The word Diwali has originated from Deepavali, which in turn is formed as deep (lamp) + avali (row). Deepavali is thus a row of lamps. During Diwali, lamps are lit everywhere. When Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya after completing fourteen years in exile, his subjects celebrated by lighting lamps. Since then, the festival of Diwali has been celebrated. Deepavali is celebrated on four consecutive days – the 13th, the 14th and the new moon day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Ashwin and the first day of the bright fortnight of Kartik. In this article by Sanatan Sanstha we will understand the importance of Deepavali festival.
Spiritual meaning of Diwali – By killing the demon Narkasur, Shrikrushna freed people from an attitude of indulgence in worldly pleasures, jealousy, unrighteousness and negative attitudes and made them happy by giving thoughts of God (or Divine thoughts), which is what Diwali is about. We have been celebrating Diwali year after year merely as a custom. Today the festival has lost its true meaning. If after comprehending this hidden meaning our knowledge is kindled, then the ignorance in the form of darkness will reduce. Also, the domination by people with demoniacal tendencies of enjoying worldly pleasures and indulging in unrighteous attitudes, over the righteous, will reduce.
Dhanatrayodashi (1st Day) – This falls on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of Ashwin. This is very important for businessmen as they worship their treasuries and Ayurvedic doctors who worship Deity Dhanavantari.
Dhanavantari Jayanti – From the perspective of Ayurveda, the 1st day of Deepavali is Dhanavantari Jayanti. On this day, Vaidyas (Ayurvedic doctors) worship Dhanavantari (Physician of Gods). Small pieces of leaves of bitter neem mixed with sugar are distributed as Prasad (Holy sacrament).
Narak Chaturdashi (2nd Day) – This falls on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of Ashwin. This day has been celebrated ever since Shrikrushna slayed the demon Narakasur.
Lakshmi Pujan (3rd Day) – This falls on the new moon day of the dark fortnight of Ashwin. On this day, rituals worshipping Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) are performed to get rid of poverty (Alakshmi).
Balipratipada (4th Day) – This falls on the 1st day of the bright fortnight of Kartik. It is celebrated to symbolize Shri Vishnu’s conquest over the demon King Bali.
In addition to the above days, following festivals are also included as a part of Deepavali.
Vasubaras – ‘Vasu’ means cow and ‘Baras’ means the 12th day; hence, the word ‘Vasubaras’. This is celebrated on the 12th day of the dark fortnight of Ashwin, a day before the 1st day of Deepavali. It is dedicated to worshipping the cow along with her calf.
Bhaiduj (Yamadwitiya) – This is celebrated on the 2nd day of the bright fortnight of Kartik and comes after the 4th day of Deepavali. This festival is celebrated as a symbol of Divine bond of love between brother and sister. On this day, Shrikrushna slayed the evil demon Shakatasur and liberated many women from the demon’s clutches.
Features of Diwali
Decoration with lamps – On the eve of Diwali, lamps should be lit in a row both inside and outside the house. This gives the house a beautiful decorative look and generates enthusiasm and joy. Earthen lamps lit with oil have a more decorative and soothing effect than a string of electric bulbs. The word deep actually means a flame of a wick soaked in oil.
The Shrutis say – ‘तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय’
Meaning : ‘Go from darkness to light’.
Those who do not light lamps on these three days remain perpetually in darkness; they cannot go towards light, that is, spiritual knowledge. Offering lamps attracts Lakshmi. Each one should celebrate the Religious festival of Diwali with enthusiasm so that Devi Lakshmi perpetually inhabits the home and he/she is enlightened with spiritual knowledge. This helps maintain happiness and prosperity in the family.
Akash-kandil (lantern or a skylantern) – This is a part of decoration with lamps. The lantern, which is hung with the help of a string on a tall pole pitched in the ground outside the house, from Ashvin Shukla Ekadashi (Eleventh day of the bright fortnight of Ashvin) till Kartik Shukla Ekadashi (Eleventh day of the bright fortnight of Kartik) is called an akash-kandil.
Rangoli – During the days of Diwali, rangolis are drawn in the courtyard and at the entrance of the house.
Celebrate Deepavali the Hindu way !
In recent years, Deepavali is considered and celebrated as a cultural activity. It is supposed to be the time to buy new clothes, sweets, to illuminate homes with colourful electric lights and hang lanterns. There is a lot of fanfare in the form of parties, dancing to film or western music and even drinking alcohol. All this is done in the name of a festival which has to be celebrated with sanctity in a spiritually correct way.