Diwali       (23    

 Diwali (23 rd October)
From Darkness to light …
Diwali, a.k.a Deepavali is a major Indian festival spread over 5 days that is very
significant in Hinduism known as the "Festival of Lights," it symbolizes the
victory of good over evil, and lamps (diyas) are lit as a sign of celebration and hope
for humankind. "Regardless of the explanations one prefers, what the festival of lights really
stands for today is a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship
and goodwill, and a religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple — and some
not so simple — joys of life."
Before we continue with this most humble rendition of Deepavali by the mercy of
our most loving and merciful Mother Sarasvati we yet again read in the papers
and we have received so many calls and emails on “When
celebrate Diwali this year”. I am sure you have heard of this and we in this article
are going to explain it in a rather simple yet dignified manner. Please note as you
have read from the many articles that we send out we are totally against
segregation we are fully for congregation regardless of one's color, creed, dialect,
race and whatever else that is distasteful. OK to cut a rather long and tedious story short let’s get to the bottom of the Diwali
issue. Please hold on to your seats because the information that you are going to
read is going to be rather shocking to say the least. Firstly there is no such word
as Hindu (Hinduism). In the Vedic sastras there is no mention of the word
Hinduism. The proper term is Sanathan Dharma (the Eternal way of life). Note I
didn’t say religion because Sanathan Dharma not a religion it’s an exact science.
There where two different cultures approximately 1500 years ago that was
residing on the opposite sides of the INDUS River. Indus River if you don’t know
cuts right through the middle of “modern” Pakistan. How the word Hindu came
about is that the Muslim people from the west side of the INDUS River could not
pronounce the word “indus” they said “hindus”. What I mean is that when they
called the people that stayed across of the Indus River they called them Hindus
and thus the name stuck. Hence from about 1500 years ago you would notice the
word Hindu being mentioned rather often. (Stay
I am
). We Sanathanists have adapted a lot of
things the Muslims do which is not really Sanathan. So Sanathan Dharma
encompasses those of who speak Tamil, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Telegu etc. Now
what really upset me is when the so called “elders” of the societies started using
the term Tamil, Hindi, Gujarati for their own propagation. These are just dialects
that’s all and these days it has become a platform to promote one’s ego. And mind
you a really megaginomous ego. Oh “I am Tamil or Hindi”… where did “aham
brahmaasmi (from the Brhad –
Upanishad 1.4.10) –“ I am not this body I
am spirit soul ” – (The Soul b.t.w has no creed, caste, dialect, race etc attached to
it) go to? It’s so frustrating to see people fight amongst themselves when they
should be promoting peace, harmony and congregation amongst fellow
Sanathanists rather than confusion, instability and segregation. So you see there
is no Tamil Diwali or Hindi Diwali. Diwali is celebrated over 5 days but especially
on Amavasya (new moon) night which falls on the 23rd October. I am sure you are
shocked now aren’t you. Well we shall further discuss this below… To avoid
confusion for now we shall for the time being call ourselves Hindus. When is Diwali this year:­ Deepavali is celebrated over a period of 5 days
beginning from the 21st to 25th October. Amavasya (New Moon) starts on
Wednesday the 22nd October @ 23h04 and ends on 23 rd October @ 23h55. Hence the
darkest night of Kartik (Amavasya ­ New/No Moon) falls on both the 22 nd and 23rd
albeit on the 23rd October the dark moon ends at 23h55. Officially though
Amavasya falls on the 23rd as when the sunrises on the 23rd Amavasya tithi (Vedic
day) is transiting hence this day becomes Amavasya (New Moon) day. The puja
and havan etc should be performed within the times provided in this paragraph. A
Vedic day starts at any time in a Gregorian day, and a Gregorian day starts and
ends at midnight.
Because Diwali falls over 5 days, one can conclude that that one is free to observe
Diwali on any of the 5 days depending on which of the significance one attaches to
it, or one may observe all five days. The more the better I say.
Diwali is one of the most popular and eagerly awaited Hindus festivals around the
world. Hindus regard it as a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen
family and social relationships. For Hindus it is one of the most important
festivals, and beginning of the year in some Hindu calendars.
