Diwali is a festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The word Diwali means “festival of lights”. Diwali can also be called ‘deepavali’. On Diwali people light rows of lights to commemorate heroic figures in Indian mythology who triumphed over the forces of evil. Also people clean their homes and open all their windows and doors to welcome luck and good fortune during Diwali. The exchange of gifts is also traditional during this holiday, and many people host dinners and Diwali parties.
Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival. However, there are various legends pointing to the origin of Diwali or ‘Deepawali.’ Some believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. Whereas in Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali, the dark goddess of strength. Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, the symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshiped in most Hindu homes on this day. 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 and Lakshman from his fourteen year long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.
Each day of Diwali has its own tale, legend and myth to tell. The first day of the festival Naraka Chaturdasi marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. Amavasya, the second day of Deepawali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the tyrant Bali, and banished him to hell. Bali was allowed to return to earth once a year, to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance, and spread the radiance of love and wisdom. It is on the third day of Deepawali — Kartika Shudda Padyami that Bali steps out of hell and rules the earth according to the boon given by Lord Vishnu. The fourth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj) and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.
Several reasons behind Diwali/Deepavali celebrations:
1.Goddess Lakshmi’s Birthday: The Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi incarnated on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (samudra-manthan), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi.
ದೀಪಾವಳಿ ಸಂದರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿಪೂಜೆಯ ಮಹತ್ವದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ವಿದ್ವಾಂಸರ ಬಳಿ ಇಂದು ಕೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ. ಅವರೆಂದರು, ಲಕ್ಮಿ ಕ್ಷೀರಸಾಗರದಿಂದ ಉದ್ಭವಿಸಿದ ದಿನವಿದು ಎಂದು. ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ಕ್ಷೀರಸಾಗರದಲ್ಲಿ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ ಉದಿಸಿದ ಕಥಾನಕದ ನೆನಪಾಯಿತು.
ಸಮುದ್ರಮಥನದ ಸಂದರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಾಮಧೇನು ಹುಟ್ಟಿಬಂತು. ಉಚ್ಚೈಶ್ರವಸ್ಸು ಎಂಬ ಶ್ರೇಷ್ಠ ಕುದುರೆ ಹುಟ್ಟಿಬಂತು. ಐರಾವತವೆಂಬ ಆನೆ ಬಂತು. ಹಿಮವತ್ಪರ್ವತದಂತೆ ಬೆಳ್ಳಗೆ ಬೆಳಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ನಾಲ್ಕು ದಂತಗಳ ಆ ಆನೆಯ ಹಿಂದೆಯೇ ಎಂಟು ದಿಗ್ಗಜಗಳೂ ಅವುಗಳ ರಾಣಿಯರೂ ಉದಿಸಿಬಂದರು. ಕಮಲದಂತೆ ಕೆಂಪಾದ ‘ಕೌಸ್ತುಬ’ ರತ್ನ ಹುಟ್ಟಿತು. ಶ್ರೀಹರಿಯು ಆ ರತ್ನವನ್ನು ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡು ತನ್ನ ಎದೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಧರಿಸಿದನು. ಆ ಮೇಲೆ ಕೇಳಿದವರಿಗೆ ಕೇಳಿದುದನ್ನು ಕೊಡುವ ಪಾರಿಜಾತವೇ ಮೊದಲಾದ ಕಲ್ಪವೃಕ್ಷಗಳೂ, ಲೋಕವನ್ನೇ ಮರುಳುಗೊಳಿಸುವ ಮೋಹಕ ರೂಪಿನ ಅಪ್ಸರೆಯರೂ ಹುಟ್ಟಿದರು. ಅವರ ಹಿಂದೆಯೇ ಮಹಾಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ ಮೂಡಿ ಬಂದಳು. ಮಿಂಚಿನ ಬಳ್ಳಿಯಂತೆ ದಶದಿಕ್ಕುಗಳನ್ನೂ ಬೆಳಗುತ್ತಾ ಹೊರಬಂದ ಆಕೆಯ ರೂಪ ಲಾವಣ್ಯವನ್ನು ಬಣ್ಣಿಸಲು ಮಾತಿಗೆ ಶಕ್ತಿ ಸಾಲದು. ಆಕೆಯ ಬಣ್ಣ, ರೂಪ, ಯೌವನಗಳನ್ನು ಕಂಡು, ದೇವದಾನವರೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಮೈಮರೆತು, ಮರುಳಾಗಿ ‘ನನಗೆ-ತನಗೆ’ ಎಂದು ತಹತಹಪಟ್ಟರು. ದೇವೆಂದ್ರನು ಆಕೆ ಕುಳಿತುಕೊಳ್ಳಲೆಂದು ಒಂದು ಸಿಂಹಾಸನವನ್ನು ತಂದುಹಾಕಿದನು. ದೇವತೆಗಳೂ
