Diwali is one of the most important festivals celebrated every year in the Hindu culture. Popular not only in India but in many countries, this festival of lights has its own significance and importance. Ancient Hindu tradition commemorates Deepavali, celebrated as the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and brother Lakshman to Ayodhya, from a fourteen-year long exile. Overjoyed, his subjects lit the entire kingdom with earthen Diyas and burst crackers. Commonly an oil lamp is burned which is said to conquer the darkness and bring light. The physical lamp is a symbol and it represents you. You have to light up with joy, vibrantly, and full of prana or life force.
The festival is typically divided into 4 days.
The first day known as Naraka Chaturdashi commemorates the subjugation of Naraka, the demon, by Lord Krishna.
The second day of Diwali is Amavasya, marking the worship of Goddess Lakshmi.
The third day of Diwali is Karika Shudda Padyami when Bali steps out of hell and rules the earth.
The fourth day is Yama Dvitiya, popularly known as Bhai Dooj. It is on this day that sisters invite brothers to their homes.
There are a lot of stories that roam around the importance of these four days. But the main essence of the celebration has its own unique importance. Every act that is done during this festival has some other significance.
For example, on the first day of Diwali, Mantra Snanam, sound bathing, is recommended. Vibrations of the ancient chants or prayers are done by Pandits. These chants are said to be one of the first prayers of mankind from the Rig Veda, the Sri Suktam. It is evidently the earliest Sanskrit devotional hymn, revering Sri as Lakshmi the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity, and fertility Then the Kalasha puja is performed. During this pooja, chanting of mantras is done to evoke divine presence in a pot of water that is believed to be sacred and prayers are offered to bless humankind so that people are bestowed with a good mind, good heart, a good intellect, and wisdom.
Why is a Puja performed?
Puja, prayer, is something that is an utter sense of devotion that comes from within the heart, the art of devoting yourself to honor and praise the Divine. We pray to renew our connection with divinity. To form a close connection with God. The Divine worships you in so many forms and puja is a way to offer everything back to the Divine.
The rituals of homa or havan performed during puja are known to bring Yasha (success); prajna(consciousness); vidya(education); buddhi(knowledge); Balam, (strength); veeryam(valour); Ayush(long life); aishwaryam(wealth) and more.
On the day of Laxmi Poojan, we invoke Goddess Lakshmi, a symbol of thanksgiving for the protection and blessings we have received. Similarly, there is Mahakali symbolizing power; Mahalakshmi symbolizing material wealth, and Mahasaraswati symbolizing wisdom.
It is believed that there are three types of energy in each person: Iccha-shakti (willingness) ; Kriya-shakti (energy) to function and Jnana-shakti (wisdom). These are the different aspects of life that are governed by the subtle energy and puja is a way of connecting to the subtle world.
On this Diwali, let’s pledge to light diyas, while understanding its true meaning. Also, it is not enough to light just one lamp. We need many lamps to overpower darkness and spread light and happiness around. Real happiness, the real celebration can happen only with knowledge, not just with comforts, gadgets, gifts, money or friends.