Deepavali or Diwali ~ The Festival of Lights

November 1, 2013 Comments Off on Deepavali or Diwali ~ The Festival of Lights


Deepa– means Light or clay lamp
Vali means row
Avali means holder
So Deepavali is a line of lights of clay lamps.
The word is often shortened as Diwali.

Deepavali is a festival that originated thousands of years ago in India, and is celebrated today in many countries where followers and descendants of many faiths live: Hindu Vaishvanites, Hindu Saivaites, Jains, Sikhs. It is woven into the fabric of India so that it is celebrated by the general population, usually called Diwali.

It is in the new moon or no moon or Amavasya day of the month of Ashwin [Hindu calendar] i.e. October or November.

It is an official holiday in India,Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.

Celebrations can last from 1-5 days, with each day having a specific significance.  Prayers, meeting family and relatives, exchanging of gifts form a part of this festival.

Legends related to Deepavali all signify the triumph of good over evil, of righteousness over treachery, of truth over falsehood, and of light over darkness.

Jainism: It marks anniversary of attainment of Nirvana of Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankar of this era.


Lakshmi Puja – Goddess Lakshmi blesses all with prosperity and abundance. [see below]

Lord Sri Krishna answered people’s prayers and killed the torturing demon  Narakasura . The people then celebrated narakasura’s defeat with sparkles, lights and crackers. This celebration was continued down the generations as Deepavali. [described below]

King Rama defeated the evil King Ravana who had kidnapped his wife Sita, and returned after 14 years to his Kingdom, Ayodhya, beginning 1000 years of ideal rule. [see below]

The business community takes it as a new year.



Diwali: One festival, many customs


Lakshmi Puja on Diwali
The primary or third day of Diwali festival is the most important one, for Lakshmi Puja and is entirely devoted to the goddess Lakshmi. On this day the sun passes Libra which is represented by the Balance or scale. Hence, this design of Libra is believed to have suggested the balancing of account books and their closing.

The day of Lakshmi Puja falls on the dark night of Amavasya. The strains of joyous sounds of bells and drums float from the temples as people invoke the goddess Lakshmi in a wonderous, holy pouring in of their hearts. All of a sudden the impenetrable darkness is pierced by innumerable rays of light for just a moment and the next moment a blaze of light descends down to earth from heaven as the golden-footed Lakshmi alights on earth in all her celestial glory amidst chantings of Vedic hymns.

A sublime light of knowledge dawns upon humanity and this self enlightenment is expressed through the twinkling lamps that illuminate the palaces of the wealthy as well as the lowly abodes of the poor. It is believed that on this day Lakshmi walks through the green fields and showers her blessings on humanity for plenty and prosperity.

The death of Narakasura – the origins of Diwali

Krishna said. ‘Narakasura! This is Satyabama…She is actually an incarnation of Bhumadevi…’ Both Satyabama and Narakasura looked at Krishna with surprise as Krishna continued, ‘She incarnated with the special purpose of defeating you…I could never have defeated you…Only Satyabama could…so I pretended to fall unconscious and the rest was done by her…’ Krishna said looking at Satyabama with pride.
Satyabama felt a deep understanding within herself. She realized the truth in Krishna’s words. She took Narakasura’s head in her lap and cried out, ‘My son! Why? Why did you have to follow such a dark path…Why did you…’
Narakasura stopped Satyabama, ‘No mother! You are not responsible for my choices…I chose wrongly and you fought me for what you believed as right…You have done the right thing…I am glad to call you my mother…’ Narakasura breathed his last….
Even to this day, Narakasura’s death is celebrated as the victory of light over darkness…It comes on the second day of Diwali as ‘Naraka chaturdasi’. Diwali which is a festival of lights actually celebrates the triumph of right over the wrong…
Satyabama took Aditi’s earrings and handed them over to Aditi…


Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman Return to Ayodhya

In Goswami Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas, the chapter called Uttara Kand describes Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman after a 14 year exile, and a war in which he kills Ravana, the demon king. They arrived in the Pushpak Viman.

Rama Sita Lakshman Pushpak Viman

Their return and the grand event of His coronation was celebrated in a way that was the precursor of Diwali today.  The citizens of Ayodhya lit ghee lamps to light their path in the darkness  greeting  Lord Ram  who would be their beloved King.

After 14 years of not seeing Rama at all, these lamps represented their love that was blazing uncontrollably in their hearts after years of separation. Lord Ramachandra, was seeing each of those flames as the personification of the pure love of His devotees and He was reciprocating with unlimited joy. That is Diwali – Welcoming the Lord back into our life after so many countless lifetimes of separation.

“That is Diwali – welcoming the Lord back into our life after so many countless lifetimes of seperation.”

Actually the Lord never leaves His abode of Vrindavan or Ayodhya, neither He leaves our hearts; but unless we love Him we cannot feel His presence.

Radhanath Swami


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