Friday, 23 October 2009

Spiritual Science Smiles

A disciple of Shyama Charan Lahiri, Chandra Mohan, had just got his medical degree. He went to his Master and placed himself at his feet. The Master blessed him and asked him quite a few questions about medical science. Then he said to his disciple, "Can you tell me if I am alive?" Immediately the Master lay down and stopped his heartbeat. The young man who had just got his degree could not feel the Master's pulse or heartbeat. He was astonished. There were other men there and they also could not feel anything. Shyama Charan Lahiri was absolutely like a dead body.This went on for ten or fifteen minutes. Then suddenly Shyama Charan Lahiri opened his eyes and said, "You people should always remember that far beyond medical science is spiritual science. The medical world will never be able to fathom the spiritual mysteries. But these spiritual mysteries are not mysteries as such. They are the real realities of normal people, and normal people are those who believe in God implicitly."
Spirituality invents, medical science discovers. This invention of spirituality is in perfect harmony with God's omniscient Vision and omnipotent Reality. Spirituality is the foundation of the life-reality-building. This building has quite a few floors: science, art, philosophy, religion and so forth. If there is no foundation, there can be no edifice. It is the spirituality-foundation that supports all the floors and, at the same time, transcends the capacity of even the upper floors. It is consciously one with the root-reality of God's Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.

Friday, 16 October 2009

தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்த்துகள்


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Some more information about Lahiri Maharishi

After initiating Shyama Charan, Master Babaji, the Lion Yogi, said to his student, Initiation is of paramount importance; therefore, I have initiated you. But now, in three days time, I want you to leave for your home. You have to go back to work. Your family needs you badly.”
Shyama Charan cried and cried. He did not want to go. His Master consoled him and said, No, you have to do something most special for God while staying with your family and leading the life of a householder. But I assure you, whenever you are in need of me, just invoke me, and I shall come to see you and bless you.”
With a heavy heart, Shyama Charan left for home. On his way, he stayed for two or three days at the home of some of his friends. His friends said to him, “Do you believe in occult power or spiritual power? We don't believe in it. There was a time when Indian sadhus had occult power, but now those days are gone. People who claim that they have occult powers are all fakes.”
Shyama Charan said, “What do you mean? I have just been initiated by a great spiritual Master. I know how much occult power he has.”
His friends did not believe him, so he said, “If you don't believe me, I can prove it. You just leave this room, allow me to meditate for a few minutes and I assure you my Master will come here.”
Lahiri's friends had no faith in occult power, but they were all curious, so they left. When his friends left the room, he invoked his Master most soulfully. In fifteen minutes’ time Babaji came into the room in his subtle body, and then he assumed his physical body.
Shyama Charan was overjoyed to see his Master inside the room, but Babaji scolded and insulted him mercilessly. He said, “Look at your audacity! I came from such a great distance, only to please your curiosity and to challenge your atheist friends. I warn you, I will never, never do this kind of thing again. I told you that whenever you invoke me I shall come, but I am revoking my promise to you. Now I wish to say that whenever I want to see you, only then shall I come to you, wherever you are.”
Shyama Charan cried and cried for forgiveness. Babaji said, “I have forgiven you, but never invoke me any more to display my occult power or to display your devotion. Only when I feel the need shall I come to see you. In the inner world you can invoke me, you can feel my presence, but I don’t want to show my physical presence this way any more.”
Shyama Charan bowed down to Babaji and said, “Now that you have come, O Master, out of your infinite Compassion, please, please give me a boon.”
“What is your boon?” Babaji asked.
“I want my friends to come and see you,” said Shyama Charan, “so that they will believe in your occult power.”
The Master laughed at him, saying, “Yes, and also in your invocation-power. Go and tell them to come.”
Shyama Charan opened the door and his friends came in. They were so surprised to see a sadhu with long hair and a long beard seated in a lotus position. Babaji did not talk to them, but he smiled at everyone and everybody bowed down to him. Shyama Charan brought some food for the Master and the Master ate in front of them. Then Babaji asked everyone to leave for a few minutes. When they returned, he had disappeared.
The display of occult power or spiritual power,does not lead one to the path of wisdom.It only increases your ego which you are trying to shred along the way. Miracle-power does not and cannot change humanity's face. Humanity's face can be transformed only by inner awakening, inner dedication and surrender to God. Curiosity is not spirituality. An inner awakening is the only true spirituality which God appreciates lovingly, compassionately and unreservedly. For God's universal Oneness, universal Love, one should look into one's self and stop pleasing others or try to change their ways.Each one has a different path for the same destination and one should find it on their own. gurus are like the walking stick they are not the vehicles for transporting you into eternity.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Shyama Charan Lahiri's Initiation

One evening, Shyama Charan Lahiri was roaming at the foot of the Himalayas while on a short visit to the area, when he heard a voice saying, “Shyama Charan, Shyama Charan.” He was surprised to see a sadhu calling him from a distance. The sadhu approached him and said, “Don't you recognise me, my child, my son?” Then he uttered the name of Shyama Charan’s father and grandfather. Even then Shyama Charan could not recognise him. The sadhu showed him abundant affection and led him into a cave and showed him a trident, a sacred water pot, a lion skin, a tiger skin and some beads. He said, “Can you recognise these? They are all yours,” but Shyama Charan could not recognise them. The sadhu then placed his hand on Shyama Charan’s spine. Immediately Shyama Charan came to realise that those were indeed his belongings.The sadhu said to him, “My name is Babaji, my son. You were my dear student in your previous incarnation. You left the body at a very high stage of spiritual development. I want you to complete your spiritual life in this incarnation.”Shyama Charan bowed to his Master and cried and cried. He said that he would not go back to his wife and family, but Babaji said, “No, you have to return to them. God wants you to lead a family life and, at the same time, remain in your highest consciousness and guide householders in leading a better, higher and purer life. I shall initiate you in a few days’ time. As long as you remain near the Himalayas, come and see me every day.”Shyama Charan was overjoyed that his Master was going to initiate him. With a heart full of gratitude and delight, he left.A few days later Lahiri returned to the Master. Babaji said, “The time has come for me to initiate you, but before I do, you have to drink this liquid.”Shyama Charan drank a very large quantity of an oily liquid from an earthen jar. It caused him to vomit and empty himself many, many times. Then Babaji said, “Now you are purified, my son. I am giving you puri, halwa and other sweetmeats. Eat them to your heart’s content.” Shyama Charan ate them voraciously. Then the Master initiated him compassionately, unreservedly and unconditionally.
One's soul takes several births to fulfill its wishes and to reach its goal.We always look at the smaller picture and think that is it but the soul is in search of its eternity and by our actions we should help the soul to reach its goal if we deviate from its path the soul is in a mournful mood and thus leading us into falsehood.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Great Spiritual Master

I was writing about the great masters in my other blog,then something inside me said that I had to share it with the readers who have already the knowledge of kriya yoga. It is my duty to put forth these stories of the great masters and the lesson that we could learn from them.I have often admired the simplicity and their humility.such great souls are admist us today and they will remain with us forever.Hope you also feel the tranquility that I feel while knowing about such great masters.I have read alot of Maharishi Lahiri and one incident which fascinates me even now is the photographic incident.Here it is for the benefit of the readers.

