World’s Ancient Festival Celebrated in India

diwali-celebrated

Diwali is one of the biggest festival of Hindus, celebrated with great enthusiasm and happiness in India. The festival is celebrated for five continuous days, where the third days is celebrated as the main Diwali festival or ‘Festival of lights’.

The exact day of the festival is decided by the position of the moon. According to the Hindu calendar, Amavasya or ‘no moon day’ is considered as the perfect day to celebrate Diwali. This dark night comes after every fortnight and in the month of Kartik, it marks this festival of lights and diyas. As per the English calendar, the festival generally comes in the month of November and December. For all Hindu people, the festival holds an imperative meaning since the festival is reckoned with Lord Rama’s victory as the King of Ayodhya after his return to the kingdom from 14 years of exile along with his wife Sita & brother Laxman after killing the demon, King Ravana. The festival is celebrated by lighting diyas and candles to drive away the darkness of Amavasya.

Why is Diwali – Festival of Lights – ‘Triumph of Good over Evil’ Celebrated

Historical facts that suggests that Diwali should be celebrated by all Humans

The five day of Diwali

The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari Triodasi also called Dhan Theras. The second day of Diwali is called Narak Chaturdasi. It is the fourteenth lunar day (thithi) of the dark forthnight of the month of Kartik and the eve of Diwali. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear. The third day of Diwali is the actual Diwali. This is the day when worship for Mother Lakshmi is performed. On the fourth day of Diwali, Goverdhan Pooja is performed. The fifth day of the diwali is called Bhratri Dooj. It is a day dedicated to sisters.

Historical Facts

The Katha of Rama and Sita: Lord Rama was a great warrior King who was exiled by his father Dashratha, the King of Ayodhya, along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman, on his wife Kaikeyi’s insistence. Lord Rama returned to his Kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, in which he put an end to the demon Ravana of Lanka, who was a great Pundit, highly learned but still evil dominated his mind. After this victory of Good over Evil, Rama returned to Ayodhya. In Ayodhya, the people welcomed them by lighting rows of clay lamps. So, it is an occasion in honor of Rama’s victory over Ravana; of Truth’s victory over Evil.

On the basis of planetary configurations described in various other chapters of Valmiki Ramayan, the date on which Ravana was killed works out to be 4th December 5076 BC and Shri Ram completed 14 years of exile on 2nd January, 5075 BC and that day was also Navami of Shukla Paksha in Chaitra month. Thus Shri Ram had come back to Ayodhya when he was 39 years old (5114-5075).

The Katha of King Bali and Vamana Avatar: The other story concerns King Bali, who was a generous ruler. But he was also very ambitious. Some of the Gods pleaded Vishnu to check King Bali’s power. Vishnu came to earth in the form of a Vamana(dwarf) dressed as priest. The dwarf approached King Bali and said “You are the ruler of the three worlds: the Earth, the world above the skies and the underworld. Would you give me the space that I could cover with three strides?” King Bali laughed. Surely a dwarf could not cover much ground, thought the King, who agreed to dwarf’s request. At this point, the dwarf changed into Vishnu and his three strides covered the Earth, the Skies and the whole Universe! King Bali was send to the underworld. As part of Diwali celebrations, some Hindus remember King Bali.

The Defeat of Narkasur by Lord Krishna: Lord Vishnu in his 8th incarnation as Krishna destroyed the demon Narkasura, who was causing great unhappiness amongst the people of the world. Narkasura was believed to be a demon of filth, covered in dirt. He used to kidnap beautiful young women and force them to live with him. Eventually, their cries for rescue were heard by Vishnu, who came in the form of Krishna. First, Krishna had to fight with a five-headed monster who guarded the demon’s home. Narkasura hoped that his death might bring joy to others. Krishna granted his request and the women were freed. For Hindus, this story is a reminder that good can still come out of evil.

Lord Krishna and The Mountain: In the village of Gokula, many years ago, the people prayed to the God Indra. They believed that Indra sent the rains, which made their crops, grow. But Krishna came along and persuaded the people to worship the mountain Govardhan, because the mountain and the land around it were fertile. This did not please Indra. He sent thunder and torrential rain down on the village. The people cried to Krishna to help. Krishna saved the villagers by lifting the top of the mountain with his finger. The offering of food to God on this day of Diwali is a reminder to Hindus of the importance of food and it is a time for being thankful to God for the bounty of nature.

Sikh Festival Diwali

In Sikh perspective, Diwali is celebrated as the return of the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji from the captivity of the city, Gwalior. To commemorate his undying love for Sikhism, the towns people lit the way to, Harmandhir Sahib (referred to as the Golden Temple), in his honour.

