It is the time for Diwali. The Festival of Lights. The ancient Hindu festival held each autumn. The time to celebrate victory of good over evil.
I do not propose to be an expert but I was chatting with a young Facebook friend, D, who told me that it is the time of the Festival. He said, "It's a most awesome festival. We celebrate by sweets, crackers, etc." I could feel his excitement as he told me "It is our largest grand festival ever."
His enthusiasm was contagious and I wanted to know more. I found a wonderful website, which you can visit by clicking here. As I was reading I realized that the five days of the festival celebrate things that we can all appreciate.
The first day of the festival celebrates a legend of good, or light, over evil, or dark. One legend has it that the wife of a young prince is said to have warded off the god of death by lighting many lamps and piling up ornaments of metal and coins so that they blinded the god. She sat through the night, singing and telling tales, and the god of death retreated in the morning. Entrances of homes and businesses are decorated by beautiful Rangoli designs made with colored sand, rice or flower petals in order to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Light over dark, Good over evil. Who has not said that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness?
This is also known as little Diwali. In reverence to the Lord Krishna killing a demon that had imprisoned many women, they gave him a good bath and massaged scented oils into his skin. The mother of the demon declared that it should be a day of celebration, not mourning, so in many parts of India a bath early in the morning is had, often with loud crackers and fireworks used to entertain the young ones. I think that often we hurry through our bathing and pay no attention to how it feels to have the battles of the day washed away from our weary bodies. Each day we are here is a day that the divine conquered for us.
Lakshmi Puja on Diwali
Ahh, the third day of Diwali is the most celebrated due to the visit of the Goddess Lakshmi. She is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Bells are rung and drums are beaten in the temples. This is the day that a light of knowledge touches the heart of man and these lights are symbolized by many lamps. Puja is a term for worship. But be forewarned - the goddess visits the cleanest houses first so it is important to have the house spotless for her visit. What I take from this auspicious day is that if we allow our hearts to be enlightened we will be visited by great wealth. And in my mind, wealth is not always monetary.
Padwa and Govardhan Puja
Gudi Padwa is a celebration of the love between a husband and wife. Newlywed daughters and their husbands come over for a special meal and presents. Is this not a lovely thing to celebrate? Govardhan Puja is also celebrated, commemorating the time the god Vishnu saved the world from a flood. Also observed is Annakoot, or mountain of food. A bhot, or offering of food, is made to the deities and then believers take a prasad, a food that has been blessed by the gods. The sharing of meals is always a cause for counting your blessings.
This is the fifth, or last, day of Diwali. It is a celebration of the brother, bhai, a time to pray for his long life. According to scriptures it is said that the god of death went to his sister's house and she prepared him a glorious meal. She also put a mark, or tilak, on his forehead. The god of death was so pleased that he proclaimed that if a sister puts a tilak on her brother on that day, the dooj day, no one can harm him. Brothers also give presents to their sisters on this day.
I hope I covered the very basics of this wondrous festival. It seems a beautiful time of enlightenment and celebration of family and friends. And a glorious time for worship. These are things that we can all appreciate.
Do you have anything to add about your Diwali celebration? If so, please feel free to leave me a comment. I would appreciate it very much. And: