significance to the great event of Lord Mahavira attaining the eternal bliss of nirvana. Diwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita Devi and Brother Lakshmana from their fourteen years of exile after vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their beloved King Lord Sri Rama, the people of Ayodhya, (the then Capital of Lord Rama’s Kingdom), illuminated the whole kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers. In the Southern part of India, Deepavali is celebrated in the joy of victory of Lord Krishna and Satyabhama’s battle with the demon Narakasura. Thus, Deepavali is a joyous, fun-filled, and grand festival that is celebrated by one and all with equal fervor and enthusiasm. Diwali is celebrated as an official major holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji.
Suggested traditions to be practiced on Deepavali
We can shop for new clothes and retire our oldest clothes. This is symbolic for promoting the acceptance of the new energies of abundance and spiritual growth, while releasing the old vibrations of stagnation and lethargy.
Giving gifts to friends and families is a new trend, which is unnecessary. However if we still wish to give offerings, then we can choose ideal gifts used for devotion and worship, such as books on spirituality or Pooja items and items that stimulate inner growth.
Rather than ordering commercially, it would be ideal if one can try to prepare sweets, snacks, and other food at home using pure ghee and fresh products. Thus, we can ensure purity in the food we consume.
If we wish to have a get-together, we can organize a bhajan, Satsang, spiritual discussion, rather than a party. It is also a very good idea to have some Pooja or Homa done at your home on this occasion.
On the day of Diwali, wake up at dawn and have a bath with an oil massage. Take a shower and proceed for Pooja.
Traditional music like bhajans, Indian chants, Nadaswaram or Shehnai to the Divine, can be played.
Flowers like marigold can be used to make a garland along with mango leaves and hung at the main door.
If we wish to celebrate Diwali as a community, we can organize Satsang with family, bhajan singing, and other devotional activities that focus on growth of inner peace and awareness.
It is ideal to devote time to prayers for God and chanting the Lord’s name during the days of Diwali as it will help us to absorb the Divine Consciousness present in the atmosphere.
The lady of the house should do aukshan (waving of lit lamps) for the other members of the family.
Many people light wax candles as they are easier to handle. However, at twilight, we can light oil lamps made of clay, rather than acrylic or glass, to illuminate our homes. Remembering that the significance of lighting the lamps is a recognition of the Soul Light that guides us from within, the truest symbolic meaning of Diwali
It is advised to avoid unnecessary arguments during all auspicious days and try to retain Peace and tranquility within you and all around you.
Wealth Yagyas-Sri Maha Dhana Lakshmi Yagya with 1008 Red Lotuses.
Participants will benefit through great success, abundance of wealth, good health, prosperity in business, eradication of poverty and debt, and all desires fulfilled. This Yagya is strongly advised for all at least once every year for better life prospects and leading a successful life for the rest of the year.