Diwali is the festival of enlightenment. It urges us to light every corner of our mind and soul. Even the tradition of worshipping Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha, together, teaches us that wealth without wisdom, money without intelligence and richness without prosperity is nugatory. Millions of people across India and the world celebrate this wisdom – some by lighting diyas, some by floating them in the waters of the Golden Temple and others by worshipping Goddess Kali and Lord Krishna. Yes, Diwali truly strings India together as flowers in a ‘bandanwar’ and here is a little glimpse into it.
The valley of flowers celebrates Diwali as Sukhsuptika, which literally means ‘sleep with happiness’. Celebrations that start from Ekadeshi last till Diwali, the night of amavasya, when Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Sweet puris are then offered to Lord Narayan, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and diyas are lit in temples, on roads, under trees and even the banks of rivers. The darkness is conquered with light of happiness and belief.
In 1577 the foundation stone of The Golden Temple in Amritsar was laid on Diwali. And then Diwali attained unmatched significance when the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib returned safely from the captivity of the Mughals. True to his teachings, he also managed the release of 52 Indian Kings with him. When he headed to The Golden Temple, sweets were distributed and multi-coloured lights were floated on the waters there. The tradition continues to this day. Every year Sikhs across the world celebrate Diwali with sweets, light and fireworks. It symbolises the victory of good over greed, ego and hatred.
Every year people of Bengal, Orissa and Assam worship goddess Kali on Diwali. This festival is famous as Kali Puja, Shyama Puja or Dipanwita Kali Puja. According to the Hindu calendar the Kali Puja may fall on the same day as Diwali or a day ahead on the new moon day. Legend has it that Goddess Durga turned into an angry Goddess Kali to end the terrorising rule of demons Shambhu and Nishambhu. Such was the power of her anger that Lord Shiva had to throw himself at her feet to stop her from destroying everything in her path. People celebrate this pious occasion by making merry, wearing new clothes & jewellery, decorating their houses with flowers & rangoli and light diyas. People celebrate the win over negativity and pray for happiness, wealth and wisdom.
In Tamil Nadu, Diwali is celebrated a day before Diwali in northern India. Interestingly they celebrate Diwali in honour of Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabama victory over the demonic King Narkasura. Houses are renovated, painted and adorned with flowers and rangoli. Uniquely, on the second day of celebrations, an elaborate bath ritual takes place. This ritual symbolises a bath in the holy river Ganges to purify mind, body and soul. The elaborate ritual where elders bless the youngsters by applying oil in their heads and bathe with exotic herbs. This is then followed by the consumption of ‘Deepavali Lehiyan’, before breakfast. This is an Ayurvedic concoction of herbal ingredients that are believed to detoxify the body. Feasts are cooked which include boondi, poli, omapudi and more. Crackers are burst and ‘kuthu vilaku’ or diyas are lit to spread the light of goodness and prosperity in everyone’s life.
Diwali is the ultimate detoxification for our souls. Families come together, neighbours meet, friends take out time from their busy lifestyles over parties and prayers. The sense of inclusiveness and revelry negates any negativity within and leaves us with a beautiful glow of happiness in our lives. We at Kama Ayurveda wish that every day of your life is lit with this glow. Shubh Deepawali.