Diwali

Diwali is a major festival of the Hindu religion. It is also known as Deepavali.

Message to Seekers

Prayer to Srikrushna on Diwali day !

On Ashwin Chaturdashi or Narak Chaturdashi, per the Hindu calendar, Diwali is celebrated all over the world. On this day, seekers should pray to Srikrushna as follows, “Please give us the strength to fight the Narkasur of evil or negative energies in society, just as you slew the demon Narkasur on this day in Dwaparyug. May our Kshatravrutti (attitude to fight obstacles and do sadhana [spiritual practice]) remain activated by Your grace. Please give us the strength for nation building and awakening of Dharma (Righteousness) . We pray at Your Feet that may our chanting be with bhav (spirtual emotion) and in the Marak form, for our spiritual progress.”

The word Diwali has been derived from the word Dipavali, a Sanskrut word, meaning a row of lights. During Diwali, lamps are lit everywhere.  It is celebrated on four consecutive days, as follows.

Some exclude Dhanatrayodashi and consider only the remaining three days as Diwali.

Since Vasubaras and Bhaubij / Bhaidooj precede and follow Diwali respectively, they are included in it.

However, in reality they are separate holy festivals.

Significance and Celebration of Diwali

Day 1: Trayodashi (thirteenth day) of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin

It is also called Dhanatrayodashi or in colloquial language, Dhanteras. The Hindu commercial year is comprised of the period between one Dhanatrayodashi and another. Businessmen worship their safes and begin new account books on this day.

Worship of the Deity Dhanvantari : According to Ayurved (ancient Bharatiya medical science), it is the birthday of the Deity Dhanvantari, the Deity bestowing immortality. Hence, it is also called Dhanvantari jayanti. On this day, vaidyas (Ayurvedic doctors) worship Him and distribute a prasad (sacred offering) of small pieces of neem leaves and sugar to visitors. Besides the fact that neem leaves are very good for health (chewing five to six of them everyday helps prevent disease), they also have the highest ability to absorb prajapati frequencies.

Offering of lamps : On this day, one performs Yamadipadan, that is, an offering of lamps to Sri Yama to prevent untimely death. Thirteen lamps made of wheat flour and lit with oil are placed outside the house, facing southwards (direction of Sri Yama), in the evening. A lamp is never kept facing southwards except on this day. Then, reciting the following mantra one offers obeisance: “I offer these thirteen lamps to the son (Sri Yama) of the Sun Deity (Surya), so that He liberates me from the clutches of death and bestows His blessings.” 

Day 2:  Chaturdashi (fourteenth day) of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin

Abhyangasnan (Ablution with oil) : According to Shrimadbhagvat Puran, on this day Srikrushna slew a powerful demon, Narkasur. The dying Narkasur asked  Srikrushna for a boon, as follows “On this tithi (date as per Hindu lunar Almanac) let one, who takes mangalsnan (auspicious bath) not suffer in hell.” Srikrushna granted him the boon. Consequently, this day also came to be known as Narak chaturdashi, and on that day people started taking an auspicious bath before sunrise.

Yamatarpan and arati : On this day, one performs Yamatarpan, that is, offering to the Deity of death (Sri Yama) after an auspicious bath to overcome apamrutyu (untimely death). Thereafter, the mother moves lit lamps in front of her children’s faces to commemorate the celebration of Srikrushna’s victory.

Day 3: Amavasya (new moon day) of the month of Ashwin

Generally, the new moon day is considered inauspicious; however, this day is an exception to the rule. Since it is still not auspicious for all events, it is more appropriate to call it a day of happiness rather than an auspicious day.

The Deities Lakshmi and Kuber are worshipped on this new moon day. Lakshmi is the Deity of wealth, but Kuber is the treasurer. Some people possess the art of earning money but do not know how to save it. However, saving money and spending it appropriately is far more important than earning it. Since most people do not know how to spend money properly, their spending is unwarranted and ultimately they become bankrupt. Kuber is the Deity Who teaches the art of saving money as He Himself is the treasurer. Therefore, in this ritual, the worship of Lakshmi and Kuber has been recommended. Though all people celebrate this festival, the business community in particular does so with great enthusiasm and splendor.