The Deepavali lights represent the time when Shree Raam came back from the
forest, and all in Ayodyhya lit lamps to welcome their most beloved Lord back
home after fourteen years of exile. Many do believe that when the lamps are lit
this helps Mother Lakshmi find her way into people's homes. Celebrations focus on
lights and lamps, particularly traditional dipa or deeya (earthen lamp). Diwali is a
colloquial name used in North India, while the festival is formally called Deepavali
in South India. The Sanskrit word Deepavali means an array of lights that stands
for victory of brightness over darkness. As the knowledge of Sanskrit diminished,
the name was popularly modified to Diwali, especially in northern India. In South
India, Diwali does not coincide with the beginning of a new year as South Indians
Hindus follow a different calendar, the Shalivahana calender while in North India
Hindus follow the Vikrama calendar, where it falls on the night of the new moon
in the month of Kartik (this year this day falls on the 23rd October).
Hindus find cause to celebrate this festival for different reasons:
It commemorates the killing of Narakasura, an evil demon who created havoc and
was killed by Lord Krishna Himself. Before Narakasura's death, he requested a
boon from his mother (Mother Earth), that everyone should celebrate his death
with colorful light.
According to the Skanda Purana, Mother Parvati observed 21 days of austerity
starting from ashtami of shukla paksha (eighth day of the waxing period of moon)
to get half of the body of her dear husband Lord Shiva. This vrat (austerity) is
known as Kedhara Vrata. Deepavali is the completion day of this austerity. This is
the day Lord Shiva accepted Mother Parvati into the left half of his form and
appeared as Ardharishvara.
Diwali also celebrates the return of Shree Ramachandra, King of Ayodhya, with
His wife Sita and brother Shree Lakshmanji to Ayodhya from a war in which He
killed the demon king Ravana. People lit oil lamps along the way to light Their
path in the darkness.
In Bhavishyottara and Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Diwali is associated with Bali
Maharaja, who is allowed to return to earth once a year.
The Five days of Diwali
Diwali is celebrated over five days in most of India. All the days except Diwali are
named using the designation in the Indian calendar. A lunar half­month is 15
days. Diwali as a new­moon day marks the last day of a 15­day period. Diwali
being festival of lights, across India people celebrate it via symbolic diyas or
kandils (colorful paper lanterns) as an integral part of Diwali decorations.
1) Dhan­trayodashi or
October ): Dhan means "wealth" and
Trayodashi means "13th day". Thus, as the name implies, this day falls on the
13th day of the second half of the dark lunar month. Akash Deepa Dhan is
performed on this day.
AKASH DEEP DHAN PUJA PROPER:­ This puja/prayer is dedicated to the
Supreme couple Shree Lakshmi­Narayana/Vishnu. It is performed in the evening
(after sunset). (Credit:­ Some of the info on Akash Deep Dhan provided by S. Mewa) Requirements for this special Puja are as follows:­ 8 small clay lamps (diya) with
oil or ghee & wicks ­ for Mother Lakshmi Devi. 1 large Clay lamp (diya) with oil or
ghee & a wick ­ for Lord Narayan/Vishnu. One small lota Milk, 9 betel leaves, 3
whole flowers, Sweets (like Jalebi, Laddo, Channa Magaj, etc), Chandan
(Sandalwood paste).
PROCEDURE / PREPARATION :­ In a large rectangular tray, arrange the 9 betel leaves and lamps like the picture on the next page. EAST
Now dot the outside of each diya with chandan. Place the small clay lamps on the
betel leaves, in a circle in 8 directions and the large clay lamp in the centre of the
tray. Place the flower petals, sweets and a small lota milk on the tray. Next light
the diyas inside the house or outside. Next take the tray outside one's home and in
the open area and place in a clean area under the skies. Now recite the following
mantra a few times or if you have a favored Lakshmi­Narayan mantra you can
chant that mantra. Om Shree Hreem Kleem Lakshmee­Naaraayanaaye Namah
While chanting the above mantra offer the milk on a clean place. Leave the tray
outside, overnight ­ the following morning pick up the tray and keep the puja
items under a tree. The 8 Diyas that are offered are to the 8 forms of the Supreme Goddess Lakshmi­
devi. The eight types kinds of wealth are associated with Mother Lakshmi and
they are: 1. Adi Lakshmi:­ The Main Goddess 2. Dhanya Lakshmi:­ Granary Wealth 3. Dhairya Lakshmi:­ Wealth of Patience 4. Gaja Lakshmi:­ Elephants, symbols of wealth 5. Santhana Lakshmi:­ Wealth of Progeny
6. Vijaya Lakshmi:­ Wealth of Victory 7. Vidya Lakshmi:­ Wealth of Knowledge 8. Dhana Lakshmi:­ Monetary Wealth THE DHANWANTARI PUJA (Dhan Teras) Dhan Trayodashi is also performed
Dhanteras or Dhantrayodashi is observed two days before Diwali in many parts of
North India. The day is dedicated to Lord Dhanvantari, the physician of the
Celestials. There is no straight forward answer to what to do on Dhan Teras or
how to observe Dhanteras, as the rituals and celebrations vary from region to
region in India. But Dipika is providing a general idea of what Hindu's do on
Dhanteras. Dhanteras is considered a highly auspicious day to commence with
new purchases and investments. Most complete their Diwali shopping on the day.