Jain Festival Diwali

Among the Jain festivals, Diwali is one of the most important one. For on this occasion we celebrate the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira who established the dharma as we follow it. Lord Mahavira was born as Vardhamana on Chaitra Shukla 13th in the Nata clan at Khattiya-kundapura, near Vaishali. He obtained Kevala Gyana on Vishakha Shukla 10 at the Jambhraka village on the banks of Rijukula river at the age of 42.

Shri Ram Ji used this Ram Setu* to travel to Sri Lanka and later killed demon Ravan.

*(also known as Nal Setu since it was constructed under supervision of Vishwakarma’s son Nal)

Shri Ram or nal setu - proof of ramayan

Shri Ram Ji Return to Ayodhya

Shri Ram Ji, the ancient Avatar of Lord Vishnu, King of the TretaYug, the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, and above all, the ideal king. After ten days of fierce war with Ravana, the victorious Shri Ram Ji, Laxmana and Sita preapared to return to Ayodhya. Shri Ram Ji took Vimana while coming back from Sri Lanka and showed Sita Maa from sky that this Setu was constructed to travel to Sri Lanka.There was joyous shouts of Victory to Shri Ram Ji, Veer Hanuman ki Jai – Victory to Hanuman. Gods from the Heaven poured flowers and garlands to celebrate and express their pleasure.

Celebration in Ayodhya

Here in Ayodhya, Bharata, Ram’s beloved brother, eagerly waited for the arrival of Shri Ram Ji, Laxmana and Sita. He had counted every day of those fourteen years that Shri Ram Ji had to suffer in forest as a result of his mother’s prarabadh. He had ruled as the representative of Shri Ram Ji, living like a monk -sanyasi. Shri Ram Ji’s (paduka) wooden shoes adored the throne during his absence.

shriram-vimana

Shri Ram Ji took Viman to come back to India

Bharata and people of Ayodhya decided to celebrate the return of Shri Ram Ji with happiness. The whole Ayodhya was eager to welcome their beloved Maryada Puroshattam. The whole city was decorated with flowers and garlands. Every house adored beautiful look of cleanliness and was lighted with diya and lamps. Perfumes and scent filled the air. Every street was cleaned and watered, and decorated with hand-painted colorful designs, rangolis (made from the juices of different flower petals)

Brothers Meet

There was huge rush to see Shri Ram Ji first. Bharata and Shri Ram Ji hugged each other, tears flowing down their eyes. Shri Ram Ji inquired about the well being of Kaikeyi mother first, then about his mother Kaushalya and Sumitra. Soon, Shri Ram Ji was given his due honour as King of Ayodhya. Formal yagna ceremony was performed for Rajya Abhishek and Shri Ram Ji ruled Ayodhya following path of morality. Everyone including animals and trees were happy and contented.

Mother earth and Harvest Festival

In Satyug, there was no need to have irrigation or sowing of seeds to harvest crops for feeding people. But in Kaliyug (our present age), due to massive loss of moraility, we need to pay respect to pakriti or mother earth and maintain balance with nature to sustain lives- humans and cattles. We need to give due respect to our atmosphere and cattle, because of their existence – we will have abundance of crops and good harvest.  Diwali signifies Harvest Festival. As it occurs at the end of a cropping season and has along with the above customs, a few others that reinforce the hypothesis of its having originated as a harvest festival. Every harvest normally spells prosperity. The celebration in the world was first started in India by farmers, following Vedic rituals, after they reaped their harvests. They celebrated with joy and offered praise to Mother Nature and God for granting them a good crop.

On the second day of Deepavali, Harvest festival is celebrated – that is strongly suggestive of the origin of Deepavali as an Crop festival. Worship of the Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi and performance of Aarti are a part of the harvest festival. On this day delicacies are prepared from semi-cooked rice called Poha or Pauva. This rice is taken from the fresh harvest available at that time. This custom is prevalent both in rural and urban areas especially in Western India.

harvest-festival
In rural areas, Diwali signifies only this aspect. The reason being the fact that Diwali which is celebrated sometime in October/November coincides with the end of a harvesting season, known as the Kharif season when the fresh crop of rice is available. Therefore, Diwali is also considered by many rural hindus to be the harvest festival when farmers offer prayers, and express their gratitude to the Vedic gods for the bounty they received from them.