Shyama Charan Lahiri was dead against anyone’s taking a photograph of him. But since his intimate students were repeatedly requesting permission to take his photograph, he once agreed. The students called in a photographer, and like a child the Master asked him questions. The photographer was deeply honoured, so he taught the Master the ABCs of photography.
But when it was time for the Master’s picture to be taken, the photographer could not see him in the viewfinder. He aimed the camera at the Master, but the Master was not visible. When he focused on others, he saw them perfectly, but when he focused on Shyama Charan, there was nothing visible at all.
Finally the frustrated photographer said to the Master, “It is impossible. I can’t take your picture. I don’t know what you are doing.”
The Master smiled and said, “All right, I shall behave myself. Now you can take it.” This time when the photographer looked through the viewfinder, Shyama Charan Lahiri was clearly visible, so he snapped the picture. Then Shyama Charan Lahiri said to him, “Spirituality and spiritual power far surpass modern science. Just have faith in the Real, which is spirituality.”
That particular picture is an immortal picture, the most authentic and the highest picture taken of the Master. His students now worship in front of that picture.
Some spiritual Masters are not in favour of taking a photograph. They feel that since the body-reality is so transient, why pay any attention to it? There are other Masters who are of the opinion that a photograph does not represent a mere object, but can serve as an inspirational force and an elevating and illumining experience. These Masters feel the supreme necessity of seeing the highest reality inside the body-reality first, and then transforming the body-reality into the soul’s universal mission and transcendental vision. According to them, a photograph is not a mere piece of paper reflecting an outer face or appearance; it is an illumining revelation of what one inwardly is.
There are those who think the achievements of the world, in the world, are useless, and the world itself is useless, for it is unreal; therefore, they do not want to leave behind anything when they enter into the other world. But those who think of the world as the field of God-manifestation will strive to leave behind a transformed life and revelations of an immortal soul. Both parties are equally correct in their respective approaches to reality, according to the depth and height of their own realisation.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Lakshmi Pooja on Diwali day

Today's Post is about the lakshmi pooja to be performed on diwali day.The first and the foremost thing in Diwali Lakshmi puja procedure is the neatness. Puranas stated that Lakshmi resides there where neatness and cleanness exist. So, first of everything, make your home or the puja place neat. Draw some rangoli designs or the patterns to welcome Goddess Maha Lakshmi.

Diwali Laxmi Puja has a very simple procedure and the material required for pooja is also very easy to get for people of any economic status. Here is the list of material or accessories needed for Lakshmi Puja.
Silver coins or Gold coins or rupee coins
Suparis – 10 (betel nuts)
Akshata (consecrated rice)
Betel leaves (paan leaves) – 10
Coconut – 1 or more
A bronze pot with water (Fill the pot with holy water if possible)
Kumkum to shower on Goddess Lakshmi and to apply Tilak
Turmeric powder

agarbattis (incense sticks) (Dhoop sticks)

Procedures to perform Lakshmi Puja

Take a piece of cloth (red or yellow or green in colour) and spread it at the sanctified puja place. On the cloth, spread 9 mounds of rice and keep betel leaves with suparis on the top of the rice mounds. The nine betel leaves with suparis indicate the nine planets (Navagraha devatas).
You can keep a betel leaf and supari in the place of Ganesh or can place a Ganesh idol.
A pot has to be filled with water and adorned with betel leaves. Keep a coconut on the top of the water filled pot.
Now dress the pot with red cloth and tie a red thread around the pot. On the pot, draw four lines with kumkum. The four lines indicate the Chatur Vedas. Place kumkum for the pot.Now, the pot with all these decorations is referred as Kalash or Purna Kumbh which represents the Universal power (Supreme deity).
In Diwali Puja thali place some silver or golden or simply rupee coins. The coin is a direct form of wealth that is Goddess Lakshmi.
Now the actual puja begins. Take some water on your left hand and sprinkle on to yourself after purifying your hands.
Place a flower on your palm and take some akshata (consecrated rice) into your hand.
Chant the Gayatri Mantra for 3 times. You can skip this step as it is an optional one.
Now start Ganesh Puja. If you don’t know Ganesh puja procedure then simply install or visualize Ganesha in your heart, chant a sloka of Ganesh and offer some flowers and akshata to Ganesh idol or thebetel leaf with Supari representing Lord Ganesh.
In the same way pray to Lord Shiva. If you don’t know the simple Shiva puja procedure then you can chant a sloka of Lord Shiva.
Sprinkle some pure water on Kalash or Purna Kumbha. Apply some kumkum and shower akshata.
Offer a sweet and fruit to the Kalash. Treat the Kalash or Purna Kumbha as a guest and worship the sacred pot with utmost devotion. Kalash is considered as powerful as the Goddess. Follow the same puja procedure with the Navagrahas or the 9 planets or the 9 supari placed at the nine locations on the puja cloth. The same puja procedure is followed with the 4 directions. Sprinkle water towards 4 directions – North, South, East and West. This puja procedure of 4 directions represent 4 dishas of the Universe.
Perform the bath to silver and gold coins with milk (ksheerabhishekam), with water (Jalabhishekam), with gulal and with flowers (Pushpabhishekam). Then offer sweet recipe to the coins. It is believed that jingling coins would let Goddess Laxmi Devi to install in your pooja place.
Install or keep Goddess Lakshmi Maa in your heart and chant a mantra or sloka or stotra of Goddess Mahalakshmi and pray to her heartfully. If you know the stotras of Lakshmi Ashtottaram or Laxmi Shatanamavali, recite the stotras.
Now it’s the time to perform Aarti to Goddess Mahalaxmi. Light the Diya or camphor for Aarti. Ring the bell while singing Lakshmi Aarti.
After performing Aarti to Lakshmi Mata, keep Lakshmi Puja Thali at a safe place. Complete the whole puja to Lakshmi with devotion and dedication.
Keep your worries aside about any mistake you did unknowingly during the pooja procedure. Mantras to be recited:

"Om Sri Maha Lakshmyai Namah"

This simple mantra is often chanted by people in their day to day course of work. The chant simply means salutations to O great goddess Maha Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune and wealth. "Sarvagyay Sarvavarday Sarvadushtbhaydkree Sarvadukhaharay Devi Mahalakshmi Namostutay"

O divine Goddess Ma Lakshmi, nothing is hidden from you. You grant all favors to your children removing all miseries from their lives and on the other hand are fearsome for the evil. Accept my salutations O auspicious goddess.

