Learn the True Meaning of Diwali
Diwali, the festival of lights, is perhaps India’s most famous festival, popularised in movies and in the media. Unfortunately not many people know the true meaning of Diwali, or all of the customs associated with this festival.
Everyone knows that Diwali is celebrated over 5 days and what each day is celebrated as. But not many know that there are some rituals that start even before these five days.
Meaning of Diwali:
Diwali falls on the 20th day after Dussehra in the Indian calendar. The first full moon after Dussehra is celebrated as Karwa Chauth in north India and Kojagiri in Maharashtra.
Vasu Baras is celebrated after this full moon, on Ashwin Krishna Dwadashi according to the Marathi calendar. It is a day for honouring cows, and especially worshipping cows who have recently calved. The cow is held sacred by hindus because of her selfless service by providing milk which sustains life.
The celebrations are started off with Dhanteras considered an auspicious day for buying anything new, especially any metal object. It marks the day Dhanvantari emerged from the ocean during the Samudra Manthan with the knowledge of Ayurveda to cure ailments.
One meaning of Diwali is a celebration of Lord Krishna’s victory over the dreaded Asura (demon) Naraka, and hence the second day is also called ‘Narak Chaturdashi’. It is believed that Narakasura begged for forgiveness at death, and Krishna decreed that hiseath would forever be celebrated with great joy. On this day, Hindus massage their bodies with oil and bathe before sunrise with fragrant herbs so that they are fully invigorated to celebrate the festival.
On the third day, Mata Lakshmi is worshipped, that she may always bestow her blessings upon the family and never leave their abode. It is the Hindu belief that it is the Goddess Lakshmi who grants wealth, and therefore it is necessary to acknowledge that fact and please her.
The fourth day is Padwa, and is the new year according to the Gujrati calendar. In Maharashtra, women receive gifts from their husbands. In north India, Gowardhan Puja is performed to commemorate Lord Krishna’s lifting of mountGowardhan.
The fifth day is celebrated as Bhai Dooj or Bhau Beej, where sisters pray for the well being of their brothers, and receive blessings and gifts.
While lighting lamps, wearing new clothes, giving and receiving gifts and bursting crackers is how most people celebrate, the real meaning of Diwali is far deeper than all this.
Lighting lamps signifies dispelling ignorance and driving away darkness, to glorify the light of God. The earthen diyas which are lit around homes signify God’s light which shines through the ignorance and sin of the people. By lighting lamps all around, Hindus call to God to drive away anger, pain and ignorance. That is the true meaning of this festival.