The first lamps of Diwali are lit on the day as this day as well. Some Hindus hang
up paper lanterns with festoons and send out the messages of the arrival of
Diwali. Dhanteras is not all about material wealth it is also a time to develop
spiritual wealth and family bonding. All family members arrive at ancestral home
on this day. Grandparents and parents wait for the day as sons, daughters and
grand children arrive from distant places. Dhanteras Puja constitutes the
worshipping of Lord Dhanvantari on Dhanteras to ensure good health and
freedom from of illness and the like, since the Lord is the physician of the
For the Puja proper:­ After having a bath proceed to your prayer place and then sit
facing east wards. Have all the requirements for the Puja arranged beforehand on
a tray. On your tray you should have the following:­ 1 large tray (to place all your
puja items on that tray), another large rectangular tray, 1 banana leaf the size of
your rectangular tray, 1 small Ganesh murti/picture, the laminated picture of
Lord Dhanvantari (given above), a small bowl of sweet rice, a small
lota/chumbu/cup add water with a small spoon, 3 incense sticks, one incense
holder, 1 block of camphor, 1 box matches, a small clay lamp which should be
placed on a saucer, 5 yellow flowers, a clay lamp on saucer lamp, 100g uncooked
raw rice, 5 betel leaves, 3 turmeric sticks, 1 yellow flower garland.
Next pour a little water into your hand from your small lota and sip it three times
chanting "Om Vishnu" (Wash your hands after each Om Vishnu chant). Now wipe
your hands. Anoint your third eye (the place between your eyebrows) with a
chandan dot. Now offer Lord Ganesha 4 drops of water, chandan dot, sprinkle rice
and then flower petals, offer one stick of incense (turn the incense around the
murti/picture 7 times in a clockwise direction, and place in the incense holder,
next offer the clay lamp on a saucer (which has a small piece of camphor in it, light
it) and turn the lamp around the murti/picture 7 times in a clockwise direction,
offer a spoon of sweet rice on a betel leaf and then finally offer the clay lamp (7
times around the picture) to end.
Next pray to Lord Dhanvantari on this day of Dhanteras that being the Presiding
Deity of health, that may He grant you (and your family) good health and freedom
from of illness and the like. Now garland the picture of Lord Dhanvantari and
then offer the Lord 4 drops of water, chandan dot, sprinkle rice and then flower
petals, offer one stick of incense (turn the incense around the picture 7 times in a
clockwise direction, and place in the incense holder, next offer the clay lamp on a
saucer (which has a small piece of camphor in it, light it), then offer the 3 whole
hurdi sticks and turn the lamp around the picture 7 times in a clockwise direction,
offer a spoon of sweet rice on a betel leaf and then finally offer the clay lamp (7
times around the picture) to end.
2) Naraka Chaturdasi
nd October ): Chaturdasi is the fourteenth day on which
demon Narakasura was killed. (The katha is given below). It signifies the victory
of good over evil and light over darkness. In South India, this is the actual day of
festivities. Also the Yam­deepa Daan is also performed on this night.
Yama­deepa­daan:­ Yama­deepa­daan lamps are kept burning through the night
in reverential adoration to Lord Yamaraj (the Lord Of Death) ­ and prayers offered
to him to keep away death and despair. A very interesting Katha about this day is
attached to the sixteen year old son of King Hima. As per his janma­kundali (birth
horoscope) he was doomed to die by a snake­bite on the fourth day of his marriage.