The celebration of this proceeds as follows:

Abhyangasnan : Bath with an oil massage is recommended on all the three days from Narak chaturdashi to Balipratipada. One should wake up early in the morning and take an oil bath. With an ordinary bath the Raja and Tama components decrease by 1/100,000% and the Sattva component increases by the same amount for a duration of only three hours. However, with the oil bath it lasts for four to five hours. An oil bath consists of an oil massage to facilitate the absorption of oil by the skin, followed by a warm water bath. Oil should be applied to retain elasticity of the skin. Warm water is auspicious and pleasing to the body. Bathing after an oil massage retains only that amount of oiliness that the skin and hair require. Hence, an oil massage is necessary before a bath. Application of oil after a bath is inappropriate.

Lakshmipujan : On this day, one performs Lakshmipujan, that is, worship of Deity Lakshmi, the Deity of prosperity. After an auspicious bath at dawn, one should worship the Deities. In the afternoon, parvanshraddha (rite for the departed souls) and an offering of meals to Sri Brahma (who created the Universe) is performed and in the evening, in a pandal decorated with creepers and leaves, Sri Lakshmi, Srivishnu, Sri Kuber, and other Deities are worshipped in the following manner. A statue or picture of Sri Lakshmi is installed on a seat on which either an octapetalled lotus or a swastik is drawn with akshata (consecrated rice). Next to Her, a statue of Sri Kuber is placed on a kalash (pot). Then, all the Deities are offered prasad of a mixture of evaporated cow’s milk  sugar, cardamom and cloves. Then, items like coriander, jaggery, and corn from parched, uncleaned rice, sugar candies etc., are offered to Sri Lakshmi and distributed to friends. The Purans (Hindu spiritual texts) narrate that on this night, Sri Lakshmi enters the ideal home,which besides being clean, is inhabited by men who are faithful, dutiful, merciful, righteous, have control over passions and are devotees of God, and women who are virtuous and chaste.

Cleaning the house : Development of virtues gains importance only if in the process, defects are overcome. Just as one makes efforts to acquire wealth (Lakshmi), poverty (alakshmi) should be destroyed. To signify that, on this day a new broom is bought. It is called Lakshmi. At midnight one should sweep the house with that broom, accumulate the garbage in a dustpan and throw it out. This is called ‘driving off’ of alakshmi (garbage – poverty).

Sweeping/vacuuming the house and throwing the garbage out at night is forbidden on other days.

Decoration with lit lamps : Lamps should be lit both inside and outside the house on all the evenings of Diwali. This gives the house a decorative look and generates enthusiasm and joy. Earthen lamps lit with oil are more decorative and soothing than a string of electric bulbs.  This is in alignment with the Vedic teaching that one should go from darkness (spiritual ignorance) to light (spiritual knowledge.). Offering lit lamps attracts Sri Lakshmi. Each and everyone should celebrate the religious festival of Diwali with enthusiasm so that Sri Lakshmi perpetually inhabits one’s home and one is enlightened with spiritual knowledge. This helps to maintain happiness and prosperity in the family.

Decoration with lanterns (akashkandil) : The lantern should be hung outside the house on a tall pole. The pole should be held in the ground by burying its base and the lantern should be hung on it with the help of a string. This lantern should be displayed from the ekadashi (eleventh day) of the bright fortnight of the month of Ashvin till the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of the month of Kartik. To gain prosperity, the lantern should be ritualistically installed, repeating the mantra : “I am offering this lantern along with the lamp to The Supreme Almighty Damodar. May He endow me with prosperity.”

Rangoli: The word rangoli is derived from the Sanskrut word ‘rangavali‘ (an array of colours). Thus, a design created by a pinch of hand, allowing the powder of a special soft white stone to flow freely 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. The two aims of drawing rangoli are revelation of beauty and acquisition of auspiciousness.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. When performing the act of moving lit lamps about the face for someone (arti), rangoli is drawn around a wooden seat on which he is seated and also in front of him. At public functions also during a meal, rangoli is drawn around a wooden seat and the plate or leaf on which the meal is served. During Diwali various rangoli designs are drawn at the doorstep and decorated with different colours. In the ancient times it was a practice to sweep and sprinkle every doorstep with cowdung everyday and draw rangoli.

