What is Diwali?
Also known as: Deepavali or Dipalika
In Hinduism, it is a 5-day festival which celebrates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya from his 14 year exile. Diwali has different meanings in Jainism and Sikhism.
Usually falls between October and November. This year, it’s from November 10 through 14.
Celebrations often vary regionally; for instance, Bengalis worship Kali Ma, while in southern India, people celebrates Lord Krishna's victory over Narakasura.
Although celebrations vary regionally, some common elements include: rangolis, diyas, and worshipping respective deities at home and at the temple.
The 5 Days of Diwali, At a Glance
(Please note, the significance and the rituals for each day often vary regionally and across families. The details below may not reflect your personal experiences).
Day 1: Dhanteras, also known as National Ayurveda Day
Day 2: Kali Chaudas, also known as Naraka Chaturdashi, Roop Chaudas, Choti Diwali, Bhoot Chaturdashi
Day 3: Diwali
Day 4: Bestu Varas, also celebrated as Govardhan Puja, Annakut
Day 5: Bhai Dooj, also known as Bhatri Ditya, Bhai Phota, Bhagini Hasta Bhojana
The Origins of Dhanteras
During the churning, a pot of blue poison emerged, which could wipe out the universe. The gods prayed to Shiva, who held the poison in his throat. The churning continued, and the gods were able to retrieve 14 valuables, including the nectar of immortality carried by Dhanavantri, the Hindu god of medicine and ayurveda, and an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Dhanteras is dedicated to the worship of Dhanavantri, the god of health.
How Some People Celebrate Dhanteras:
- Deep clean your home days before
- Light 13 diyas and keep them lit over night
- Buy gold/silver or items that you want to “multiply“ over time
- Decorate the home with rangoli Make a puja thali
THE RITUAL: WASHING COINS
- Gather new dollar bills or coins, and place them in a clean plate.
- Sprinkle some water and milk on them to “wash” them and then dry them with a clean towel.
- Chant Ganesh and Laxmi mantras as you perform this This signifies the cleansing of things we deem valuable
The Origin of Kali Chaudas:
Raktabeej, a demon, was granted a boon, in which for every drop of his blood that fell to the ground, a thousand more clones -- and each one more increasingly powerful -- would emerge from the drop.
He wreaked havoc in the world so Durga Devi, the goddess of courage and protection, gave “birth” to Kali Ma. The two goddesses joined forces where Durga Devi would strike Raktabeej, and Kali Ma would drink all the blood before it landed on the ground. Kali Chaudas commemorates the day Raktabeej was defeated.
On this day, people worship Durga Devi, Lord Hanuman and/or Yama and place kajal in their eyes to ward off evil spirits.
Note: Another version of the story says that Lord Krishna killed Narakasura.
How Some People Celebrate Diwali:
THE RITUAL: CHOPDA PUJAN
- Can be performed at home/office
- Lay out your checkbooks or other financial related materials in front of your altar, along with your puja thali
- On a blank sheet of white paper, draw a Swastik symbol, and with a red pen, write “Shubh Labh” or something sacred, as per your family’s traditions
- Signifies the reconciliation of your financial and “spiritual” books
- Drawing the Shripada, or Laxmi's footprints is meant to symbolize the Goddess entering and blessing the home
- Sing the Laxmi arti and seek blessings
Laxmi Devi sits on a lotus flower, which blossoms in murky waters. With the roots in mud, the stalk still rises, without losing its purity and freshness. This is a metaphor for rising above the challenges and blossoming unscathed.
How Some People Celebrate the Day After Diwali:
BESTU VARAS: HAPPY NEW YEAR!
- wake up early, get ready in new clothes, and visit the temple
- call or visit family and friends to wish them “Saal Mubarak!”
