City all set for the festival of lights
EVERY HOME – be it the hut of the poor or the mansion of the rich – will be aglow with twinkling ‘diyas’ to welcome Laxmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity, on Saturday.
Multi-coloured Rangoli designs, floral decorations and fireworks will lend grandeur to Diwali, which symbolises victory over ignorance and heralds joy and happiness in the ensuing year.
And after the dusk, innumerable earthen lamps will pierce the darkness of Kartik Amavsya (no moon day), symbolising the arrival of golden-footed Deep-Laxmi on earth in all her celestial glory amidst chanting of Vedic hymns.
This day, the sun enters its second course and passes through Libra, which is represented by the balance or scale. Hence, this design of Libra is believed to have suggested the balancing of account books and their closing.
Apart from celebrating Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya, Diwali has other connotations. For Sikhs, Diwali is a celebration of Sri Guru Hargobind’s release from Gwalior jail.
Lord Krishna, who preached Karmayog to Arjun on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, discarded his body this day. Lord Mahavir attained Nirvana on Diwali.
According to Kathopanishad, Yam, the Lord of Death, explained to Nachiketa that only by passing through the darkness of death, man sees the light of highest wisdom, when soul escapes mortal frame to mingle with the Supreme Power. Swami Ramteerth was born, took sanyas and Samadhi on this day. Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Saraswati attained salvation on Diwali.
Signifying renewal of life, the festival of light heralds winter and beginning of new (Rabi) sowing season. The five-day festival begins with Dhanteras. Lord Dhanvantari, who bestows good health, is worshipped this day. Houses and premises are decorated and to indicate her long arrival, small footprints of the goddess are drawn with rice flour and vermilion at the entrance.
It is from this day that the lamps are lit till Bhai Duj and are kept burning all night. The second day of the festival is Roopchaudas, when women and men dressed in finery perform puja with naivedya of gujhiya and other sweets.
The fourth day is Annakoot, where deities are given a traditional bath and offered ‘chhappan bhog’. It also marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat commenced from this day.
Another feature is Govardhan-Puja, when people build cowdung, hillocks and decorate them with flowers for worship. In villages, cattle are adorned and worshipped by farmers, as they form the main source of income. Next day is Bhai Duj, a day observed as a symbol of love between sisters and brothers.
Apart from its religious, philosophical and economic implication, Diwali is a people-oriented festival when enmities are forgotten; families and friends meet, enjoy and establish a word of closeness.
As a festival of light and beauty, it encourages artistic expressions through home-decorations, making gift items, delectable sweets thereby discovering new talents of younger people. As a result, innumerable communities with varying cultures and customs mingle together to make it a happy occasion for all.