"Padnaasanstithay Devi Parbrahmaswaroopeene Parmashree Jaganmatra Mahalakshmi Namostutay"

O mother Lakshmi you are like supreme Brahman and reside in the hearts of all your devotees. O Devi you are the mother of the entire Universe and to you I offer all my respects and salutations.

"Sthulsukshmay Maharodray Mahashakti MahodrayMahapapharay Devi Mahalakshmi Namostutay"

You know it all O mother goddess, nothing is hidden from you. O mother you are the one who removes all the sins and grant boons. O propitious goddess I bow to you, accept my salutations.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Diwali Celebrations around the world

The festival of Diwali has been celebrated for ages and grows in attraction by the year. Everyone enjoys the goodies, the shine, glamour, and the endless enthusiasm for living that suddenly grips people around this time. But there is much more to Diwali than feasting and merrymaking. Diwali is a holy tradition, not to be put in the shade by the lights. Deepawali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness. Celebrated joyously all over the country, it is a festival of wealth and prosperity. Deepawali is essentially a festival for householders. The preparations, the rituals, the entire celebration focuses on the home and family, spanning out to cover the community as a natural extension. Diwali is a festival synonymous with celebrations in India and among Indians all over the world, is an occasion for jubilation and togetherness. This is an occasion for young and the old, men and women, rich and poor - for everyone. Irrespective of their religious and economic background, the festival is celebrated throughout the country to ward off the darkness and welcome the light into their lives. At a metaphysical level, Deepawali is a festival signifying the victory of good over evil; the latter is destroyed and reduced to ashes by fireworks is the belief of the people. This festival is celebrated on a grand scale in almost all the regions of India and is looked upon mainly as the beginning of New Year. As such the blessings of Lakshmi, the celestial consort of Lord Vishnu are invoked with prayers. Diwali is also celebrated outside India mainly in Guyana, Fiji, Malaysia, Nepal, Mauritius, Myanmar, Singapore, United States, Srilanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Britain, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Africa, and Australia among the Hindus world over. Places as far as Southern America have record of celebrating Diwali. Diwali celebrations in Britain : The Indians are the second largest ethnic minority in Britain. To get rid of the feeling of missing their homeland, especially during festival times, the Indians here celebrate most of the festivals .The occasion is marked by visit to the local temple to worship the shrine of Lakshmi, which they have made for Diwali. Eating special sweets, burning of incense sticks, lighting the home and surroundings and the blowing of the conch shell follows the prayer session in the Lakshmi temple. The festival here is celebrated according to the Hindu solar calendar hence it falls in the months of October-November, amongst the cold, damp and windy months in Britain. Still the enthusiasm of the festival celebration makes the task of leaving small lamps on windowsills or by open doorways possible ignoring the chill. The lamps and diyas play their part in maintaining the atmosphere of Diwali at home.
Diwali celebrations in Guyana : Guyana, formerly known as British Guiana, is located on the northeast coast of South America. Guyana is 82,978 square miles in area and has a population of about 7,70,000. Hindus constitute 33% of Guyana's total population. The Co-operative Republic of Guyana in Southern America celebrates Diwali according to the Hindu Solar calendar. The day of the festival is declared as a national holiday in the official calendar of Guyana. The tradition of celebrating the festival is believed to have been brought to Guyana in the year 1853 by the first indentured people from India. The legends related to the festival are similar to that of India. The celebration of the festival includes, distribution of sweets, illuminating the inside and outside of the house, exchange of greetings, cleaning of houses and wearing of new clothes. The celebrations hold special significance for the people of Guyana. The distribution of sweet signifies the importance of serving and sharing whereas exchange of greeting cards denotes the goodwill of each other. The sweets distributed mainly consist of pera, barfi, and kheer. The tradition of wearing new cloth for the people of Guyana is significant especially in this festival. They believe that wearing new cloth is the symbol of healthy souls in healthy bodies. Cleaning of their homes and keeping them well illuminated in and outside is a practice meant to illuminate the road for Goddess Lakshmi so that while goddess Lakshmi visits their home she faces no problem of light as the diwali night is regarded as the darkest night of the year.
Diwali celebrations in Indonesia : The name Indonesia came from two Greek words: "Indos" meaning Indian and "Nesos" meaning islands. The majority of population follows Islam. Hindus constituent about 2% of Indonesia's total population. However, the Indonesian island of Bali is famous for celebrating the festival of Diwali, as a majority of the population here is that of Indians. It is one of the most revered festivals of the locals here. The celebration and rituals of the festival is mostly similar to that celebrated by their counterparts in India.
Diwali celebrations in Malaysia : Fascinating in its diversity, Malaysia has many mesmerizing charms and attractions. With a population of about 20 million, comprising of a harmonious multi-ethnic mix of Malays, Malaysia promises a colorful potpourri of cultural traditions. Most are based on the various religious practices, beliefs and traditions influencing the costumes, festivals, ceremonies and rituals. The Hindu community of Malaysia constitutes about 8% of its total population .The community celebrates Diwali as a symbol of triumph of good over evil. The Malaysian people call diwali as Hari Diwali. This festival is celebrated during the 7th month of the Hindu solar calendar. The south Indian traditional of oil bath precedes the festivities. The celebration includes visits to temples and prayers at household altars. Small lamps made from clay and filled with coconut oil and wicks are a common sight to signify the victory of Lord Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana, over the demon king Ravana. Diwali is celebrated almost all over the Malaysia except in Sarawak & Federal Territory of Labuan.