ಋಷಿಗಳೂ ಆಕೆಗೆ ಕಾಣಿಕೆಯನ್ನು ತಂದಿತ್ತರು. ಬ್ರಹ್ಮನು ಆಕೆಗೆ ಒಂದು ಲೀಲಾಕಮಲವನ್ನು ಕೊಟ್ಟನು. ಸರಸ್ವತಿ ಮುತ್ತಿನ ಹಾರವನ್ನು ಸಮರ್ಪಿಸಿದಳು. ಬಂಗಾರದ ಬಳ್ಳಿಯಂತಿದ್ದ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮೀದೇವಿಯು ತನಗೊಪ್ಪಿಸಿದ ಮರ್ಯಾದೆಗಳನ್ನೆಲ್ಲಾ ಸ್ವೀಕರಿಸುತ್ತಾ ಮುಗುಳ್ನಗೆಯೊಡನೆ ಬೆರೆತ ಮಧುರವಾದ ನೋಟದಿಂದ ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಎಲ್ಲರನ್ನೂ ನೋಡಿದಳು. ಅನಂತರ ಶ್ರೀಹರಿಯ ಕೊರಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕಮಲದ ಹಾರವನ್ನು ಹಾಕಿ, ಆತನ ಹೃದಯದಲ್ಲಿ ನೆಲೆಸಿದಳು. ಆ ಶುಭಮುಹೂರ್ತದಲ್ಲಿ ಹೂಮಳೆಗರೆಯಿತು. ಗಂಧರ್ವರು ಗಾನಮಾಡಿದರು. ಅಪ್ಸರೆಯರು ನರ್ತಿಸಿದರು. ಲೋಕವೆಲ್ಲ ಆನಂದದಿಂದ ತುಂಬಿ ನಲಿಯಿತು.
ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿದೇವಿಯು ಹುಟ್ಟಿದೊಡನೆಯೇ ಸಮುದ್ರವನ್ನು ಕಡೆಯುವ ಕೆಲಸ ನಿಂತು ಹೋಗಿತ್ತಂತೆ. ಆಕೆಯ ಸ್ವಯಂವರ ನೆರವೇರುತ್ತಲೇ ಆ ಕೆಲಸ ಮುಂದುವರೆಯಿತು.
2. Vishnu Rescued Lakshmi: On this very day (Diwali day), Lord Vishnu in his fifth incarnation as Vaman-avtaara rescued Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali and this is another reason of worshipping Ma Lakshmi on Diwali.
3. Krishna Killed Narakaasur: On the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakaasur and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity. The celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day as a victory festival.
4. The Return of the Pandavas: According to the great epic ‘Mahabharata’, it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ when the Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.
5. The Victory of Rama: The return of Rama after 14 years of Vanvas (banishment). According to the epic ‘Ramayana’, it was the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Ram, Ma Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and conquering Lanka. The citizens of Ayodhya decorated the entire city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before.
6. Coronation of Vikramaditya: One of the greatest Hindu King Vikramaditya was coroneted on the Diwali day, hence Diwali became a historical event as well.
The Significance of Lights & Firecrackers:
All the simple rituals of Diwali have a significance and a story to tell. The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with firecrackers is an expression of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity. According to one belief, the sound of fire-crackers are an indication of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state. Still another possible reason has a more scientific basis: the fumes produced by the crackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitoes, found in plenty after the rains.
The word Diwali has been derived from Dipawali which in turn is formed by dipa + avali (row). Dipawali is thus a line or a row of lamps. During Diwali, lamps are lit everywhere. It is celebrated on four consecutive days – the thirteenth day (Dhanatrayodashi), the fourteenth day (Narak chaturdashi) and the new moon day (amavasya) [Lakshmipujan] of the dark fortnight of Ashvin and the first day of the bright fortnight of Kartik (Balipratipada). Some exclude the thirteenth and consider only the remaining three days as Diwali. Since Vasubaras and Bhaubij respectively precede and follow Diwali, they are included in it. However in reality they are separate holy festivals.
Dhanteras: The thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Ashvin
On this day Lord Vishnu’s unmanifest energy flows through Shri Laxmi Devi’s Surya nadi (the right channel of the Kundalini) and the channel is activated. The rays generated from here are full of the ‘Tej tatva’ or the fire element. These ‘Tej’ rays spread all over the Universe and the whole Universe is illuminated by shiny golden particles.
Goddess Laxmi’s chaitanya present in these golden particles provides opulence, prosperity and creates an environment conducive for spiritual practice. Hence on this day Goddess Laxmi is worshipped with utmost devotion. Because of the ritualistic worship with spiritual emotion, the Lord and controller of wealth – Kuber enters the earth’s environment.
