Description: This article provides information about how the abhyangasna is done during the festival of Diwāli.
Diwali is celebrated on four consecutive days – the thirteenth (Dhantrayodashī), the fourteenth (Narakchaturdashī) and the new moon day (Amāvasyā – Lakshmīpūjān) of the dark fortnight of Āshwin and the first day of the bright fortnight of Kārtik (Balipratipadā).
From the second day of Diwali, Narak Chaturdashi, till the fourth day of Diwali, Balipratipada, abhyangasnan (an auspicious bath) is daily recommended to obtain the spiritual benefits of the Diwali festival. In this article, we will explain how to do the abhyangasnan.
What is abhyangasnan (Ablution with oil)?
Bathing is a very important daily activity of our life. We all feel very fresh after having a bath. However, do you know that the abhyangasnan is spiritually more beneficial than the ordinary bath?
Abhyangasnan is getting up early in the morning, before sunrise, applying oil to the whole body and massaging till it is absorbed in the skin and then taking warm water bath / shower.
Physical benefits of abhyangasnan
Abhyangasnan consists of an oil massage to facilitate the absorption of oil in the skin. Once the oil has been absorbed in the skin, a warm water bath is taken. By applying oil to the skin, it retains elasticity. Warm water is auspicious and pleasing to the body. Bathing after an oil massage retains only the required amount of oiliness that the skin and hair require. Hence an oil massage is necessary before a bath. Application of oil to the skin after a bath is not beneficial.
Spiritual significance of abhyangasnan
When we have every day bath or shower, the Raja and Tama components in us decrease by 0.00001 % and the Sattva component in us increases by the same amount for the duration of three hours. However, when we do abhyangasnan, the reduction of Raja and Tama components and the increase in the Sattva component lasts for four to five hours.
One may feel that due to abhyangasnan a decrease or increase in subtle components by 0.00001% is an insignificant amount; however, if we try to understand it with a worldly analogy, abhyangasnan is similar to getting a bonus at our work. Spiritually, the God principle in us increases by that much amount, which otherwise would take many years of spiritual practice. Therefore, it is important to do abhyangasnan every day.
Steps of abhyangasnan
The individual wears a dhoti or shorts and sits on a flat wooden stool (2-3 inches high from the floor). If one finds it difficult to sit on flat wooden stool, one can sit on normal stool. The elderly woman in the house performs the ritual on the seated individual.
Material required :
Coconut oil (1 medium sized bottle), Ubatan (1 packet), pūjā platter (Kumkum (Vermilion), turmeric, akshatā, a lit ghee lamp)
- The elderly woman of the house applies tilak on the forehead of the individual.
- She takes the coconut oil in her palm and starts to apply it to the individual seated on the wooden stool, starting from top of the head to the toes.
- She mixes oil with ubatan in a copper plate and applies to the individual as stated above.
- Then she moves the ghee lamp around the individual three times in a semi-circular fashion. (starting from the individual’s right shoulder to the head and to his left shoulder and then back to the right shoulder is counted as one move) Now the individual goes to the bathroom. In the bathroom also, one should sit on a short stool.
- Start bathing by pouring first two mugs of warm water on the head.
- Take piece of ‘aghada or takada’ plant and move it around self in clockwise manner reciting the following mantra –
(If the leaves of aghada or takada are not available, one can pray and recite the mantra.)
- After the bath, one takes the names of Deities like Yama, et al. and releases water in a copper plate.
- Then he takes akshata in hand and releases water on it so that the akshata fall in the copper plate with the water. (While doing this he takes names of Deities like Yama, et al.)
- Afterwards, he gets up and stands facing the South direction, keeping his hands raised, he recites the following mantra ten times.
- Then the individual wears new clothes and the elderly woman again moves the lamp as given above in step 4. (Apply kumkum to the forehead; put akshata on the head, etc.)
- At the end, she gives the individual some sweet to eat.
Yamatarpan for those whose father has passed away
A plate, a glass, a spoon, black sesame seeds, water (Note: All the vessels should be preferably made of copper)
- Place a low wooden stool on the floor, (one may use a PVC stool if the low wooden stool is not available). Draw a rangolī around the stool.
- Keep the copper plate, glass filled with water, copper spoon in the glass, in front of the stool.
- Take half-spoonful of black sesame seeds and pour it in the glass of water.
- Do apasavya, that is, take the jānavē from the left shoulder to the right shoulder.
- Now, take spoonful of water and release it on the right hand palm, in such a way that the water falls from the pitru-tirtha (area between thumb and the index finger) into the plate below.
‘One should narrate the description of the time period (dēshkāl) during abhyangasnan. The manner of narration of the time period is peculiar among the Bharatiya(Indians). This encompasses everything from the birth of Deity Brahmâ to the duration of His reign, the current manvantar, the great era (mahâyug) in that manvantar and the sub-era (upayug) in that mahâyug. This will also give one an idea of the vast amount of time that has elapsed and is yet to come. Each one thinks he is great. It is only after narrating this vast time frame of the universe that one realizes how small and subtle one is ! This helps in reducing man’s vanity and is thus a great benefit.’
The scriptures have recommended abhyangasnan on five days of the year
- The commencement of the New Year (sanvatsar),
- The first day of the celebrations of the Vasant(spring) season, that is the first day of the dark fortnight of the month of Phâlgun,
- The three days of Diwali, namely the fourteenth and the new moon day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Âshwin and the first day of the bright fortnight of the month of Kârtik.
Source: Publication – Holy festivals, Religious festivals and Vowed religious observances, and Diwali video published by Sanatan.