Diwali celebrations in Mauritius : Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean that lies to the east of Madagascar. This beautiful landmass is full of picturesque landscapes and enchanting spots. Mauritius accounts a 63% of Indian majority of which 80% follow Hinduism. Hence, celebration of almost all the Hindu festivals in this island is a common phenomenon. In Mauritius, Diwali celebration is an age-old tradition. It holds special significance for the natives, who believe that Diwali has been celebrated even long before the return of Lord Rama from 14 years of exile and his coronation as the king. The festival is marked by lightening of earthen lamps in rows making images out of the rows. Lakshmi is worshipped as the goddess of wealth and crackers are burnt to scare away evil spirits.
Diwali celebrations in Nepal : Nepal is a landlocked country nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. Nepal, a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society is the only Hindu Kingdom of the world. Diwali is celebrated here with the usual Hindu festivities and rituals. Diwali in Nepal is known as Tihar. Just like most places in India Diwali is celebrated here to honor the goddess of wealth and god of prosperity Lakshmi and Ganesh respectively. The festival of light falls in the months of October or November on the day of Amavasya - the darkest day of the year. The festival here continues for five days. Every day has its special significance. The first day is dedicated to cows as they cook rice and feed the cows believing that goddess Lakshmi comes on cows. The second day is for Dogs as the Vahana of Bhairava. Preparation of delicious food especially meant for the dog is a typical characteristic of the day. Lights and lamps are lit to illuminate the entire surrounding and some of the specialty items are prepared to mark the third day of the festival. Fireworks, Lamps and crackers are widely used. The fourth day is dedicated to Yama, the Hindu God of Death. He is prayed for long life. The fifth final day is Bhhaya Dooj dedicated for the brothers who are wished long life and prosperity by their sisters.
Diwali celebrations in South Africa : South Africa is located at the southern tip of the continent of Africa. The South African culture is a mix of variety of cultures. Asians in South Africa constitute two per cent of South Africa's population, and most are of Indian origin. Indians in South Africa are descended from indentured labourers who were brought by the British from India in the 19th century, mostly to work in sugar plantations or mines (especially, coal) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and later also from traders who emigrated to South Africa. A decade prior to the colonization by the United States of America, the nation had the largest immigrant Indian community in the world. Interestingly, Indian South Africans form the largest group in the world of people of Indian descent born outside India. At present, South Africa has almost one million immigrant Indians most of whom are concentrated in the eastern regions of Natal and Transvaal of the country. About 65% of Hindus, 15% of Muslims and 20% of Christians live in this area. Due to the majority of the Hindu population, a number of Hindu festivals are celebrated here. Naturally, Diwali also holds an important place in the festival calendar of the region. The celebration is more or less same to that in India. A new book on Indian indentured labourers reveals that the 2007 Diwali Celebrations in South Africa marked the 100th year of celebrations of the festival in the country.
Diwali celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago : Trinidad is the most southern of the Caribbean islands, lying only seven miles off the Venezuelan coast, is one of the most exciting, colorful islands of the West Indies. Considered as the land of the Humming Bird, Trinidad and Tobago has a good number of Indian population. For that reason, Hindu festivals, customs, traditions and observances forms an integral part of the society, which comprises the unique beauty of the twin island state. The Diwali celebration has a unique flavor here in the Caribbean island nation. Here 43 per cent of the 1.3 million populations are ethnic Indians. The Diwali celebrations are usually marked as an occasion to unify the nation that consists of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Indo-Trinidadians and Afro-Trinidadians. The festival day is regarded as a national holiday. The festival is also marked by scores of functions besides the usual rituals of the festivity. The functions and celebrations also have an official imprint as the Ministers of the Government also participate in the celebrations sometimes. The belief behind the festival is same as of India, which is, prevalence of good over evil. The celebrations continue for over a week and the headquarters of the National Council of Indian Culture at Diwali Nagar becomes the focal point.
Diwali Celebrations in the U.S:The celebrations may vary depending on the state and the Indian population living there. There are ceremonies organized in community halls for people to get together and enjoy the festivities. In the year 2007, the US House of Representatives had passed a resolution recognizing the spiritual, religious and historical importance of Diwali. This came like a welcome change for Indians living in the US for years, craving for Diwali sweets, and Diwali fireworks.As in India, in the US, Diwali is celebrated in honor of Lord Rama, the king who returned after 14 years of exile. Akin to celebrations in India houses are decorated with earthen lamps and these rows of light look spectacular in the dark. Temples in the US are also decorated with lights and colorful rangoli. In the evenings, people gather at a community hall where cultural programs are held.Fire crackers are burst and various competitions held. The competitions include ethnic dance, rangoli and other cultural events. Diwali sweets and snacks are distributed among family and friends.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Celebrations of Diwali in Different parts of India