- marks the day Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan hill on his finger and saved the two from the wrath of Lord Indra
- devotees cook and offer 108 different dishes to Krishna
The Significance of Bhai Beej:
Here are 2 of the versions of it origin:
- Krishna & Subhadra - After defeating the demon Narakasura, Krishna visited his sister, Subhadra and she welcomed him with sweets and a tilak
- Yamraj & Yamuna - Yamraj, the god of death, visited his sister, Yamuna on this day. The idea is that anyone who receives a tilak from their sister on this day is protected
- similar to Raksha Bandhan, it honors the bond between siblings
- the sister hosts her brother(s) for a meal, and receives a gift in exchange
Lessons from the Ramayan (that go beyond "good triumphs evil"):
What are your comments on this?
"How come Rama never had to prove his innocence? Sita got a trial by fire, whos to say Rama didn’t sleep with someone else?"
"In fact, Rama was not betrayed by his father nor was Sita betrayed by Rama. This interpretation does not take into account Karma and Dharma. Nor does it take into account the true spiritual meaning of the Ramayana (it's much deeper than the story told on the surface).
King Dasharath once killed a young man in the forest who was fetching water for his blind parents. The blind parents cursed King Dasharath to die without his own beloved son one day. His Karma was to lose Rama and die in misery without Rama.
One of Dasharath's queens, Kaikeyi, saved his life on the battlefield and he granted her 2 boons. Queen Kaikeyi's maid servant convinced her to ask for the 2 boons right before Rama's coronation. Kaikeyi asked Dasharath to make her son, Bharata, the king and exile Rama to the forest for 14 years.
Dasharath was a man of honor, integrity and Dharma. He chose to put his wife's request first. Dharma is never easy. He had to choose between his son Rama, the Kingdom's wish for Rama to be crowned and a promise he made hjs wife (who didn't even need to use these boons, because he had promised her at their marriage to make her son king someday).
Rama was not forced. He unquestioningly, willingly and obediently went to the forest. Sita went along with Rama because as she says, "a shadow goes where the substance goes just as a wife goes where her husband goes."
All these decisions were based on Dharma (one's duty) and/or Karma (past actions).
Rama also did not betray Sita by sending her to the forest while she was pregnant with twins. Rama represents the soul, pure consciousness. Rama is perfection. Rama means having a bigger picture of this existence. So when humans like us begin to doubt and question Rama's decisions, it is literally proving how little we know and how disconnected we are from Ra-Ma (Ra = Light, Ma = Within me).
Rama has a very important reason as to why Sita must go back to the forest.
Of course, there is too much to say on this subject in one comment :) But I do urge people to seek out the truth about this epic tale and the real meaning behind it. I've written a post about it for anyone interested and plan to share many more over time."
"One thing I understood from our Epics and they were talking about humans who had high values, principle and were righteous. It doesn’t mean they never took wrong decisions. Lord Ram became Lord later, but when he was going through life he was as human as we are."
"I always felt pain with this story and then filled with love when seeing Luv and Kush’s love for their mother. Children are pure love ❤️"
"I feel always one is hurt the maximum by the people who love you the most in most unexpected ways ....Kaikeyi loved Lord Rama the most and yet she choose to banish him.... similarly Lord Rama loved Sita the most and yet choose to banish her most unexpectedly.... ofcourse reasons and explanations vary but my opinion is most loved ones give the most pain."
What is Rangoli?
How is Rangoli Made?
Shape, design and material can be influenced by regional traditions or personal preferences, but traditionally, a Rangoli is made using:
- Rice Flour
- Quartz Powder
- Flower Petals
Other Names for Rangoli Across India:
The Different Types of Rangolis
Once upon a time, there was a couple named Lopamudra and her husband Augustya, who lived like hermits in a far-off land.
She wanted to help decorate their place of worship so she prayed to the five elements. She collected blue from the sky, green from water, black from soil, red from fire and white from wind. She then added the colors to the rangoli made from ground rice, lentils, flowers and spices.
Potential Scientific Reason
Either powdered calcite and limestone or cereal powders were used for the basic design. Lime powder made from limestone can be used as a pesticide, therefore it may have been used to prevent insects from entering homes. Whereas, the cereal powders attract insects and deters them from entering the home.
What is meaning of Rangoli and from where it is derived?