Narak Chaturdashi: The fourteenth day (chaturdashi) of the dark fortnight of Ashvin
On this day, lighting lamps can destroy demonic energies. The day before Chaudas, fourteenth day of the fortnight, after 12 a.m. the atmosphere starts getting polluted with raja-tama frequencies, because on this day the Universe moves from the Chandra-nadi (or the moon channel), into the Surya-nadi (or the Sun channel). This helps the demonic energies in ‘Pataal’. The sound waves generated from ‘Pataal’ are created by heat generated from movement of particles loaded with raja-tama components. To neutralize the effect of these waves, one has to bathe early in the morning, light ghee lamps in earthen pots and ritualistically worship them. The lamps radiate waves of particles charged with the fire element, which helps to destroy the raja-tama laden particles in the environment. Due to this, raja-tama particles present in the cells of demonic energies also melt away, which helps to destroy the protective sheath around the demonic energies. Hence, a soul begins afresh to perform any auspicious activity. On this day demonic energies get annihilated, in a way amounting to destruction of distressing frequencies emanating from hell.
Lakshmi Pooja: The new moon day (amavasya) of Ashvin
This day ‘Laxmi-panchayatan’ enters the Universe. Shri Vishnu, Shri Indra, Shri Kuber, Shri Gajendra and Shri Laxmi are elements of this ‘panchayatan’ (a group of five). The tasks of these elements are:
Vishnu: Happiness (happiness and satisfaction)
Indra: Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
Kuber: Wealth (one who gives away wealth)
Gajendra: Carries the wealth
Laxmi: Divine Energy (Shakti) which provides energy to all the above activities.
Importance of Laxmi Puja:
A. Destruction of distressing energies On this particular day, Goddess Laxmi’s destroyer (marak) form is active, since it is the new moon day. The spiritual emotion of the person doing ritualistic worship, activates Goddess Laxmi’s marak form and destroys the distressing frequencies in the environment.
B. Arrival of other Gods (Devtas): Lord Indra and other male deities also get drawn to the place of ritualistic worship and follow Goddess Laxmi. Thus happiness, opulence, prosperity, stability and wealth is maintained in the premise (Vastu) by worshiping the 5 elements or Deities
Balipaadyami/Balipratipada: The first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of Kartik
Ritualistic worship of King Bali is performed to avoid troubles from distressing energies.
Creation of distressing energy : It is said that distressing energy was created on the day of Bali-pratipada. On this day, proportion of ‘Yama’ and ‘Tiryak’ frequencies is more in the Universe. When these frequencies come together, the distressing energies under the control of King Bali create more distressing energies. On this day, ritualistic worship of King Bali is done where an offering (Naivaidya) is made to him to satisfy his thirst and hunger. This keeps King Bali and the distressing energies under his control, happy for the whole year in ‘Paatal’, and not cause any trouble to lives on earth. With this, the Jiva (soul) on earth is able to practice spirituality without obstacles. Hindu Dharma gives as much importance to this day of appeasing the distressing energies as any other important festival. Hence, it will be clear how impartial and tolerant the Hindu Dharma is, as it thinks of righteous along with unrighteous.
A day to control frequencies generated by the distressing energies from hell.
Significance : On this day, Yamadev (deity of Death) has full control over hell and is in charge of the region of Death (Mrityulok). He also prevents negative energies from moving in various planes (lokas) and keeps a check on them. On this day, waves emanating from Yamadev travel through various layers of hell and keep matters in place. This keeps the effect of negative energies from hell to a minimum on this day. Hence, on this day, ritualistic worship of Yamadev is done to express gratitude. He is welcomed in the evening by lighting earthen lamps. Prayers are made for a long life.
Nature of the celebration:
Decoration with lit lamps – Lamps should be lit both inside and outside the house on the evening of Diwali. This gives the house a decorative look and generates enthusiasm and joy. Earthen lamps (pantis) lit with oil are more decorative and soothing than a string of electric bulbs.
Lanterns (akashkandil) – ‘This is a part of decoration with lamps. The lantern which is hung outside the house on a tall pole buried in the ground, with the help of a string, from the eleventh day (ekadashi) of the bright fortnight of Ashvin till the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of Kartik is called an akashdiva.
Rangoli – ‘The basic Sanskrut word is rangavalli. A design created by allowing the powder of a special soft white stone to flow freely, with a pinch of the hand is called rangoli. rangoli is an art which precedes sculpture and painting. It is both an auspicious and a preliminary necessity in any religious ritual. It is a practice to draw rangoli at the site of any auspicious religious ritual such as a holy festival, a religious festival, an auspicious function, ritualistic worship, a vowed religious observance, etc.
Ablution with oil (abhyangasnan) – Bath with an oil massage is recommended on all the three days from Narak chaturdashi to Balipratipada.
This ritual consists of uniting Lord Vishnu [an idol of Balkrushna (Infant Krushna)] and the basil (tulsi) plant in wedlock. In ancient times the practice of child marriage was prevalent. This ritual is performed on any day between the eleventh (ekadashi) and the full moon day (pournima) of the bright fortnight of Kartik. On the eve of the wedding the base of the basil plant is painted and decorated. Sugarcane and marigold flowers are placed next to the plant and tamarind and amla are placed at its bottom. The wedding ceremony is performed in the evening. All the vowed religious observances undertaken in the four months (chaturmas) after the tuLsi vivaha on the twelfth day (dvadashi) of the bright fortnight of Kartik, are concluded. All the food items which one has not eaten due to forbiddance are first offered to a Brahman and then partaken of.