Celebration on Killing of Narakasura Demon

Narakasura ruled the kingdom of Pradyoshapuram. Puranas have it that Naraka, son of Bhudevi, acquired immense power from a blessing given by Lord Brahma after a severe penance. Under his rule, the villagers suffered a lot of hardship as the demon tortured the people and kidnapped the women to be imprisoned in his palace with his invincible might.

Unable to bear the tyranny of the demon, the celestial beings pleaded with Lord Krishna to save them from his torture. But Naraka had a boon that he would face death only at the hands of his mother Bhudevi. So, Krishna asks his wife Sathyabhama, the reincarnation of Bhudevi, to be his charioteer in the battle with Naraka.

narakasur-vadh

When Krishna fell unconscious after being hit by an arrow of Naraka, Sathyabhama takes the bow and aims the arrow at Naraka, killing him instantly. Later Lord Krishna reminds her of the boon she had sought as Bhudevi. The Narakasura Vadh by Sathyabhama could also be taken to interpret that parents should not hesitate to punish their children when they step in to the wrong path of inhumanity and terror.

The message of Naraka Chaturdashi Parva is that the good of the society should always prevail over one’s own personal bonds. It is interesting to note that Bhudevi, mother of the slain demon Naraka, declared that his death should not be a day of mourning but an occasion to celebrate and rejoice. It is said Lord Krishna had an oil bath to rid himself off the blood spattered on his body when Naraka was killed.

The tradition is followed and people offer prayers on the previous day of the Naraka Chaturdashi to the vessel in which water is being heated for having bath. Hindus light fireworks, which are regarded as the effigies of Narakasura who was killed on this day.

Prakatya of Lakhmi Maa

Sage Durvasa once received a flower garland which had a unique fragrance. While roaming through the forest with the garland, Durvasa came across Lord Indra (king of demigods) who was sitting atop his white elephant Airavat. The Sage gifted the garland to Lord Indra and he placed it on the head of Airavat.

Airavat wanted to know the reason for the unique fragrance and using his trunk he tried to get the garland. But unfortunately the garland fell down and the elephant stamped on it.

Durvasa happened to see this and he thought it was done purposefully to insult him. He thought that Indra has gone arrogant with wealth, power and prosperity.

Durvasa cursed Indra that Goddess Lakshmi, who is responsible for all his prosperity, will desert him.

The curse proved to be fatal and Indra lost all his glory. The Devas thought that the Asuras will take advantage of their precarious situation and would drive them out of heaven.

The Devas then approached Lord Vishnu for help. He said that Goddess Lakshmi has disappeared deep into the oceans and the only way to make her reappear was by Samdura Manthan or Churning of the Ocean.

Thus the Devas took the help of the Asuras by tempting them with the Amrit that can be obtained through Samdura Manthan. Numerous things appeared during the churning of ocean including Goddess Lakshmi who sought the hand of Lord Vishnu and became his consort.

samudhra-manthan

Lakhmi Maa is the Hindu Goddess who governs all forms of wealth and success and the paths, means and results of all forms of prosperity. As the Consort of Lord Vishnu, who is the god of preservation for universes and cosmos, Lakhmi Maa Devi is the goddess of health and beauty. Sri Lakhmi Maa embodies sublime beauty, siddhi, peace, strength, balance, auspiciousness, opulence and wisdom.

Lakhmi Maa’s Incarnation into being

The story of Lakhmi Maa’s birth begins when the Devas (minor gods) were in a race against the Asuras (demons) to obtain amrit (the nectar of immorality). The Devas consulted Vishnu who was on earth as Kurma, a tortoise. They decided they would churn the oceans for the amrit. They created to churn by the threading the serpent Vasuki around Mount Mandara. Kurma dived to the ocean floor and balanced Mount Mandara on his back.

In the grip of Kurma’s cosmic clutch, the mountain could not sink into the ocean bed. The gods churned and received the Nectar of Immortality from Lakhmi Maa Devi and then fourteen treasures came to their hands. Lakhmi Maa Chose Vishnu as Her Consort. Vishnu carried Lakhmi Maa from the ocean into His heaven. Each time Vishnu descends on earth as an avatar. He is accompanied by an avatar of Lakhmi Maa.

Meaning of Lakhmi Maa

As a female counterpart of Lord Vishnu, Mata Lakhmi Maa is also called “Shri”, the female of the Supreme Being. Goddess Lakhmi Maa means “Good Luck” to Hindus. The word “Lakhmi Maa” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Laksya”, meaning ‘aim’ or ‘goal’, and she is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. Also ‘lakh’ which means “one hundred thousand’ as a monetary unit in India, is the first part of Lakhmi Maa’s name, symbolizing her blessings that pour forth abundantly.

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