Deepavali, The Festival of Lights

ramIt’s the latter part of the year and for most Hindu homes fasting periods are almost over. The vibe of spring and celebrations are definitely around the corner.

The creamy aroma of Klim powder and sweet sugar syrups in our homes, a colorful Korlum / Rangoli on our stoops, the sound of tom thumb crackers now and then going off, we know Divali is here!

The North Indian population is celebrating Diwali on the 30th October 2016 while South Indian population celebrate on the 29th October.

The day normally started of with applying an oil mixture to the scalp of ones head during an early morning bath, a Pooja is conducted  (The North Indian community also dedicates a fraction of the day to Maha Lakshmi  hence a vegetarian diet is conducted for the day,however the South Indian community start prayer to immediate ancestors and then move forward to Lord Raman’s victory.) The day then kicks in at around lunch time where family members would distribute sweat meats which was prepared prior to this event, bringing unity & joy amongst neighbours and close by relatives, at sunset clay lamps are gaily lit bringing light & warmth inclined to the fact of good over evil.

Deepavali hightlights the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. In these days of global unrest where suspicion, doubt and fear lurks in every heart, the need for the message of Deepavali becomes more relevant for all people. We must endeavor to eradicate negative thoughts from our minds and replace them with positive thoughts of love, understanding and harmony. Deepavali is also a time for reflection. Life does not advocate only the achievement of superhuman deeds. It is the spread of dharma and the establishment of justice that kindles the human spirit. The crowning of Rama’s glory at Deepavali must give rise to unselfish deeds and cleanse all evil desires. mankind is waiting for the promised Ayodha-free from hunger and want-when peace and plenty will reign supreme.-when all people will be healthy and content-where there will be no fear and anxiety-where man’s earthly carrier will be guided by spiritual love. Deepavali unites all mankind in the love of light which alone dispels dark ignorance.

Deepavali is celebrated on Amavaasai (the dark night) the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Tamil month of Aypassi (October/November). Deepavali is made up of two words – Deepa= light + Vali= a row. So Deepavali translates into “a row of lights”.

The lamp that Hindus light on Divali day is symbolic of the human body. Each part that constitutes the lamp represents the human body and the light that emanates from the lamp represents the lighting up of the inner being of a person. The clay lamp for example represents the physical body. The oil used in the lamp signify the various sense organs. The wick denotes the intellect while physical light seen by us all represents the spiritual light or enlightenment that all of us aspire to achieve.Just as the oil contained in the clay lamp, nourishes the wick which shines forth with its radiant flame, similarly the sense of hearing, seeing and other organs contained in the human body nourish the intellect. Through the knowledge acquired by the interaction of the senses the intellect becomes spiritually luminous and radiant. thus the pure oil, new wick and the lamp signify clean and pure thoughts which give  a greater brightness and luster.

Light signifies happiness, health, prosperity, peace and goodness. It also dispels darkness which stands for suffering through sadness, disease, poverty, violence, evil, gloom and despair. Just as the sun destroys the darkness of night so does the lamp destroy the darkness around it. Therefore the physical lamp kindles the inner light which inspires us to shine forth destroying the darkness of gloom and despair as it spreads the light of happiness and joy.

Diwali recipes

According to mythology it is believed that when Raman and Sita returned from the forest after their exile, the people welcomed them by lighting the way with lamps –hence the name of this festival .in India, the festival of Deepavali is hailed as a great day for celebration and is celebrated on a grand scale throughout the country. A common Mungalum is recited called “Ayodhya Vasi Ram”.

There are various legends behind the celebration of Deepavali coming from the various regions of India .The most common of these is the story of lord Raman and Sita’s return from exile after 14 years. Rows of light were lit to welcome Raman and Sita from the forest .The people’s joy knew no bounds as they celebrated their return with pomp and piety.

Deepavali finds its source in another legend as well. There was a demon king called Narakasuran , ruler of Pragjyotispur (a province to the south of Nepal)who  after defeating Lord Indran had  snatched away the magnificent earrings of Aditi,the mother Goddess and imprisoned many celestials in his harem. Lord Krishna killed the asura (demon) and liberated the imprisoned celestials and also recovered those precious  earrings of Aditi . As a symbol of that victory Lord Krishna smeared his forehead with the asura’s blood. Krishna returned home in the very early morning of the Narakachturdashi day. They massaged scented oil to his body and gave him a bath to wash away the blood from his body .Since then the custom of taking an oil bath before sunrise on this day has become a traditional practice. This is symbolic of the physical cleansing which is necessary for spiritual cleansing so that one can realize god.

May this Deepavali bring Happiness, peace & prosperity to you and your loved ones.

Have a wonderful festival of lights.

About Naufal Khan

Naufal Khan was the Publisher at ADISHAKTI MEDIA and the editor-in-chief of the South African Indian news service Indian Spice. Khan was former Sunday Times journalist and also an occult fiction and non-fiction writer with several published titles.