Diwali for us children was a time for fun and play. We bathed and changed into clean clothes. Our parents bought us plenty of sweets and colourful toys. They prepared the diyas -little lamps made from brass, clayware or dough- filled with ghee with cotton wicks. The best part of Diwali night was helping our parents with the Diyas, placed in every room, doorway, table, step, porch and pathway outside. We enjoyed looking at the Diyas as they flicker. The whole house would glow with the warmth and soft dancing lights of the Diyas. You felt warm and really happy.
Diwali, is a time for special prayers. Goddess Lakshmi, is specially worshipped at Diwali. Divine Mother Lakshmi, born out of the ocean of milk, is the Goddess of beauty, light, knowledge, purity, wealth and good fortune. Mother Lakshmi is celebrated in our mother, aunt, sister, wife, daughter and niece. Goddess Lakshmi comes out of a lotus flower, holds lotus flowers in her hands, the lotus flowers representing purity. Her other hands are giving. As Goddess of wealth Mother Lakshmi shares her wealth. Prayers to Mother Lakshmi (Lakshmi Pooja) give thanks for her blessings in the past year and for continued prosperity in the new year. Diwali lights attract Goddess Lakshmi, who will dwell in the home that is brightly lit, clean and tidy in the new year.
Goddess Saraswati and Lord Ganesh, in the company of Mother Lakshmi are also worshipped at Diwali. We pray to Saraswati, goddess of learning, music and the arts. We pray to Lord Ganesh, the all powerful elephant headed god of wisdom and good fortune, the remover of obstacles, for his blessings for success to attend all our undertakings.
Diwali or Dipaawali (Cluster of Lights) is the climax of the autumn Hindu festival season of worship and celebration of our heavenly Mother. It starts with Navratri (nine nights) worship of Mother Durga – Durga Maa.
Navratri celebrates Durga Maa’s nine powers, represented in nine forms. Colour, the Lord’s gift of visual splendour is vital in the celebrations. There is a different dress colour for each day/and night of Navratri festival. On the first day/night Durga as Shailaputri Maa, the daughter (putri) of the Himalaya mountains (shaila) is worshipped. The dress colour is bright red. Second: Bharmacharini –devout austerity, dress colour- royal blue. Third: Chandraghanta –possessor of great strength, colour – yellow. Fourth: Kushmanda -creator of the universe, colour – green. Fifth: Skanda Mata -vanquisher of demons, colour – grey. Sixth: Katyayani –sage Kata’s daughter, colour – orange. Seventh: Saptami-protector of devotees, colour -white. Eighth, Maha Gauri -epitomy of purity, colour – pink. Ninth: Siddhidatri –supernatural healer, colour – sky blue. Dusshera festival follows at the end of Navratri on the tenth day and night. Dusshera celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over demon Ravana. 20 days after Dusshera ,we celebrate Diwali.
Diwali celebrates many great events for Hindus: the marriage of Divine Mother Lakshmi to Lord Vishnu; the death of wicked king Naraksura at the hands of Lord Krishna; Lord Vishnu’s humbling of arrogant Balli; the day Great King Vikram Aditya ascended his throne; the visit of generous King Mahaballi; the return of Princess Deepa, and prosperity to her kingdom. Goddess Kali is worshipped at Diwali, to banish all evil from the world. Diwali celebrates the end of Lord Rama’s 14 years in exile, and his triumphant return to assume his rightful place as king. Millions of lights showed the way to Holy City Ayodhya, itself aglow with lights on Diwali night. On Diwali night, Pitrus, departed souls, flickering as lights, ascend to the heavens
The prime significance of Diwali is universally celebrated. There is the triumph of good over evil, right over wrong, light over darkness. The lights of Diwali symbolise knowledge, the dark night, ignorance. Diwali lights are our prayer, as in this Sanskrit verse in the Upanishad in Hindu scripture:
‘Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya; Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya; Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya.’ ‘Lead us O Lord from falsehood to truth, from the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowledge and from death to immortality.’’
Love, best regards and warmest Diwali greetings from Vidur and family.