On that fateful fourth day of his marriage his young wife did not allow him to
sleep. She laid all the ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a big heap at
the entrance of her husband's palatial room and lighted infinite numbers of lamps
all over the place. After all these, she went on telling stories and singing songs so
that her husband is not able to sleep. When Shree Yamaraj, arrived there
appearing in form of a Serpent his eyes got blinded by the dazzle of those brilliant
lights and he could not enter the Prince's chamber. So he climbed on top of the
heap of the ornaments and coins and sat there whole night listening to the
melodious songs. In the morning he quietly went away. Thus the young wife saved
her husband from the clutches of death. Since then this day has been came to be
known as the day of "Yama­deepa­daan" and lamps are kept burning throughout
the night in remembering Lord Yamaraj, the presiding deity of Death. Thirteen
lamps made of wheat flour or clay lamps and lit with oil are placed outside the
house, facing southwards (the direction of Lord Yamaraja’s abode), in the evening.
A lamp is never kept facing southwards except on this day. Then, reciting the
following mantra one should offer obeisance: "I offer these thirteen lamps to the
son (Lord Yama) of the Sun deity (Surya), so that He liberates me from the
clutches of death and bestows His blessings upon me."
3) Diwali­Amavasya
(23 October
): The actual day of Diwali, is celebrated on the
third day of the festival, when the moon completely wanes and total darkness sets
in the night sky. *** There always seem to be some conflicting festival dates when
the Hindu calendars are published esp. with regards to Diwali... Let me explain.
Vedic times are totally different from the Gregorian times, which are followed by
the westerners. Fortunately in 2014 Diwali's date is rather straight­forward as
compared to other years. The Vedic day starts at sunrise and ends sunrise the
next morning. But the Gregorian day starts at midnight and ends the following
midnight. Now Diwali is celebrated on the 15th day (Amavasya) of the dark moon
in October/November. This year the 15th day (Amavasya) starts at 23h04 on the
22nd and ends at 23h55 on the 23rd. So the dark moon night will be on the 23rd
October.Officially though Amavasya falls on the 23 rd as when the sunrises on the
23rd Amavasya tithi (Vedic day) is transiting hence this day becomes Amavasya
(New Moon) day. Hindus wake up way before dawn as early as 04h00 in the morning, have a
fragrant oil bath and wear new clothes. They light small lamps all around the
house and draw elaborate rangolis (patterns) outside their homes. They perform
pujas with offerings to Shree Sita­Raam/Radha­Krishna/Lakshmi­Narayana, as
He liberated the world from the demon Narakasura on this day. Taking a bath
before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky is equivalent to taking a
bath in the Ganga River. Hence, when people greet each other in the morning,
they ask "Have you performed your Ganga Snaanam?” (Well most of us are not in
India so what you can do in this case purchase Ganga Water from your nearest
puja shop and in a bucket pour a cap of Ganga water from the bottle and fill the
bucket with normal water and have a bath… it’s the same thing as bathing in
Mother Ganga herself). As this is a day of rejoicement, many will have very
elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet family and friends. In the evening,
lamps are again lit and Mother Lakshmi is worshipped and offered special dishes.
This being a no moon day (New moon/Amavasya), many will offer tarpana
(offerings of water and sesame seeds) to their ancestors. This is from the Garuda
Purana. Like Christmas in the West, Diwali is very much a time for buying and
exchanging gifts.
th 4) Govardhan
Puja or also called Annakut (24 October), is celebrated as the day
Shree Krishna defeated Lord Indradev. For Annakut a mountain of food (normally
halva) is decorated symbolizing Govardhan Mountain lifted by Lord Krishna. On
this day husbands present gifts to their wives. (A detailed artilce on Govardhan
Puja is provided on www.dipika.org.za)
th 5) Bhayiduj
(25 October), on this day, brothers and sisters meet to express their
love and affection for each other. Most Indian festivals bring together families;
Bhaiduj brings together sisters and brothers, and is a significant festive day for
them. This festival is ancient, and pre­dates 'Raksha Bandhan' another brother­
sister festival being celebrated today.