Tracing back to the history of ancient India, Diwali was celebrated as the main harvest festival. But later it is being celebrated following the Hindu treatise. As per the Hindu almanac or Panjaka, Diwali is celebrated on Amavasya, the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of ipasi, i.e. October or November every year. But the main Diwali festival is a five day long ritual commences with Dhanwantari Triodasi . Second day of Diwali is referred as Naraka Chaturdasi. Third day is Amavasya or the main Diwali. Worship of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, is performed as according to the Hindu mythology Lakshmi was incarnated on this day, the new moon day of the Kartik month. Fourth day is known as Bali Padyami. It is believed that Bali would come out on this day from Pathala Loka to rule Bhuloka as such a boon was given by Lord Vishnu. The fifth or last day of Diwali is known as Yama Dvitiya.
Let us now see the different ways in which this sparkling festival is celebrated in different parts of the country.
Andhra Pradesh: In North India, Diwali is usually celebrated during the evenings with fireworks and diyas. However, in Andhra Pradesh, the festivities start out at the crack of dawn and carry on well into the night. The state sure knows how to celebrate! Most people make the trip to the local temple along with their families to seek the blessings of their respective Gods. The night sky is soon lit up with a scintillating array of fireworks and crackers notch up the noise level by a few decibels. People decorate their homes much like the Hyderabadi royalty would have done all those centuries ago. There are no limits set when it comes to Diwali. Homes are lit up with hundreds of diyas and colorful Diwali Rangolis (link) adorn the doorway. For the Children it’s a lot like Christmas in western countries for they get new clothes to wear, delicious food to gorge on and for once nobody ticks them off for making too much noise. In Hyderabad, there is a unique tradition of bathing a buffalo on Diwali day. Another custom involves decorating homes with paper figures. Festivities cut across boundaries to move on from the small villages to the big towns, for almost a month before Deepawali. Sales of expensive silk saris, jewelry and ornaments, household goods go up. From the poor to the rich, everyone indulges in shopping for the biggest shopping spree of the year. Sweets, which are an integral part of any festival in Andhra Pradesh, are prepared in homes as well as bought from shops for exchange. This festival is full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships or ancient traditions.
Assam: Diwali Celebrations in Assam usually involve, but are not limited to the lighting of the traditional diyas, followed by gorging on the delicious Diwali Mithais and of course performing the ritual Aarti. The whole family then celebrates with fireworks providing the entertainment and symbolizing the victory of good over evil, reminding people why this festival of lights (link) is celebrated. In Assam a lot of emphasis is laid on lights and particularly the symbolic message behind it. Thus all the houses are lit up with countless flickering lamps and electrical lights. Worshipping Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity and watching the fireworks is an essential part of the usual Diwali festivities. . Beautiful lamps are hung outside homes that are symbolic of the spiritual light dispelling evil and the darkness of ignorance. Doorways are decorated with torans or flower garlands with mango leaves and marigolds. Diwali Rangolis (link) are drawn with colored powders to welcome guests. Business establishments and families perform, chopda pujan or veneration of their business books. Everyone feasts and shops and starts new projects or ventures.
Bihar: The customs are that on Dhanteras most people buy new kitchen utensils and keep them at the place of worship. According to one theory, buying of utensils on Dhanteras is associated with the myth of Dhanvantari emerging from the ocean with a pot in his hand. People bathe in the holy river Ganges early in the morning and then observe a fast which is only broken at sunset with sweetmeats, puris and other succulent delicacies. The day before Diwali is known as Choti Diwali or Narak Chaturdasi. Choti means 'small', and thus Choti Diwali is celebrates just like Diwali only on a smaller scale with lesser lights and lesser fireworks, with everybody trying very hard to retrain their bouts of joyousness for the next day. On the morning of Choti Diwali, the women of the house ensure that the house has been cleaned absolutely thoroughly in anticipation of Diwali; they then make beautiful colorful motifs called Rangolis (link) at the entrance. In Hindu homes, one will find Poojas (prayers) being carried out for Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, or Lord Rama. People sing devotional songs in the honor of the deities and perform a ceremonial Aarti on Diwali day. Kheel, Batashe and Khilone and various sweetmeats are offered to the Gods. After the Pooja has been performed, people start decorating their houses with Diyas. They are placed in all the rooms of the house, and even in the courtyard and almost up to the street. It is believed that it helps illuminate the pathway for the Goddess Lakshmi, when she tries to visit people's homes. Thereafter people of Bihar indulge in the usual festivities of bursting crackers and exchanging sweets with their friends and relatives. The adivasis of Bihar worship kali on this day. Eating unripe coconut and taking a beetle is considered auspicious. In chota Nagpur, the men circumbulate their village with basket full of paddy and grass. A week after the festival of lights (link) is the festival Chhath. For one night and day, the people of Bihar literally live on the banks of the river Ganga when a ritual offering is made to the Sun God.
Jammu and Kashmir: Much like in the rest of the country, the Kashmiris clean their houses in anticipation of Diwali and then decorate them. Even a week before the festival, one can spot an assortment of lamps and diyas lighting up the shops and homes and people moving around with an air of joyousness. Many people get their homes whitewashed as it is considered auspicious to do so just before Diwali. It is also an occasion to buy new things- and people shop till they drop to take advantage of all the festive promotions. Diwali day starts with people waking up early in the morning and having the ritual bath. They then dress up in new clothes and families make their way to the temple. After performing the rituals, they buy a lot of sweets and dry fruits to distribute amongst friends, and relatives and the underprivileged as well. They also purchase earthen lamps, candles and electric accessories for illuminating their homes and business establishments. For Children, it is a time to make merry like no other times except maybe for Eid. They are already in buoyant spirits because of all the new clothes and sweets, and their enjoyments is only heightened when its time to burst some crackers or just generally enjoy the firecrackers. Many of them also receive cash or other gifts from their parents and other relatives. The Kashmiri Pundits have been celebrating this festival for ages now. It is one of their oldest rituals, and a mention of its celebration can be found in the Nilmat Puran. It was then called Sukhsuptika which literally means to sleep with happiness. The Diwali celebrations now start from Ekadeshi and last till Amavasya. On Amvasya, the older members of the family observe a ritual fast and perform the Lakshmi Pooja .Earthen lamps are placed in temples, on the road crossings, cremation grounds, banks of rivers, streams and lakes hill houses, at the foot of trees, cow sheds, court yards and shops. People wear new clothes and listen to music.
Punjab: Diwali is also the anniversary of Guru Hargobindji being released from the prison at Gwalior Fort in 1619 AD. On this day the entire Golden Temple is illuminated with traditional lamps of different colors. The reflection of the temple in the shimmering water of the holy pool is truly mesmerizing, something that you want to hold onto forever in your memory. Fire works display by the traditional professionals recreates the glory of the past. In villages cattle are adorned and worshiped by farmers as they are the main source of income for the peasants. Since Diwali marks the official start of winter, it is a happy time for the peasants as they get to sow their winter crops and pray to Goddess Lakshmi to give them a good harvest. The day after Diwali is celebrated as Tikka Day. On this day, sisters make an auspicious mark called Tika on their brother’s forehead and pray to the lord to protect him from all harm. In the Golden Temple of Amritsar, Diwali is celebrated with great éclat. Earthen lamps are lit all round the holy tank and their undulating reflections in the water look extremely fascinating. Sikhs started celebrating Diwali at Amritsar from the time of their Sixth Master, Guru Hargobind. When he rescued fifty-two rajas from imperial detention in the fort of Gwalior and reached Amritsar, the residents there welcomed him by illuminating the whole-city.
