Diwali or Deepawali (series of light in Sanskrit) is among the most auspicious festivals celebrated across India and few other neighbouring countries. Known as the festival of lights, Diwali celebration has spread wings beyond boundaries as globalisation poured in. In Hindu philosophy, there is a central belief that there exists something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Aatma. So, pundits express Diwali as the celebration of inner light over spiritual darkness, knowledge over ignorance, right over wrong and good over evil. There is also general believe that Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana when the entire capital city of Ayodhya was lightened with lamps.
Celebration of Diwali means worship of various Gods, rangoli – creative colourful floor designs, decorations, lighting of diya, candle or lamps, sweets and snacks, gifts, firecrackers and participate in traditional ceremonies and rituals.
Let’s understand few hidden facts till the celebration of Diwali:
- Vak Baras orVasu Baras or Bagh Baras
- Naraka Chaturdashior Kali Chaudas
- Diwali followed by New Year celebration
Vasu Baras: In many parts of India Diwali celebration starts with Vasu Baras or Bagh Baras or Vak Baras. Vasu means Cows and is considered sacred in Hinduism. Devotees often refer to the cow as ‘Mother’ out of gratitude. On this day cows are worshipped. According to Hindu mythology, while churning the milk ocean for nectar, five wish-fulfilling cows called kamadhenus emerged out of the ocean. One of these cows was Nanda, the divine animal that is worshipped on the day of Vasu Baras.
Dhanteras: Most common understanding of Dhanteras is that one worships Dhan (money or wealth) on this day. But in mythology refers to Dhanvantari- the god of Medicine and physician of the Gods who emerged with the Kumbh of Amrit (Nectar). So, Dhanteras is celebrated to take care of the health but people commonly buy precious metals on this date.
Naraka Chaturdashi, Kali Chaudas or Choti Diwali: According to Hindu literature, on this day demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna, Satyabhama and Kali. The day is celebrated by early morning bath and religious rituals after which festivities follow on.
Diwali: This is the day Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) is worshipped. Literature indicates that Diwali begins on the day Lakshmi was born from the churning of the milk ocean for amrita; the night of Diwali is the day Lakshmi chose Vishnu as her husband and then married him. Many Hindus worship deities such as Kali, Ganesha, Saraswati, and Kubera on this day. Diwali is celebrated on the darkest night of the Hindu luni-solar month of Kartika. The following day of Diwali is celebrated as the New Year day.
As Hinduism deeply believes in inner light, its prayers have celebrated light from since time immortal. One of the most popular Vedic prayer signifies light as below:
असतो मा सद्गमय । (Asato ma sat gamaya |): From untruth lead us to Truth
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय । (Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya |): From darkness lead us to Light.
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय । (Mrityu ma amrutam gamaya |): From death lead us to Immortality.
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥ (Om shanti shanti shantihi ||): Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
(From Brhadaranyaka Upanishad)