Rangoli is drawn with powder obtained by pounding a cleavable and lustrous mineral (shirgola). Rangoli powder is generally coarse. As a result, it is easily released with a pinch. After smearing the ground with cowdung, one should not forget to draw at least four lines of rangoli on it. Ground smeared with cowdung but not decorated with rangoli is said to be inauspicious. When sweeping the floor or smearing with cowdung, subtle lines are created on it. These possess certain frequencies. Since these lines are irregular, their vibrations, too, are irregular. These are harmful to the body, eyes and mind as well. To overcome these unfavorable frequencies, if cones and auspicious symbols are drawn systematically with rangoli on the smeared floor, then the ill effects of sweeping/vacuuming and smearing are overcome and favorable results are obtained.

Day 4:  Pratipada (first day) of the bright fortnight of the month of Kartik

This is the half among the three-and-a-half auspicious moments. It is called Balipratipada, as King Bali was stripped of his kingdom and sent to the netherworld, as punishment for making offerings unto the undeserving. Hence, a picture of King Bali and his queen is drawn with rangoli on the floor, decorated with five colours and worshipped. Then in remembrance of Bali’s generosity, lamps and clothes are donated.

On this day, after abhyangasnan, women move lit lamps in front of their husbands’ faces. In the afternoon, one feasts on a meal with delicacies. People don new attire and celebrate throughout the day. There is also a practice of Govardhanpuja (worshipping the mountain Govardhan) on this day, by making a heap of cowdung and tucking durva (a sacred grass) and flowers into it. Pictures of  Srikrushna, the cowherds, Sri Indra, cows and calves are arranged alongside and also worshipped. They are then taken out in a procession, to commemorate Srikrushna’s saving the cowherds and their herds from torrential rains by holding up the mountain Govardhan, like an umbrella over them, with His finger.

Sri Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the energy associated with Srivishnu.

Lakshmi is derived from Lakshma, which means a symbol. A substitute for Lakshmi is the word “Sri”, which means decoration or luster. Since the word Sri is derived from the symbol swastik, it seems quite likely that the symbol representing Lakshmi must be the swastik. One comes across both the words Sri and Lakshmi in the Rugved. The Shrisukta, an appendix of the Rugved, is quite famous. Sri Lakshmi is worshipped with the Shrisukta itself.’ ‘Sri’ is the Deity of fortune.

Vedic literature has described the expansive form of Sri or Lakshmi as the Deity who enriches by endowing with prosperity, wealth, health and longevity, progeny and continuation of the family tree, abundant food grain, servants, well-equipped servitors etc. The book in Her hand symbolises the Veds, that is, spiritual knowledge.

Meaning of the lotus and rising Sun : ‘An indepth meaning has been attached to the blossoming of the lotus with the touch of the rising Sun. The Sun is the representative of the dyu region [dyulok – a part of heaven (svargalok)], while the earth is his consort. The implied meaning of this is that the union of heaven and the earth gives birth to the universe as the fetus. In this way Sages have associated the earth, that is, Sri, Who has the capacity to reproduce, with the lotus.’

[Reference taken from Volume 9B : Divine Energy (Shakti), compiled by Dr. Jayant B. Athavale and Dr. Mrs. Kunda Athavale, published by the Sanatan.]

Gift ideas for Diwali

During Diwali, sweets , fruits/dry fruits, special homemade snacks etc., as well as other articles like jewellery, greeting cards etc., are gifted. On the day of Bhaubij

(Bhaidooj), brothers give gifts of money, jewellery etc., to sisters. This Diwali, we can give sattvik gifts that will benefit our loved ones with their sattvik vibrations, as well as by acting as reminders to do spiritual practice and develop sattvik qualities.

Some such gifts are:

Sattvik pictures of Deities : Pictures with maximum principle of the respective Deity are available with Sanatan and are helpful in attracting the Deity’s presence, as well as in activating bhav (spiritual emotion) during worship of the Deity. Greeting cards with sattvik pictures of Deities are also available.

Nampatti (Chanting strips) : Paper strips with any of the seven chants necessary to remove negative energy obstacles and make spiritual progress are available with the Sanatan.

Sattvik greeting card : As with all the other materials of the Sanatan, this greeting card, too, has been prepared by seekers with devotion, as a part of their satseva. Hence, it is sattvik and emanates Chaitanya.