Orissa :The one unique ritual that makes Diwali in Orissa different from what it is in other parts of the country is the practice of calling upon the spirits of one's ancestors. Tall bamboo poles are erected in front of the houses. An earthen pot with small windows, called handi, is tied to this pole with the help of a rope. An earthen lamp is placed inside this and the pot is placed on the top of the pole by pulling the rope. Jute stems are burnt to light up the dark path that the spirits of the ancestors take back to heaven. In the evening, the members of the household gather together just after dusk. A Rangoli of a sailboat is made on the ground. The boat has seven chambers. Over the drawing of each different chamber several items are kept - cotton, mustard, salt, asparagus root, turmeric and a wild creeper. Over the central chamber are the offerings meant for prasad. Perched over the prasad is a jute stem with a cloth wick tied around the edge. It is lit at the beginning of the Puja. All members of the family hold a bundle of jute stems in their hands. Beside the Rangoli, a mortar and pestle and a plough are also kept and worshiped. In the olden days, animal sacrifice was performed in front of the goddess. Today, a gourd is cut to symbolically represent the animal sacrifice. After the Puja and offerings, the family celebrates Diwali festival by bursting crackers. When crackers were still a monopoly of the urban areas, folks in the rural areas lit jute sticks called kaunwaria which would burn for hours. Nowadays, crackers being available in every nook and corner, kaunwarias are lit only symbolically. In Orissa too, Diwali remains the festival of lights and sweets. Earthen lamps are lit everywhere and sweets are offered to friends and relatives.
Rajasthan: Diwali festival gives people a chance to decorate their homes, buy new clothes, visit relatives and friends and take time off from their daily routine to gather together and enjoy the festivities. Rajasthan is also renowned all over the world for its gastronomical delights, and this is apparent during the Diwali season. Women of the neighborhood gather and prepare sweets like Mawa Kachori, Til Ke Laddo, Gonth ke Laddu, Piste ke Launj, Moti Pak, Pheeni, Sohan Papdi, Besan Barfi, Jalebi, Shakarpara- to name just a few. If not for anything else, one ought to visit Rajasthan during Diwali just to taste all that wonderful food. The rituals performed are almost the same as in the rest of the country. The Lakshmi Pooja is performed in the evening before the festivities begin. People invoke the Goddess's blessings for a prosperous year ahead. Thereafter a diya is left burning on the altar for the rest of the night to guide the Goddess when she visits. Then of course, it's time to light up the sky with the brightest firecrackers and indulge in a lot of laughter with friends and family. It is at times like these that the natives forget their problems and their tough life for a couple of hours. The celebrations in the 'Pink City' Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, are truly unique as the whole city is decorated like a very expensive movie set. The city sparkles almost like a dream and nothing is more reminiscent of the great Mughal era than Diwali in Jaipur. The city seems to come alive during the festival and truly gives a new meaning to celebration.
Himachal Pradesh is one of the most beautiful states in India. Simla is renowned all over the world for its quaint charm, friendly people and excellent weather. In Himachal Pradesh, Diwali is celebrated with great vigor and gusto. The mud walls of the houses are cleaned and painted over with white clay and cow-dung. In the courtyards a red or black square is painted with colored clay. This is decorated with pictures of animals and birds. The walls are decorated with flower garlands. People believe that Lakshmi who is the goddess of wealth visit all the houses this day and settles down in the house which is clean and pretty. People from the hills have a reputation of being superstitious and this can be observed during Diwali as well as they carry out all the rituals religiously. Different sectors have their own unique way of celebrating Diwali. Many people recall the tale of the brave Lord Rama who defeated the evil demon king Ravana and saved the world from a lot of grief because of that valiant act. Mothers recount this tale to their children as Diwali draws near. Diwali is celebrated in the memory of Lord Rama who came back to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Diwali Rituals in Himachal Pradesh As the sun sets, clay lamps are lit and placed on a plank outside the house in memory of the dearly departed ancestors. It is to reaffirm the bond of these people who share their joys in life as well as in death. It is considered auspicious to visit the cremation site of the family members who are no more. Thereafter, Mithai is distributed to one and all as the children seek the blessings of their elderly in true Indian style by touching their feet. There is a unique ritual in Himachal Pradesh to sacrifice a goat on Diwali day. Another unique custom is that the paint little vessels (Auloo) with clay and decorate it with drawings in red paint. They pray to these and exchange these with their best friends. It is believed that exchanging these pots not only strengthens their relationship but also ensures a prosperous year ahead. Many women preserve these auloos for years and years as they are considered most auspicious. On the day of Diwali, soaked rice is powdered and designs are made out of it. At nighttime, the young girls worship this design with grass and camphor. At some places, a figure of Lakshmi made with sandalwood is placed in a copper plate and a mandav of sugarcane is made over it. Goddess Lakshmi is specially worshiped on this day. Himachal Pradesh is decidedly distinct in the way it celebrates this festival of lights. It is believed that the people from the hills have merged their pagan beliefs to the regular celebrations and the result is a different experience of the festival than anywhere else in the country.
Maharastra: In a traditional Maharashtrian household, Diwali celebrations commence with 'Vasu-baras' that comes on tithi 'Ashwin krushna dwadashi'. Vasu-Baras is a celebration in honor of the Holy cow which is revered by Hindus all over the country and is considered a mother figure of sorts. Married women worship and perform a puja of a cow who is expecting a calf. This symbolizes the gratitude of the women towards the cow for providing for their children. Narak Chaturdashi While Dhanteras is celebrated in Maharshtra much like it is elsewhere in the country, the celebrations for Choti Diwali do differ considerably. Chhoti Diwali is popularly known as Narak-Chaturdashi in Maharashtra: On this day people celebrate Lord Krishna’s victory over the evil demon king, Narakasur. They wake up early in the morning and massage their bodies with scented oil. And as a custom they use 'utane' or 'utanah' for bath instead of soap. This special bath is referred to as 'abhyang-snan'. It may be noted that 'Utane' is not the same as uptan. Utane is made of several things having ayurvedic properties like 'chandan' (sandalwood), 'kapoor' (camphor), manjistha, rose, orange skin and haldi (turmeric). Lakshmi Puja Lakshmi-pujan is celebrated on the Diwali evening. It is believed that the Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity visits every house that evening. So prayers are held in order to invoke her blessings for a prosperous New Year. A variety of mouth-watering delicacies such as chivda, chakali, shankar-pale, anarse, kadaboli, karanji, shev, chirote etc are prepared to mark the festival. Throughout Diwali, Marathi people hang 'Akash-kandil' / 'Akash-dive' and light up 'panti's outside their houses. Tradition of marking the entrance to a house with colorful 'Rangoli's is also followed in Maharashtra as in rest or India. Diwali Cha Padva Many people also celebrate the third day of Diwali as ‘Diwalicha Padva’. This is a celebration of togetherness as a husband and wife and the love shared by them. To mark the occasion the wife performs an 'aukshan' (aarti) of her husband and the husband in turn presents a special gift to his wife. Tulsi-Vivah In Maharashtra, end of Diwali celebrations marks the beginning of Tulsi-Vivah. Under this people organize marriage of sacred tulsi (a basil plant) in their house. In Maharashtra the tradition is that people start organizing the marriage ceremonies of their sons/daughters only once Tulsi-vivah starts. Celebration of Diwali in Maharashtra ends with Dev-Diwali .
