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Diwali in history
Diwali in history
The name "Diwali" is a contraction of "Deepavali" (Sanskrit: दीपावली Dīpāvalī), which translates into "row of lamps" Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (dīpa in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.These lamps are kept on during the night and one's house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome. Firecrackers are burst in order to drive away evil spirits. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.
The history of Diwali is replete with legends and these legends are moored
to the stories of Hindu religious scriptures, mostly the Puranas. Though the
central theme of all legends point out to the classic truth of the victory
of the good over the evils, the mode of their presentation and the
characters differ. Diwali, being the festival of lights, lighting the lamp
of knowledge within us means to understand and reflect upon the significant
purpose of each of the five days of festivities and to bring those thoughts
in to the day to day lives.
The five day of Diwali
The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari
Triodasi also called Dhan Theras. The second day of Diwali is called Narak
Chaturdasi. It is the fourteenth lunar day (thithi) of the dark forthnight
of the month of Kartik and the eve of Diwali. On this day Lord Krishna
destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear. The third
day of Diwali is the actual Diwali. This is the day when worship for Mother
Lakshmi is performed. On the fourth day of Diwali, Goverdhan Pooja is
performed. The fifth day of the diwali is called Bhratri Dooj. It is a day
dedicated to sisters.
The Story of Rama and Sita: Lord Rama was a great warrior
King who was exiled by his father Dashratha, the King of Ayodhya, along with
his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman, on his wife's insistence.
Lord Rama returned to his Kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, in which
he put an end to the demon Ravana of Lanka, who was a great Pundit, highly
learned but still evil dominated his mind. After this victory of Good over
Evil, Rama returned to Ayodhya. In Ayodhya, the people welcomed them by
lighting rows of clay lamps. So, it is an occasion in honor of Rama's
victory over Ravana; of Truth's victory over Evil.
The Story of King Bali and Vamana Avatar(the Dwarf):
other story concerns King Bali, who was a generous ruler. But he was also
very ambitious. Some of the Gods pleaded Vishnu to check King Bali's power.
Vishnu came to earth in the form of a Vamana(dwarf) dressed as priest. The
dwarf approached King Bali and said "You are the ruler of the three
worlds: the Earth, the world above the skies and the underworld. Would you
give me the space that I could cover with three strides?" King Bali
laughed. Surely a dwarf could not cover much ground, thought the King, who
agreed to dwarf's request. At this point, the dwarf changed into Vishnu and
his three strides covered the Earth, the Skies and the whole Universe! King
Bali was send to the underworld. As part of Diwali celebrations, some Hindus
remember King Bali.
The Defeat of Narkasur by Lord Krishna:
Lord Vishnu in his
8th incarnation as Krishna destroyed the demon Narkasura, who was causing
great unhappiness amongst the people of the world. Narkasura was believed to
be a demon of filth, covered in dirt. He used to kidnap beautiful young
women and force them to live with him. Eventually, their cries for rescue
were heard by Vishnu, who came in the form of Krishna. First, Krishna had to
fight with a five-headed monster who guarded the demon's home. Narkasura
hoped that his death might bring joy to others. Krishna granted his request
and the women were freed. For Hindus, this story is a reminder that good can
still come out of evil.
Krishna and The Mountain:
In the village of Gokula, many
years ago, the people prayed to the God Indra. They believed that Indra sent
the rains, which made their crops, grow. But Krishna came along and
persuaded the people to worship the mountain Govardhan, because the mountain
and the land around it were fertile. This did not please Indra. He sent
thunder and torrential rain down on the village. The people cried to Krishna
to help. Krishna saved the villagers by lifting the top of the mountain with
his finger. The offering of food to God on this day of Diwali is a reminder
to Hindus of the importance of food and it is a time for being thankful to
God for the bounty of nature.
The Significance of Lights & Firecrackers
All the simple rituals of Diwali have a significance and a story to tell. The
illumination of homes with lights and the skies with firecrackers is an expression
of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace
and prosperity. According to one belief, the sound of fire-crackers are an indication
of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful
state. Still another possible reason has a more scientific basis: the fumes produced
by the crackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitoes, found in plenty after the
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