Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A Poem and an Article about the Festival of Lights !


'Diwali Spells Unity in Diversity '

Diwali legends are many
Narakasura tale popular in South
Balipadya celebrated in Karnataka
Rama's home coming brings aananda in Ayodhya !!

Deepams and diyas brighten Deepavali
Festival of lights indeed delights every year
Savories and sweets plenty and tasty
Fire crackers fly fast the thunderous sky !!

Grand mothers act as time keepers on the day
Wake up family members in wee hours
'Narakachathurthy-Snanam' equals the bath in Ganges
People adorn new clothes to shine and smile !!

Bell ringing Lakshmi puja begins
Aroma of incense pervades the hall
People gather and sing prayers
Brings an ambiance serene and divine !!

Welcoming the newly weds a customary art
Their first Diwali abounds joy around
The Head of the family balances the budget
The Lady of the house a king-pin in the celebrations !!

Regions Places People many
Diwali celebrations vary in style
The Festival of Light is only one
Brings joy and unity year after year !!

A Happy Deepavali to all !!


'Deepavali brings Enlightenment' !!
- P.Natarajan

Deepavali is a national festival in India and is celebrated with charisma and splendor. 'Deep' in Sanskrit means 'diyas' or small clay lamps filled with oil and Deepavali translates into 'row of lamps', or more popularly as 'Festival of Lights'. The most significant meaning is 'the awareness of inner light' as the saying of Upanishads goes 'Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya' meaning ' lead us from darkness to light'. There is something beyond the physical body which is sacred, infinite, eternal and pure called 'Atman'. Awareness of Atman dispels darkness and ignorance which brings 'ananda', bliss or enlightenment.

Deepavali falls in October-November on the day before the New Moon (Amavasya). People get up early in the morning when the lady of the house who is also a 'Graha Lakshmi' places a dash of sesame oil on the forehead of family members. Goddess Lakshmi is believed to reside in the oil and the oil bath which follows is considered equivalent to a bath in the holy Ganges river. New clothes are worn and children prostrate before the elders to seek their blessings. There is a loud festive joy and excitement everywhere with the bursting of crackers to mark the occasion. Special sweets and savories await every one for consumption and distribution.

Deepavali abounds with mythology and folklore:-

According to Vishnupuranam, it was the day Goddess Lakshmi emerged from the Ksheerasagara' (ocean of milk) during the great churning of the ocean (samudhra manthan). It is also believed that on this auspicious day Lord Vishnu married Goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi who symbolises wealth, health and prosperity is worshipped on the occasion of Deepavali.

Srimad Bhagavatham reveals that in Treta Yuga Lord Vishnu in his fifth incarnation as 'Vamana' vanquished the demon King Mahabali and rescued Lakshmi from the prison on Deepavali day. In Karnataka, this day is celebrated as 'Balipadyami'.

The slaying of Narakasura in Dwaparayuga by Lord Krishna is the most popular legend associated with Deepavali. The demon requested Lord Krishna that the day be remembered as end of evil and resurgence of prosperity and celebrated with festive joy and happiness.' Narakachathurdasi Snanam' , the oil bath in the wee hours henceforth got associated with Deepavali.

The Epic Mahabharata unfolds that it was on Kartik Amavasya when the Pandavas reappeared from their 12 years of banishment into Hastinapura when people accorded a great and joyous welcome to them by illuminating the entire State with diyas which tradition is maintained to this day.

People of Ayodhya celebrated grandly the homecoming of Sri Rama after his killing Ravana by bursting crackers and lighting small clay lamps through out the City
Another folklore is how Lord Krishna saved the people of Gokula from the torrential rains. Indra, the Rain god sent down in wrath to flood the entire village. Lord Krishna lifted the Govardan Mountain with his little finger as an umbrella protecting the whole village. People offer on Diwali day the food to Lord Krishna as a thanks giving act for protecting the crops from the slaughter of rains.

Legendary King Vikramaditya known for his valour and wisdom was coronated on Diwali day.

Deepavali commemorates the enlightenment of Vardhman Mahavir which symbolises the emancipation of human spirit from earthly desires. Even today Jains celebrate "Dipalika" which translates into splendorous light of lamps in remembrance of Nirvana of Mahavira on Oct15, 527 BC on Chthurdasi of Kartika..

It is a special day for Sikhs. Their 6th religious leader Guru Hargobind who was held in Gwalior Fort by King Jahangir was freed from imprisonment. It was also on the same auspicious occasion of Deepavali when the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid in 1577A.D.

It is on Diwali, Swami Dhayananda Saraswathi attained Nirvana and became Maharishi Dayananda when he founded Aryasamaj.

In Maharashtra, the traders and business people attach importance to Diwali and perform Lakshmi Puja. The Bombay Stock Exchange performs a token bidding called " Muhurta Bidding' on this day.

In Bengal Kali Puja is observed and the city of Kolkata is lit up with grandiosity

In Goa and Konkan, effigies of Narakasura are burnt around
4 O' clock in the morning the following day symbolizing the victory of good over evil.

In Gujarat, the five days celebrations begin with presenting 'Dhanteras gifts' like silver, gold jewelry, cleansing, painting of houses and performing Hanuman puja and the second day is for worshipping Kali ( Kali Choudas ) who killed the wicked demon Raktavija
The third day is Chopda Pujan, which is very significant to the business community, when ledgers and new account books are opened offering a special prayer to Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi.. The fourth day is considered auspicious and called 'Bestavarsh", the New Year'. Bha duj-the sacred bond between brother and sister is observed during Diwali celebrations in some parts of the North India.

Diwali is celebrated in different parts of the world particularly where large populations of Indian and Hindu origin reside. In USA the festival is assuming importance year after year. US Congress has given official status for Deepavali festival in 2007. Barack Obama became the first President to personally attend Diwali at the White House in 2009. The Diwali Mela in the world famous domed 'Cowboys Stadium' in Arlington, Texas boasted an attendance of one lakh people in the same year. San-Antonia became the first US city to sponsor official celebrations including fireworks display with 5000 people in attendance.

'Narakasura, Ravana, Mahabali' are all within us. Festival of Deepavali reminds us to overcome from the evils and forge ahead with a clear thinking for the good of mankind.

Deepavali Greetings to all the readers who are going through with keen interest this special bumper Deepavali edition of 'Malaicharal' magazine. .

'Sarve janaha sukino bhavanthu' .
May all be blessed with happiness
and auspiciousness !


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