Saturday, 15 October 2011

Diwali - The festival of lights

Diwali or Deepavali is the Festival of Lights, a very popular festival celebrated by Indians (Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism – each religion celebrates for different reasons) all over the world. It is a five day long festival, however in modern times the celebration has been reduced to a single day. The celebration revolves around the belief that goodness always triumphs.

By lighting clay lamps with oil, we expel evil and negative energy. Wearing new clothes, cleaning up the house, removing unwanted material from your home, distributing sweets and gifts, bursting crackers – all are to initiate and invoke positive energy into one’s life. In a more philosophical note Denali can be considered the celebration of Inner Light (Athma), a reminder that we have to aspire to come closer to divinity through good deeds and thought. It is the time to reflect within us and correct ourselves for the better, a time to reach out to those we have wronged and ask for their forgiveness and definitely a time to let your loved ones know and feel your love for them

There are many myths associated with the significance of Diwali celebrations; each of the five days is celebrated for various reasons.

- The first day of the celebration is Dhantrayodashi or Dhan Teras. On this day Dhanvantri, the father of Indian medicine, Ayurvedha, is worshiped by the physician community

-  The Second Day celebrates the killing of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Many celebrate this day as the return of beloved Lord Rama (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) to Ayodhya along with Sita and Lakshmana after a 14 years exile. They were welcomed by the people with lit diyas. In both beliefs Mankind is protected from danger, the celebration is to rejoice the victory of the good over the evil!

-  The Third day is dedicated for Lakshmi Puja. Shops and homes are adorned beautifully with colorful flowers and other traditional decorations, incense sticks are burnt for fragrance, and Lakshmi the Goddess of Wealth and Lord Ganesha , the God of all Auspicious beginnings are worshipped. It is believed that the Gods will be attracted to your home if the puja is done with purity and sincerity .When Lakshmi and Ganesh reside in your dwelling, you are assured of Prosperity and Well Being.

In Bengal, Kali Puja is more popular .Goddess Kali is the destroyer of all evil, the Protector of Justice

Jainism celebrates Diwali as Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankaras, attained Nirvana or Moksha on this day

For Sikhs, Diwali is important because it celebrates the release of their sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was held prisoner in the Gwalior Fort in 1619. The Sikhs celebrate the return of their Guru every year by lighting the Golden Temple

-  The Fourth Day is celebrated as Balipratipada and Govardhan Puja , both signifies the triumphant win of the good over the evil .Balipratipada is the defeat of the King Bali by Vamana , the dwarf incarnation of Vishu.Govardhan Puja is in celebration of the defeat Indra faced in the hands of Lord Krishna ( incarnation of Lord Vishnu )

-  The fifth day is Yama Dwitiya or Bhaiya Duj, a day for brothers and sisters to consolidate their love their love for each other. Yama, the Lord of Death meets his sister River Yamuna. She prepares a feast for her brother and as a token of appreciation, Yama gives her a gift. On this day sisters pray for the well being and longevity of their brothers and the sisters receive gifts of love from their brothers