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Deepavali (Diwali) - a spiritual celebration


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1. Introduction to Deepavali (Diwali)

The word Deepavali is a combination of two words, deep (lamp or diyas) + avali (row). Thus deepavali is a line or a row of lamps so during the festival of Deepavali (also known as Diwali), lamps are lit everywhere. Hence Diwali is also known as the 'Festival of Lights'. It is celebrated on four consecutive days - the thirteenth, the fourteenth and the new moon day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu lunar month Āshwin and the first day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month Kārtik. These days are celebrated as Dhanatrayodashī (Dhan Teras), Narakchaturdashī, Lakshmīpūjān and Balipratipadā respectively.

Some exclude the thirteenth day and consider only the remaining three days as Deepavali. Since the festival of Vasubaras (a celebration held in the honour of cows) and Bhaubij (also called as bhai duj, a festival honouring the bond between brother and sister) respectively precede and follow Deepavali they are included as a part of Deepavali. However, in reality, these are separate Holy festivals.

2. The science behind celebrating Deepavali*

During the four months preceding Deepavali, the Absolute fire principle (j tattva) is almost absent in the atmosphere. As a result of this, in earlier times, mighty demons used to dominate and trouble the masses. To be able to counter their threat effectively, Deepavali, which is the worship based on the Absolute fire principle, was celebrated. So Deepavali stands for destroying the distressing elements that dominate the environment, with the Absolute fire principle.

3. Some rituals performed during Deepavali

  1. On the evening of Dhanatrayodashi, thirteen wheat flour lamps with oil in them, are lit and kept outside the house, facing southwards.

  2. A lantern (Ākāshdeep) is hung above the main door, on the right side. This symbolises the active Divine energy. The lantern cleanses the atmosphere spiritually.

  3. While doing Lakshmipujan (the worship of Goddess Lakshmī - Goddess of Wealth), unbroken rice is used to draw an image of either an eight petalled lotus or a swāstik, on a slightly elevated rectangular platform made of wood (chaurang). The Goddess' idol is then kept on it and invoked.

  4. On all three days, from Narakchaturdashi to Balipratipada, a Holy bath (abhyangsnān) is taken in the morning.

  5. On the second day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik (Bhaubij, also known as Bhaiyyaduj in North India) a woman waves a lit lamp (aukshan) around her brother, if she does not have a brother then she should consider the moon to be her brother and perform aukshan to it.

4. Message from H.H. Pande Maharaj on the occasion of Deepavali

Shrīkrushna liberated the troubled masses from immorality, greed and bad tendencies by slaying the demon Narakasur, who was an icon of demonic attitude. Deepavali symbolises this conquest of Divine thoughts over evil tendencies. Today, unfortunately, Deepavali is celebrated just as a cultural festival, without an understanding of its spiritual context.

However, if people learn, appreciate and understand about this spiritual context then all the ills in society; caused by spiritual ignorance, carnal and bad tendencies, would get reduced and even the dominance of immoral people over the pious masses will subside.

Therefore, igniting the flame of one's soul with spiritual passion, by reducing all worldly attachments can be known as true "Deepavali."
The increased power of piousness will lend happiness to everyone. This is possible by sacrificing our carnal pleasures without any expectations. The Upanishads have advised to seek pleasure in the reduction of that very pleasure itself !

'God, through this Deepavali, please light the bright flame of doing every action without any expectations in our hearts.  We have surrendered ourselves unto you completely. Please give us the spiritually pure (Sattvik) intellect (sadbuddhi) and strength to spread these noble thoughts to everyone so that we can become like a single earthen lamp that ignites multiple lamps around it. Through this we would be graced to celebrate 'Deepavali' in its truest purpose and spirit. Wishing everybody a Blissful Deepavali!'

- P.P. Pande Baba Maharaj, Akola, India.

5. Deepavali - a festival that celebrates the destruction of unrighteous demons

The fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu lunar month Ashwin (Narakchaturdashi), has been celebrated ever since Shrīkrushna slayed the evil demon Narakasur. On the day of Lakshmipujan (worshipping the Goddess Lakshmi), rituals are undertaken to drive off poverty (Alakshmi).
The first day of the bright fortnight of Kartik (Balipratipada) is celebrated to symbolise Deity Vishnu's conquest over the demon king, Bali.
Bhaubij celebrates the slaying of the evil demon Shakatasur by Shrīkrushna and the Bliss experienced by the multitudes of women He liberated from the demon's clutches. It celebrates the Divine bond of love between brother and sister.

Hindu culture tells us that every day of Deepavali represents the conquest of good over evil, piousness over immorality and virtue over vice; all illuminated by the Deepavali lamps.

Today, Deepavali is celebrated in such a way, that it shows, that all the above has unfortunately either been forgotten or just remained as a namesake. Hence we are losing on an opportunity of getting the full benefit of the Divine Consciousness (Chaitanya) that is integral to all our festivals and celebrations.

On the occasion of Deepavali, let us decide to be Dharma educated and also to make efforts to live Dharma through every small action at a personal and societal level.

* Based on Divine Knowledge received by some seekers doing sādhanā per Gurukrupāyoga.

To know more about this Divine Knowledge please visit the about us section of this website.


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