The Diwali Period

October 30, 2006 at 7:12 am Leave a comment

21/9/2006  The Diwali Period

The story goes that Hanuman was sent by Rama to Ayodhya the day before Rama’s arrival as prearranged with Bharat to let the residents of Ayodhya know how Sita and Rama and all Their retinue were returning. This was five days before Diwali, and after the Vijaya dasami (victory of Rama) celebration.

The story behind of “Diwali”

King Dashrath ruled the rich and prosperous city of Ayodhya.  He had three wives and Kaikayi was his favourite.  She saved his life in a war at a very crucial time.  Dashrath granted her two favours for saving his life.  Dashrath had four sons.  Rama, the oldest, was everybody’s favourite.  He was married to the beautiful and devoted Sita.  Just before Ram’s coromation, Kaikayi reminded Dashrath of her two favors.  She told him to crown Bharat as king and to banish Ram to the jungle for fourteen years.Her wishes were granted. The old king Dashrath later died of a broken heart. After a few years in the forest, Sita was lured by the demon king Ravana.  Rama, with the help of a monkey general, Hanuman, rescued Sita and defeated Ravana. After fourteen years in exile Ram and Sita and returned to Ayodhya. It is in Their honor that “Diwali” is celebrated.  “Diwali” signifies the victory of good over evil. Today in India for Diwali all the shops are decorated brightly.  Many people make “rangoli”  in their house or outside.  They are filled to capacity in this festive season.  Everybody buys new things and decorates their homes.  People visit their friends and relatives and give them sweets. On Diwali friends come over for the whole day and relatives come and go.  Everyone has a wonderful time celebrating the return of Sita and Rama. Thus Diwali has become a day when all the sad things of the past are forgotten and happy times are remembered. On the early morning of Deepavali (before Sunrise of Krishna Paksha Chathurthi of Iypaasi Month), Maha Lakshmi resides in oil and Ganga Devi stays in the waters. For the sake of chasing away poverty / inauspiciousness, One should take an oil bath and wash oneself with hot water and thereafter wear new clothes. This is referred to in more detail below.

The First Day of Diwali

The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Trayodasi, also Dhan Theras. It is the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksh (the dark fortnight) of the  month of Kartika. On this day, Lord Dhanvantari appeared, delivering  Ayurvedic medicine for mankind. This day marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations. On this day at sunset,  Hindus bathe and offer oil lamps with prasada (sanctified food) to Yamaraja  (the Lord of Death) and pray for protection from untimely death.

The Second Day of Diwali

The second day of Diwali is called Naraka Chaturdasi. It is the fourteenth  lunar day of the dark fortnight of the month of Kartika and the eve of  Diwali. On this day, Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasura and  liberated the 16,000 princesses which the demon held captive.

The Third Day of Diwali (actual Diwali)

This is the actual day of Diwali, the Hindu New Year, when worship unto  Mother Lakshmi is performed. Hindus cleanse themselves and join with their  families and their Pandit (priest) and worship the divine Goddess Lakshmi,  the consort of Lord Vishnu, to achieve the blessings of wealth and  prosperity, and triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Historically, Bali Maharaja, who had captured Laksmi, was defeated on this  day by Lord Krishna’s dwarf brahmana incarnation, Vamanadeva. This is also  the day on which Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya, having successfully rescued  Sita and defeated the demon, Ravana. (See: “Origins of Diwali,” below.) 

The sweeter reason why Diwali is celebrated is the celebration of binding Krishna with ropes of love called Urja-vrata. Urja-vrata is observed in the month of Karttika (October-November); especially in Vrndavana, there is a specific program for temple worship of the Lord in His Damodara form. “Damodara” refers to Krsna’s being bound with rope by His mother, Yasoda. It is said that just as Lord Damodara is very dear to His devotees, so the month known as Damodara or Karttika is also very dear to them.

The chief aim of observing this Urjja-vrata is to please Sri Radha-Damodara. Srimati Radharani is called Urjjesvari (the Queen of the Urjja-vrata). Only because of this, in order to establish the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha-Damodara, the sage Satyavrata Muni uttered (in the eight verse of Damodarastaka) the words namo radhikayai tvadiya priyayai – “My obeisances unto Radhika, Your most beloved.”.

The Fourth Day of Diwali

On this day, Govardhana Puja is performed. Many thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna caused the people of Vraja to perform Govardhana Puja. Fromthen on, every year, Hindus worship Govardhana to honour that first Pujadone by the people of Vraja. It is written in the Ramayana that when the bridge to Lanka was being built  by the Vanara army, Hanuman (a divine loyal servant of Lord Rama possessing  enormous strength) was bringing a mountain as material to help with the  construction of the bridge. When a call was given that enough materials had  already been obtained, Hanuman placed the mountain down before He reached  the construction site. Due to lack of time, he did not return the mountain  to its original place. The deity presiding over this mountain spoke to Hanuman asking of his reason  for leaving the mountain there. Hanuman replied that the mountain should  remain there until the age of Dvapara when Lord Rama incarnates as Lord  Krishna, who will shower His grace on the mountain, and will instruct that  the mountain be worshiped not only in that age  but in ages to come. This  deity whom Hanuman spoke to was none other than Govardhana (an incarnation of Lord Krishna), who manifested Himself in the form of the mountain. To fulfill this decree, Govardhan Puja was performed and this celebration is  continued to this day.
The Fifth Day of Diwali
The fifth day of the Diwali is called Bhratri Dooj.This is the day after Govardhana Puja is performed and normally two days after Diwali day. It is a day dedicated to sisters. We have heard about Raksha Bandhan (brothers day). Well this is sisters day. Many moons ago, in the Vedic era, Yama (Yamaraja, the Lord of Death) visited  His sister, Yamuna, on this day. He gave his sister a Vardhan (boon) that  whoever visits her on this day shall be liberated from all sins. They will  achieve moksha, or liberation.  From then on, brothers visit their sisters on this day to enquire of  Their welfare, and many faithful bathe in the holy waters of the Yamuna river. This day marks the end of the five days of Diwali celebrations. This day is also known as Bhai Fota among Bengalis. Bhai Fota is an event  especially among Bengalis when the sister prays for her brother’s safety,  success and well being.

The Origin of Diwali

According to the epic Ramayana, Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama, an incarnation of Krishna and the eldest son of King Dasharath of Ayodhya, from his 14-year exile with Sita and Lakshman after killing Ravana, a demon king. The people of Ayodhya illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and fireworks to celebrate the return of their king. In rural areas of India, Diwali, which occurs at the end of a growing  season, signifies Harvest Festival. Harvests normally spelt prosperity.  After reaping their harvest, farmers celebrated with joy and offered praises to God for granting them a good crop. At the time of the reign of Emperor Prithu, for example, there was a  worldwide famine. He ordered that all available cultivatable lands be  ploughed. When the rains came, the land became very fertile and grains were  planted. The harvest provided food not only to feed all of India, but for  all civilisation at the time. This harvest was close to Diwali time and was  a good reason to celebrate Diwali with great joy and merriment by a wider  community. When Lord Krishna destroyed Narakasura on the day before Diwali, the news of  it travelled very rapidly throught the land. It gave people who were already in a joyful mood another reason for celebrating Diwali with greater pride and elaboration. In the Adi Parva of the Mahabarata, the Pandavas returned from the forest  during Diwali time. Once more, the celebrations extended beyond the  boundaries of India to wherever Hindus lived.

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