The celebrations vary in different regions:
In South India, Naraka Chaturdashi is the main day. The main festival in North India is on Amavasya evening with Lakshmi
Puja which is followed by lighting of oil lamps around the house. Three Diwali Kathas …
Three of the Kathas of Diwali show the triumph of Good over Evil, and tell of the
destruction of two monsters that preyed on humanity. The killing of Narakaasura:­ Narakasura was the evil king of Pragjyotishpur, near
Nepal. He ruled with a reign of terror, abducted 16,000 daughters of the deva, and
stole the earrings of Aditi, mother of the devas. The devas asked Lord Krishna for
help, and after a mighty battle He killed the demon, freed the girls, and recovered
the earrings. The rescue of the 16,000 girls is the origin of the story that Shree
Krishna had 16,000 wives. After His victory Lord Krishna returned very early in
the morning and was bathed and massaged with scented oils. Taking an early
morning bath with oil is still a Diwali tradition. To read the full katha of the
killing of Narakaasura please do visit www.dipika.org.za and the entire Katha is
The killing of the demon Ravana: ­ Ravana, who had ten arms and ten heads, was
the wicked king of the island of Shree Lanka, who kidnapped the wife of Shree
Raam. Shree Raam had been in exile for 14 years because of a disagreement as to
whether He or His brother should be the next king in Ayodhya. After a great
battle Shree Raam killed Ravana demon and recovered Mother Sita. Shree Raam's
return with Mother Sita to Ayodhya and His subsequent coronation as king is
celebrated at Diwali. When Shree Raam and Mother Sita first returned to
Ayodhya it was a dark moonless night and they couldn't see where they were
going. Their people put little lamps outside their houses so that the new king and
queen could find Their way, thus beginning the tradition of the festival of lights. The Katha of Bali Maharaj:­ In the Srimad Bhagavatam 8th canto chapters 15­23
narrates the katha of Bali Maharaj and Lord Vamanadeva… You can view/read
the entire katha on www.dipika.org.za in detail. But FYI we shall briefly narrate
the katha… Bali Maharaj was born in a demon family and due to his penance he
ruled over material creation including Mother Lakshmi. In the absence of
Lakshmi Mata the world was deprived of their basic needs and suffered
immensely. The devas approached Lord Vishnu who didn’t need much coaxing to
incarnate to save the world… The Lord incarnated as the son of Aditi­devi and the
great sage Kashyapa Muni. Then the Lord known as Vamana (dwarf) deva
approached Bali maharaja for three steps of land which Bali Maharaja
immediately agreed despite being asked not to do so by his Guru. The Lord first
step covered the entire surface of the world, and by extending His body He covered
the entire sky. With His hands He covered all directions, and with His second
footstep He covered the entire upper planetary system. Therefore there was no
vacant place where He could take His third footstep. The Lord accepted Bali
Maharaja’s defeat because he couldn’t deliver on his promise and was sent to
planet Sutala. When this happened Mother Lakshmi and all the Devi’s and Deva’s
were released and order restored. This happened on Diwali day.
How to observe this extremely auspicious day: ­ After you have taken a bath early
in the morning and wearing clean clothes go to your prayer place and offer
incense, lamp and flowers (all seven times in a clockwise around the picture of
Shree Sita­Raam. After that all the food that has been prepared should be offered
first to Shree Sita­Raam. Leave the unoffered food before Their Lordships to bless
and after about 10 minutes remove from the prayer place and then that prashad
(blessed food) is for all to eat. But most importantly enjoy these 5 days. These five
days one should not consume any meat.
A bit of controversy to end. Many will email us asking but we cannot take 5 days
off from work. Yes we are aware of that. I cannot understand why this is such a
big issue. You can choose any of the 5 days. Yes many will choose the 3rd but we
got to look at the bigger picture and that this is a time for joy and celebrations. We
should be proud other religions have one main day we have 5 main days to
celebrate Diwali. Wow its makes you feel great to be a Hindu now. J
DISCLAIMER:­ Do note that Dipika is not affiliated to any Hindu group or
organization. We at Dipika choose to remain an independent repository of
spiritual advice. We appreciate that there are variances between organisations
and humbly request that if our views differ from yours that you respect our
decision not to conform to the prescripts of your particular organisation. We
remain committed to spiritual advice which is based on scripture.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. We pray that this
article will assist you in some way and we also pray that it helps you to appreciate
the beauty and remarkable foresight of our ancient Hindu culture. We wish to
educate all readers and demystify the path of Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma).
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hope that the articles serve as a reference to you and your family when you need
clarification of certain topics. Jai Hind... Jai Shree Radha Krsna.
Please do visit our Website to receive more free information about our beautiful culture
Compiled for the upliftment of Sanathan Dharma Narottam das & Arjun Nandlal
(Credit:­ Some of the info on Akash Deep Dhan provided by S. Mewa) Email [email protected]