Uttar Pradesh: The state wears a vibrant color throughout the Diwali festival, and almost seems to come alive with enthusiasm. The Kartik purnima festival celebrated in Varanasi is a true visual delight. Varanasi has long been hailed as the land of festivals and the fact that it is thronged with Hindu sages gives the city a surreal atmosphere. Religious ceremonies take on a lofty importance in this state that reveres its Gods. The full moon night after Diwali falling in November - December is the sacred day for all the people. The ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of brightly lit earthen lamps. The lamps then are gently left on the River. Visitors throng in large numbers to watch this spectacular event.
Gujarat: The real zest for the Diwali festival can be witnessed in the Diwali markets in Gujarat, which come to life almost a month before the festival is to commence. Shoppers make a beeline for the stores selling jewelry, clothes, sweets and Diwali gifts. Shopping becomes almost like a family affair with the whole family dividing up the tasks amongst themselves. It is a pure joy to shop in these colorful Diwali markets. Diwali celebrations in Gujarat commence the night before Diwali. The Gujaratis create designs, usually depicting nature or the Gods, from natural color powders. These are called Diwali Rangolis (link) and are generally found at the entrance of the house or in the courtyard. These motifs are designed in order to welcome Goddess Lakshmi to their homes and are a source of pride for the creators who often compete amongst themselves to see who has the best Rangolis in their house. Small footprints made with rice flour and vermilion powder are also drawn all over the house. The Diwali day attire usually consists of the Jhabba (kurta) and dhotis for the men, while the women dress in Saris. However in the urban cities of Gujarat, most people do not wear the traditional attire instead choosing to opt for western clothes or the fancier Indian variety. It is considered auspicious to visit the temple on this day. The day is spent preparing food and sweets. Shops are open, but business comes to a halt on Dhanteras, two days before Diwali, and doesn't resume until Labh Pancham, the fifth day of the New Year. For traders and businessmen, this is the time for a vacation. Diwali evening is celebrated by lighting up streets and markets, and bursting crackers.
West Bengal: Like everywhere else in the country, Diwali is a time for great feasting and rejoicing and it is no different here in West Bengal. Bengalis have a reputation for decorating their houses and no one can argue with it when Diwali nears. They light up their houses with the most ornate of diyas using hundreds of them at a time. Bengalis are also immensely fond of Diwali Rangolis. Two or even four plantain leaves decorate the entry to the house or property, with a row of diyas at the doorstep. The entire family gathers around for Lakshmi Puja in the evening. The Diwali festival goes on for three days but on Amavasya, the final day for celebrations and the day to worship Goddess Kali, the lights and gaiety are considerably reduced. The first two festival days are important, with feasting, drinking, gambling, family gatherings, lights and fire crackers occupying time from dusk to dawn. In West Bengal, the pious festive air and not the material goods, mainly marks the occasion. No new clothes, no new utensils, no new gold. In fact nothing new at all on Diwali day, as all the shops are shut tight except those selling sweets and firecrackers. Gifts are limited to sweets and dry fruits.
Tamil Nadu: Diwali is celebrated in the month of Aipasi (thula month) 'Narak Chaturdashi' thithi, preceding amavasai. The Diwali preparations begin in full force the day before when the oven (chula) is thoroughly cleaned, smeared with lime and decorated with four or five dots of red kumkum paste. It is then filled with water for the next day’s oil bath as per the custom followed in much of the country. The house is washed and colorful Diwali Rangolis are made at the entrance to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi. In the Puja room, betel leaves, betel nuts, plaintain fruits, flowers, sandal paste, kumkum, gingelly oil, turmeric powder, and scented powder are kept ready for the Puja. Crackers and new dresses are placed in a plate after smearing a little kumkum or sandal paste. The Diwali day begins with everyone in the family taking an oil bath before sunrise, a custom arising from a belief that having an oil bath in the morning on the day of Diwali is equivalent to taking bath in the Ganges. Before the bath, elders in the house apply gingelly oil on the heads of the younger members. For those hailing from Tanjore, the custom is to first take a small quantity of deepavali lehiyam (medicinal, ayurvedic paste) after the oil bath and then breakfast. Often sweets are eaten after wearing new clothes. In almost all houses, items like ukkarai, velli appam, idly, chutney, sambhar, omapudi, boondhi are prepared. For lunch, jangri, pathir peni, or one variety of the poli are made. Crackers are usually burst only after the bath. Meanwhile, kuthu vilakus (oil lamp) are lit in the Pooja room. Mats or wooden planks are placed facing east. After naivedhya (offering to the Gods) of the items, a plaintain fruit is given to each member of the family followed by betel leaves and betel nuts. Those who have to perform 'pithru tharpanam' will have a second bath perform the tharpanam and don't eat rice at night. Though, Tamil Nadu celebrates Diwali in a decidedly distinct manner, many familiarities are observed, like the sweets, crackers, new clothes and the joyous spirit of this wonderful Festival of lights.
Madhya Pradesh: During the Diwali Festival, its almost as if all of Madhya Pradesh has been illuminated with bright, radiant lights. The streets are decorated in a colorful manner and people prepare their favorite dishes along with the usual variety of Mithais. On the night of Dhanteras, the shops remain open throughout the night. In particular demand are the Balushais, khasta or crumbly doughnuts. On Diwali day, houses all over Madhya Pradesh glow with the twinkle of innumerable diyas, candles and electric lights. The night is illuminated with the flaming lights of fireworks, creating kaleidoscopic designs against the black canvas of the sky. For the Hindu business communities, Diwali Festival marks the beginning of the New Year. During Diwali, many folk dances are performed in this region. The Baiga and Gond tribes perform their traditional dances to celebrate the Diwali Festival.
Kerala:Due to the fact that it has a dominant Catholic population, Kerala is the only state in India where Diwali is not a major festival. Traditionally, Diwali celebrations in Kerala are pretty much a low-key affair as there aren’t too many Business or merchant families living here. In fact the natives of Kerala rarely celebrate Diwali.
However, there are places in Kerala which are dominated by prominent Tamil, Gujarati or North Indian communities. In such areas, Diwali is celebrated with much pomp and pageantry, not to mention nostalgia. People of these communities organize grand feasts and put up a colorful display for the benefit of their Kerala neighbors. Many visit temples and then get together with friends and relatives to enjoy the fireworks on Diwali day. However, it is not to say that people of Kerala are not interested in Diwali at all. As India grows economically strong, people of all races are learning to integrate each other’s customs, and it is common to see Diwali being celebrated with immense joyousness in many town and cities of Kerala.
Karnataka: The lighting of innumerable diyas (oil lamps) in every courtyard and the bursting of crackers mark the celebration of Diwali. Sweetmeats, new clothes and spirit are there as in other festivals. The time for rejoicing is mainly early morning and late night. These hours of darkness bordering the waking hours are preferred as lights and crackers are the highlights of the festivities and these need darkness to have their illuminating effect. Hence people rise early and sleep late.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Deepavali is here.....

