India will soon be alight with the light of million Diyas as Hindus celebrate Diwali. For those unfamiliar with Diwali or Deepavali, it is the festival of lights. Sanskrit word Deepavali means – (Deep means Diya and Avali means a row) a row of lighted up Diyas or lamps. Hindus celebrate Diwali in the month of October or November on Kartik Amavasya, the new moon night of the month of Kartik every year.
It is traditionally known as the festival of lights Because in Diwali, each and every house is lit up with oil lamps, candles, or colorful lights. In the changing modern life, nowadays, many people replaced earthen lights with electrical lights, but the main concept of this glorious festival remains unchanged.
Significance Of Lighting Of Lamps In Diwali
According to Hindu philosophy, there is something beyond the physical body and mind. That is called Atman, which is pure, eternal, and infinite. Diwali is the celebration of the inner soul and inner light. In particular, it is known as outshining all darkness and awaken all individual’s nature as an unchanging and infinite reality. With this comes love and compassion. Most importantly, it brings inner joy or peace.
Diwali or Deepavali celebrates through fireworks, lights, worship to rejoice in the inner light or Atman.
Legends Behind Lighting Of Lamps
There are many legends behind the lighting of lamps on Diwali. Different cultures made different legends about this. Here are some famous legends :
1. Most of the parts of Northern India believe it was the time when Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya after 14 long years with his wife Sita and brother Laxmana. It was the end day of their exile. As Ram was the prince of Ayodhya, so on that day, people lit up lamps to celebrate their return. In this way, the tradition of lighting lamp went on and became prevalent in Diwali.
2. The very first day of Diwali is known as Dhanteras or Dhantryaodashi. Dhan means wealth. Many people believe that the old son of King Hima was doomed to die on his fourth day of marriage by a snake bite when he was only sixteen. On that fourth day, his sad wife lighted up many lamps and laid all her gold and silver ornaments at the entrance of her husband’s bedroom. When Yam-the god of death arrived, he became blinded by the lights. Then he left quietly, and the wife saved her husband. People believe lighting up candles or lamps on those nights can save people’s life from Yam- the god of death.
3. According to the Hindu Puranas, Goddess Laxmi is the goddess of prosperity, luck, and wealth. Laxmi was born from the Milk Ocean with magical objects like Amrita, Kamadhenu, Chintamani, etc. On Diwali, there is a day called Chopada Puja. Every year this day falls on Amavasya or dark night. On that day, many people worship pictures of Goddess Laxmi, sitting on a lotus flower. People lighted up candles and lamps, draw a rangoli pattern to welcome Laxmi in their house. Even poor people make sure to light up one candle on that day. The lamps are placed around the dark areas to remove dark with bright lights.
Many Hindus also decorate and light up lamps and candles in their office, home, business premises. They believe those lights and rangoli decorations welcome Laxmi -the god of prosperity and wealth. To indicate her arrival, they also draw small footprints with rice flour all over the house. Purchasing gold or silver or some utensils is the tradition followed by the Hindu women in this day.
4. According to Vishnu Puran, Lord Indra- the people of Gokul worshipped the god of weather. But one particular time, young lord Krishna stopped them from offerings and prayers. This made Indra very angry, and he sent a deluge to submerge Gokul. In this situation, Lord Krishna saved Gokul’s people by lifting up the Govardhan Mountain like an umbrella.
On this day, people in the temples of Mathura worship god by giving milk bath, dazzling ornaments made by rubies, pearls, diamonds, and other precious stones. After prayers, people make “Bhog” to offer god.
On this day, people also lit up candles to worship God by Arathi. Those lights are the symbol of their welcoming nature and prayers. This tradition is mostly followed by North Indian Hindus.
5. Dewali is a celebration for everyone. The last or final day of Diwali is called Bhaiya-Dooj. This day is the symbol of love between brothers and sisters. According to Hindu mythology, it was the day when Yamraj- the god of death visited his sister Yami’s house. She puts a tilak in her brother’s forehead, and then they ate food and enjoyed together. This gesture made Yamraj so happy that he announced that anyone who will receive this tilak from his sister would never be thrown on this particular day. After that, it became an important day for every brother and sister.
On that day, every sister light up Diya or a candle to protect her brother from any bad things.
6. According to the Vishnu Puran, Lord Krishna destroyed Demon Narakasura on that day. Narakasura was causing many problems amongst the people of Martya or the world. He used to kidnap and force young women to live with him. Eventually, Vishnu notices those bad things, and he came as Krishna to save people. And Krishna killed Narakasura on Diwali. Narakasura’s last hope was to bring joy to the people with his death.
Many Hindus follow the tradition to celebrate Narakasura’s death by lit up candles and lamps in their house.
The most important message of lighted lamps during Diwali
Most importantly, burning Diyas and lights destroy differences between poor and rich. Whether in a lavish bungalow or in a mud house, the burning candle stands for equality. A bunch of lamps can remove darkness totally. This teaches us about unity. This also teaches us about Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram- The truth, the joy, and the beauty as well. To cheer and joy, to remove darkness and negativity from the world, to bring happiness are the true intentions to lit up candles in Diwali.