Wednesday, October 22, 2014


LIGHTS AND HOW IS IT CELEBRATED? What is Diwali? Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. The actual day of Diwali is traditionally celebrated on the festival's third day, which this year falls on Thursday, October 23. 
The festival usually falls between the middle of October and the middle of November, although this is decided upon by the Hindu lunar calendar. While each faith has its own reason to celebrate the festival, one of the most popular stories told is the legend of Lord Rama and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom in northern India from exile after defeating the demon king Ravanna.

How is Diwali celebrated? The festival is marked by large firework displays, to remember the celebrations which, according to the legend, took place upon Rama's return as locals set off their own version of fireworks. Those celebrating the festival also light traditional earthen diyas (candles) and decorate their houses with colourful rangoli artworks - patterns created on the floor using coloured rice or powder. During Diwali, families and friends share sweets and gifts and there is also a strong belief in giving food and goods to those in need. 
It is also traditional for homes to be cleaned and new clothes to be worn at the time of the festival. The food most closely associated with the festival is Indian sweets, which come in a range of colours and flavours. The celebration however features various rich savoury and sweet dishes, and while eating out is popular, families will mostly prepare food at home for when guests arrive to exchange gifts and watch fireworks. 

India is in the midst of the five-day Diwali festival marking the New Year. The festival is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains for a variety of reasons, although the main theme which runs throughout is the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. Diwali or Deepavali means “row of lamps” in Sanskrit. Clay lamps, or diyas, traditionally filled with mustard oil, are lit and placed around the entrances to Hindu homes on the night before the new moon in the Hindu month of Kartika, which this year falls tomorrow, on Thursday, Oct. 23. To celebrate, houses are decorated with candles and colourful lights and huge firework displays are held while families feast and share gifts. Unlike traditional roast turkey at Christmas, which is eaten in many Western countries, each Hindu family celebrating Diwali will more than likely prepare for the festival the finest vegetarian cooking in the world, such as Gobi pakora, crisp cauliflower fritters jacketed in chickpea flour; Mutter paneer, made from peas and from cubes of fresh paneer curd cheese studding a Garam masala and tomato broth; and of course, many sweets, for example Laddu, Gulab jamun, Coconut burfi, etc. Our spiritual teachers have taught us that the festival celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and the return from exile of Lord Rama to his home, Ayodhya. We should understand that Ayodhya is our heart, and Lord Rama is the Lord of our hearts. Due to being very confused in this material world, we have banished the God of our hearts. So, as we light the earthen lamps during this Diwali, we must also illuminate our hearts with divine love and ward off the darkness of so many negative and evil thoughts that keep us away from our true position as well-wishers children of our Heavenly Father. (Editor's note).

After defeating Ravana, Rama gave back the kingdom to Vibhishna, the brother of Ravana, thus establishing an eternal legacy for the Hindus that they might not usurp any possession that does not belong to them.  Winning a war does not alter this principle.  After winning the war and releasing Sita from the wicked Ravana, the period of fourteen years was over.  It was time to return to Ayodha.  The people of Ayodha were most eagerly waiting for this day.  They welcomed their beloved Rama, along with Sita, Lakshman, and Hanuman, by lighting candles to welcome them. [...] Diwali, or Deepawali, as it is often called, is the Festival of Lights.  Undoubtedly, it is the most popular festival of Hindus. Nearly one billion Hindus celebrate this auspicious event with gusto and religious sentiment in all parts of world. Diwali signifies the return of Lord Rama, after completing his fourteen years of exile in the forest and winning victory over the wicked King Ravana.

Dr. Hiro Badlani:
“Hinduism - Path of the Ancient Wisdom”
Chapter 20 - “Victory of Righteousness over Unrighteousness”
Chapter 54 - “Hindu Festivals”

Published by dasavatara das - “Vedic Views on World News”

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