The Month of October is a month of celebrations.Usually we have Navarathri and deepavali in this month but this year navarathri was in september,so here we are with deepavali to celebrate.In the next few post leading to deepavali or diwali I will try to give as much information as possible so that we all understand and we are more confident in celebrating these festivals.My post would be a little elaborate because I have the younger generation following the blog who needs guidance in all aspects. so for some it might seem to be a little silly but in the best interest of everyone I have made it as simple as possible so that everyone feels comfortable and confident while we celebrate this great festival.
Today let me list out the Ten reasons to celebrate diwali or deepavali:
1) Goddess Lakshmi’s Birthday: On this very Diwali day, the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi is said to have been incarnated from the depth of the bottomless ocean. The Hindu scriptures tell us that both Devas(gods) and Asuras (demons) were mortal (Mrita) at one point of time. Seeking a deathless condition (Amarattva), they churned the ocean to seek Amrita, the nectar of immortality (an event mentioned in the Hindu scriptures as "Samudra-manthan"), during which a host of divine celestial objects came up. Prime among these was Goddess Lakshmi, the daughter of the king of the milky ocean, who arose on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month. She was subsequently married to Lord Vishnu on the same darkest night of the year and brilliant lamps were illuminated and placed in rows to mark this holy occassion. Hence the association of Diwali with Goddess Lakshmi and the tradition of lighting of lamps and candles during the festival. To this day, Hindus celebrate the birth of the goddess Lakshmi and her marriage to Lord Vishnu on Diwali and seek her blessings for the coming year.
2) The Legend of King Mahabali : The Bhagavata Purana (also known as Srimad Bhagavatam), the most sacred Hindu text, reveals how on a Diwali day Lord Vishnu, in his fifth incarnation as Vaman-avtaara, rescued Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali during the Treta Yug. Bali, or rather King Mahabali, was a powerful demon king who ruled the earth. Powered by a boon granted to him by Lord Brahma, Bali was invincible and even gods failed to defeat him in battles. Although a wise and perfect king otherwise, Mahabali was violent in his ways with the Devas (gods). On their insistence, Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a short Brahmin and approached Bali for some charity. The righteous and benevolent King couldn't refuse the Brahmin's offer and was tricked into giving up his kingship and wealth (of which Lakshmi is said to be the Goddess). Diwali marks this overcoming of Mahabali by Lord Vishnu and this is another reason why Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on Diwali. In Kerala, the festival of 'Onam' is celebrated around the month of August to mark this legend.
3) The Killing of Narakasura: The Bhagavata Purana tells us about Narakasura, an evil demon king who had managed to acquire awesome powers. Unrivalled in prowess, he conquered both the heavens and earth and was tyrannical in his reign. Addicted to power, he even stole the earrings of Aditi, the heavenly mother goddess, and usurped some of her territory. When Lord Vishnu was incarnated as Krishna in the Dwapara Yuga, he killed Narakasura on the day preceding Diwali and rescued 16,000 women whom the demon had imprisoned in his palace. The deliverance from the terrible Narakasura was celebrated with much grandeur, a tradition that continues to this day. However, another version of the story credits Lord Krishna's wife Sathyabhama as the one who eliminated Narakasura. It is said that Narakasura could only be killed by his mother Bhudevi and as Satyabhama was an incarnation of the same Bhudevi, she only could kill him. Before death, however, Narakasura realized his mistake and requested a boon from Satyabhama that everyone should celebrate his death with colorful light. To commemorate his death, the event is celebrated in some parts of India as Naraka Chaturdasi, two days before Diwali day.
4) The Return of the Pandavas: The great Hindu epic ‘Mahabharata’ reveals that it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ (the new moon day of the Kartik month) when the Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The five Pandava brothers, their mother and their wife Draupadi were honest, kind, gentle and caring in their ways and were loved by all their subjects. To celebrate the joyous occassion of their return to Hastinapura and to welcome back the Pandavas, the common people illuminated their state by lighting bright earthen lamps everywhere. And the tradition is maintained to this day.
5) The Victory of Rama: The great Hindu epic ‘Ramayana’ describes how Lord Ram (the incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the Treta Yug) conquered Lanka after vanquishing the evil King Ravana and after passing a period of of fourteen years in exile returned to his capital Ayodhya on a new moon day of Kartik with wife Sita and brother Lakshman. To celebrate the homecoming of their beloved king, the people of Ayodhya burst crackers, lit up their houses with earthen lamps (diyas), and decorated the entire city in the grandest manner. Year after year this homecoming of Lord Rama is commemorated on Diwali with lights, fireworks, bursting of crackers and merriment. The festival gets its name Deepawali, or Diwali, from the rows (avali) of lamps (deepa) that the people of Ayodhya lit to welcome their King.
6) Coronation of Vikramaditya: It is also said that Vikramaditya, the legendary Indian king famed for his wisdom, valour and magnanimity was coroneted on the Diwali day following his victory over the Sakas in 56 BC. This was marked by a grand celebration which is still maintained annually. One of the greatest Hindu monarchs, Vikramaditya ruled the greatest empire in the world from modern-day Thailand in the east to the borders of modern-day saudi Arabia in the west. Diwali, thus, apart from being a religious festival also has a historical association.
7) The Enlightenment of Swami Dayananda Saraswati: Diwali also marks the auspicious occasion when on a new moon day of Kartik (Diwali day) Swami Dayananda Saraswati, one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism attained his nirvana (enlightenment) and became Maharshi Dayananda, meaning the great sage Dayananda. In 1875, Maharshi Dayananda founded the Arya Samaj, "Society of Nobles", a Hindu reform movement to purify Hinduism of the many evils it became associated with at that era. Every Diwali, this great reformer is remembered by Hindus all over India.
8) The Enlightenment of Vardhamana Mahavira: For Jains, Diwali commemorates the enlightenment of Vardhamana Mahavira(the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankaras of the Jains and the founder of modern Jainism) which is said to have occurred on Oct. 15, 527 B.C. This is one more reason to engage in Diwali celebrations for pious Jains and other than the purpose of commemoration, the festival stands for the celebration of the emanicipation of human spirit from earthly desires.
9) Special Day for the Sikhs: For Sikhs, Diwali holds a special significance for it was on a Diwali day that the third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized the festival of lights as an occasion when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings. It was also on a Diwali day in 1619 that their sixth religious leader, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was held by the Mughal Emperor Jahengir in the Gwalior fort, was freed from imprisonment along with 52 Hindu Kings (political prisoners) whom he had arranged to be released as well. And it was also on the same auspicious occasion of Diwali when the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid in 1577.
10. Goddess Kali: Kali, also called Shyama Kali, is the first of the 10 avatars (incarnations) of Goddess Durga, Lord Shiva's consort. According to legend, long ago after the gods lost in a battle with the demons, Goddess Kali was born as Kal Bhoi Nashini from the forehead of Goddess Durga. Said to be a personification of Nari Shakti (female power), Kali was born to save heaven and earth from the growing cruelty of the demons. After killing all the devils, Kali lost her control and started killing anyone who came her way which stopped only when Lord Shiva intervened. The well-known picture of Ma Kali, with her tongue hanging out, actually depicts the moment when she steps on the Lord and repents. That momentous day has been commemorated ever since and the main purpose of celebrating Kali Puja is to seek the help of the goddess in destroying evil both external and internal to us as also to get her blessings for general happiness, health, wealth, and peace.
To conclude, there are several reasons behind Diwali celebrations and almost every region of India has its own reason to observe the occasion. All of these however, matters little to the festival itself. Whatever the cause behind its celebration, Diwali is undoubtedly a national festival of India, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith.
To Be Continued.......