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“Deepavali” “festival of lights” Begins

2:05 PM, Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
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Diwali Mangaluru : The city is busy in Diwali celebrations for three days from Nov. 10 to 13. People crouded to buy Diyas, Lantern, Lights, Flowers to celebrated Deepavali in grandeur. Diwali is more than a “festival of lights”. The word “deepavali” is a Sanskrit word meaning “the array of lights”. The festival is celebrated are slightly different from the customs followed in North India. Diwali falls on the fifteenth day of the dark fortnight of Ashwin, the seventh month according to the Hindu calendar. During Diwali, the entire country indulges in lighting candles and clay lamps. The women engaged in preparations and the kids engage in entertainment like busting crackers. The day before Diwali, women indulge in cleaning and decorating the house. In south India, Diwali is a four-day festival celebrated in commemoration of the victory of lord Krishna over the demon Naraka. Apart from the rituals, the celebration part is akin to that of North India. Bursting crackers is common to all parts of the country.

DiwaliThe Legend
In the era of Lord Krishna, there was a cruel and powerful king named ‘Narakasura’, who captivated thousands on inhabitants. Lord Krishna defeated and killed him and smudged his blood on his forehead on returning home the next morning, before sunrise. Narakasura’s mother declared that the death of her son is a conquest of good over evil and that it should not be day of regret, rather a day to rejoice. Therefore, when Lord Krishna returned he applied scented oil all over his body before taking bath. Since then, on the occasion of Diwali, the people of south India wake up before sunrise and take an early bath.

Another legend is of King Bali, who was extremely powerful and ambitious while at the same time, equally benevolent. Even the Gods started fearing him and requested lord Vishnu to stop him from possible attack on heaven. Lord Vishnu incarnated as a dwarf Brahmin called Vamana, paid a visit to King Bali and asked for three feet of land, which he could cover with three steps. Bali agreed to it, thinking it was a minor request, but little did he know about the consequences. Once Bali granted him the wish, Vamana grew up and became a gigantic figure that he covered the earth in his first step, heaven and netherworld in second step and there was nothing left for his third step. On asking for his third step of land, Bali bowed down to offer his head as the third place to keep his promise. Lord Vishnu stepped on his head and pushed him to “Patal Lok”. But Lord Vishnu was impressed by his generosity and his adherence to his words, so he granted him the blessing of reappearing on earth to spread knowledge and also that he will be remembered for his kindness.

DiwaliThe Rites
The eldest of the family members applies sesame oil on the heads of all the other members of the family. The bath begins with the youngest one in the family, with the breaking of bitter fruits before bath and the application of kumkum paste. The fruit signifies the head of Narakasura and the kumkum paste the blood. People decorate their houses with rangoli, beetle leaves, flowers, essense sticks, etc. and also indulge in the preparation of traditional sweets typical to the regions of South India.

The evenings are characterized by the lighting of candles to welcome Goddess Lasksmi, which is followed in north India as well. Before bursting fireworks, they offer a special puja to their ancestors as they believe that their souls depart on Diwali. The rest of the evening is drowned in the noise of crackers and merry making.

Deepawali or Diwali is certainly the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. It’s the festival of lights (deep = light and avali = a row i.e., a row of lights) that’s marked by four days of celebration, which literally illumines the country with its brilliance, and dazzles all with its joy. This year Diwali falls on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. Each of the four days in the festival of Diwali is separated by a different tradition, but what remains true and constant is the celebration of life, its enjoyment and goodness.

DiwaliThe Origin of Diwali

Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival. However, there are various legends pointing to the origin of Diwali or ‘Deepawali.’ Some believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. Whereas in Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali, the dark goddess of strength. Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, the symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshiped in most Hindu homes on this day. In Jainism, Deepawali has an added significance to the great event of Lord Mahavira attaining the eternal bliss of nirvana.

Diwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen year long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.

DiwaliThese Four Days

Each day of Diwali has its own tale, legend and myth to tell. The first day of the festival Naraka Chaturdasi marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

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Amavasya, the second day of Deepawali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the tyrant Bali, and banished him to hell. Bali was allowed to return to earth once a year, to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance, and spread the radiance of love and wisdom. It is on the third day of Deepawali — Kartika Shudda Padyami that Bali steps out of hell and rules the earth according to the boon given by Lord Vishnu. The fourth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj) and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

The Significance of Lights & Firecrackers

All the simple rituals of Diwali have a significance and a story to tell. The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with firecrackers is an expression of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity. According to one belief, the sound of fire-crackers are an indication of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state. Still another possible reason has a more scientific basis: the fumes produced by the crackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitoes, found in plenty after the rains.

The Tradition of Gambling

The tradition of gambling on Diwali also has a legend behind it. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva, and she decreed that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the ensuing year. Diwali is associated with wealth and prosperity in many ways, and the festival of ‘Dhanteras’ (‘dhan’ = wealth; ‘teras’ = 13th) is celebrated two days before the festival of lights.

From Darkness Unto Light…

In each legend, myth and story of Deepawali lies the significance of the victory of good over evil; and it is with each Deepawali and the lights that illuminate our homes and hearts, that this simple truth finds new reason and hope. From darkness unto light — the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds, that which brings us closer to divinity. During Diwali, lights illuminate every corner of India and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of fire-crackers, joy, togetherness and hope. Diwali is celebrated around the globe. Outside India, it is more than a Hindu festival, it’s a celebration of South-Asian identities. If you are away from the sights and sounds of Diwali, light a diya, sit quietly, shut your eyes, withdraw the senses, concentrate on this supreme light and illuminate the soul.

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