There are hundreds of festival in India…some facts say, that the list of festivals could reach up to more than 2000 if taken on regional level. Half of the holidays we get are due to these festivals that we tend to celebrate with a lot of enthusiasm.
One such festivals that gets the spotlight in my blog today is Diwali, or Deepavali. It is the festival of lights and the victory of good over evil. We all know that people burn firecrackers on this day, watch fireworks, make rangoli, visit each other with gifts and happy faces and decorate their houses with lights n ‘Diyas’.
Lighting a Diya is not just a customary practice but signifies the submission of one’s soul to the supreme power. The oil in the diya represents the dirt (greed, jealousy, hatred, lust etc) that humans tend to nurture while the cotton wick is symbolic of the aatman (spirit). So in order to attain enlightenment and unite with the Brahman (the supreme power), one must get rid of materialism. A diya emits light when the wick is fueled by oil and burns, thus burning the greedy desires.
Moreover, a Diya also symbolizes knowledge. An ignorant person would often remain in dark and wouldn’t be able to keep a check on the events happening around him. It is only when he feels the need to gain some knowledge that he will realize the purpose of his existence.
I still remember what my mother told me about this festival, the reason why we celebrate it in the first place…it is celebrated in the honor of the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshman from the exile of 14 years after Rama defeated Ravan (who had kidnapped his wife, Sita and had commenced war on Rama). It is said that to illuminate their path after their triumphant return, 1000s of villagers lit up the streets with Diyas to celebrate the victory of good over evil. It is all a part of Ramayana (an epic ancient Indian story).
I often noticed my parents cleaning up the house together and bringing various sweets, phool mala (Garland) and small statues of god and godesses (Sri Ganesha, Lakshmi and Saraswati). God Ganesha is said to bring in ethical beginnings and is a fearless remover of obstacles, Goddess Lakshmi brings in wealth, while Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of art and literature. During dusk, we used to make the preparations for pooja (worshiping) of these three gods and completed the sacred ceremony with deep faith. We used to keep open the house so that Goddess Lakshmi would visit us at night and bring in sources of wealth.
I know exactly why we celebrate this festival, and I also know why we worship the gods on this day, but is this all there is to Diwali?
My answer is, No.
Festivals don’t just bring in happiness and a hope to a brighter future, but they also tend to lighten our hearts of the sadness and malice we hide in there. Seeing everyone happy makes us happy too and we try to enjoy this one day to our fullest. We have so many days in our lives, but these festivals make those days more special than the others, they give us a reason to remember.Visiting each other, enjoying with the family, we laugh and make moments we like to share.
We clean our houses before Diwali for the people to get impressed and make it sober for a God to visit, it is like a ritual, but in a roundabout way, we actually clean out houses thoroughly once a year, which is very important for a safe and healthy environment, some people also whitewash/paint their homes for it to look more beautiful. We light up the house with diyas which brightens our mood and drives away all the darkness in our mind, some say it also helps in killing of viruses and of course, they are good for warming up our hearts 😉
The ‘havan’ (Consecrated fire) we do during the worshiping ritual kills away all the harmful bacteria present in one’s surrounding. That can’t be said the same for Fireworks, as they give birth to pollution, but again, that is something we ignore which shouldn’t be the case (sadly).
Firecrackers were something that were invented along the way, but Diyas were the main source of celebration. Sweets and gifts are something one does not misses in this festival season and since it is celebrated on a national level by all, it is given the utmost importance each year.
So a HAPPY DIWALI to everyone and make sure to enjoy the year ahead and ignore those loud crackers!