Friday, November 19, 2010
DIWALI AND EVERYTHING ABOUT IT
Diwali is a 5 days festival, each of which is not celebrated by everyone. It starts on the 13th Lunar Day of the waning Moon (Krishna Paksha) in the month of Karthik (Sanskrit/Hindi) or Ippasi (Tamil), depending on which calendar one refers to (more on this discrepancy later).
a. Day 1 – Dhanteras or Dhantrayodashi meaning ‘Wealth – 13th day’ finds its roots in Lord Dhanvantri – the God of Wealth or Physician of the Gods – an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. During the Samudra Manthan (Ocean Churning), Lord Dhanvantri emerges (in the end) carrying a pot of nectar, which was a very important resultant of the process.
This occasion is celebrated, mostly in places near Mathura and Vrindavan, through Milk-Bath of the deity and offerings of Garments and Jewels to the idol.
Additional Note - This day also marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat was started from this day.
e. Day 5 – Bhai / Bhayya Dooj, the last festival under the umbrella of Diwali, is a festival quite similar to Rakshabandhan, in the sense that it reinforces the bond between a sister and a brother. However, the key differences are:
1. In Rakshabandhan, Brothers pledge safety and well being of their sisters. In Bhai Dooj, Sisters pray for the well being of their brothers.
2. In Rakhi, usually brothers gift their sisters. In Bhai-Dooj, the gifts are exchanged.
Now for the WHY!
Once again, we’re offered 2 possible reasons behind this festival.
Yamaraj once visited his Sister, after a long time. So glad was she to meet him (and find him safe) that she welcomed him, applying a Teeka (auspicious mark) on his forehead and praying for his well being forever. Hearing this, Yamaraj was ecstatic and promised to visit her every year. Thus you have Bhai-Dooj. Meanwhile, Yama’s sister is named Yami. Perhaps she was none other than the Goddess (and river) Yamuna!
After slaying Narakasura, Lord Krishna and Satyabhama returned to Dwaraka. The Lord was welcomed by his sister, Subhadra (in a manner similar to the above) and thus this also forms another basis for the Bhai Dooj practice.
THE END OF DAYS…
Whoa! Wasn’t this supposed to be a tiny post??? Well, such is Diwali that condensing is not my cup of tea. So, the next time you wish to build your cultural portfolio (with parents, in-laws etc.), this will serve as ammunition. Until next time (hopefully the next festival), Good Day and Good Luck!