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Deepavali, the festival of Light, basis and ways of celebrations!
The ways of celebrations of Deepavali
The colorful light festival Deepavali unfolded in India and elsewhere where Indians reside. It is one of the most important festivals celebrated in India. Even within India, this festival is celebrated in different ways in different states of India. While the South Indians celebrate it with gaiety, the North Indian, especially the business community celebrates it as “Lakshmi Puja”, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. The business community actually opens a new account book on Deepavali day. While varieties of sweets are at display, in shops along with other items, savories too are sold in variety. In Tamilnadu and Karnataka, people take early oil bath before sunrise and wear new dresses purchased for the occasion. On the eve of Deepavali, the new dresses along with sweets and savories are kept in the prayer room. In the early morning after bath, people wear new dresses, eat sweets and savories, propitiate before the elders. For children and young persons, the entire day is spent in bursting crackers, displaying varieties of colorful crackers. Legend say that the cruel demon was killed on this day by the Lord and Krishna released many young women kept in prisons by the demon. While dying at Lord’s hand, the demon asked one last boon. This day should be remembered as “Naraka Chathurthi”. People should celebrate his death by taking bath, wearing new dresses, eating sweets and bursting crackers.
Hence from ancient time, this celebration gained prominence. While for Karalites, Onam is the main festival, the people of Andhra celebrate “Sankaranthi”, the harvest festival during mid-January.
Another episode which heralded this festival is on this holy day, Sri Rama returned from his forest stay for fourteen years. It was grand celebration for the people of Ayodhya since they have missed his presence for fourteen long years. Actually Sri Rama had to be coroneted as the heir apparent to the Kingdom of Ayodhya. But due to sad turn of events, he had to forgo the Kingdom and leave for forest due to his step mother Kaikeyi’s demands to King Dasaratha! The epic Ramayana detail the entire episode in minute detail.
How the festival is connected to Rama?
Hence this day is associated with the life of two main incarnations Rama and Krishna! Since many Indians are staying in many overseas countries due to employment and business, they celebrate this day at those locations. It is no wonder that Trump’s wife celebrated the festival with Indian community! The very name bring into memory “Light”. Actually lot of earthen lamps are lit and kept around the houses to indicate that light removes all darkness from out dwellings. Many varieties of crackers emit different colors of light and the sky is studded with star like crackers.
From ancient time, Indian sages started their prayers with three significant utterances. Among the prayers, the middle one connotes, “Lead me from darkness to Light”. They realized that human life on earth is surrounded by ignorance which is also termed as darkness. Their prayer is significant! Darkness could be removed only by Light. Imagine a deep cave which is dark for thousands of years. Even a small candle will light the interior a little, though the cave remained in darkness all the time. The teachings of scriptures, sages and saints are akin to lighting the inner cave of our heart which is surrounded by many layers of veils like lust, anger, pride and other pests. Hence in all temples, mosques and churches, light is lit in a symbolic manner! None would like to dwell in dark houses where there is no light. People naturally fear darkness. Light gives them confidence!
Krishna kills the demon
The significance of Light and Sun on earth!
Zoroastrians worship light. Imagine for a while, if there is no sun in the sky, how we can lead the life. Plants, animals, insects and human beings receive light and heat by which all cells receive their nutrients by various processes. Plants receive sunlight and by photosynthesis produce food through their green leaves. It is the sun which is the cause of rainfall throughout the globe! The entire ocean receives sunlight on the surface which is nutrient for the various kinds of algae and other micro-organism. Evaporation of surface water is the cause of ultimate rain over earth! Again rainfall is a must for the growth of grains which sustain man. Animals eat the fodder left after the harvest! Thus for the ‘food cycle’ Sun is the primal cause. The powerful chant Gayathri is aimed at invoking the blessings of Sun God for refining our intelligence to know the Supreme Being!
Even those who are engaged in evil activities need light, heat and water for their sustenance. Though the sun god is unconcerned how its light and heat is utilized by various beings on earth, without the sun shining, the earth will become so cold that no living being can survive on earth! Hence worship of Light is the main purpose of this grand festival in India.
My heartiest Deepavali greetings to one and all! May darkness flee from our life and let the earth prosper with peace and harmony!