We’ve been watching this interest develop in the nutty siblings. That need to delve into the legends, to understand tradition – all in their own way – with a multitude of “why’s, how’s why not’s, where’s ….”. What better way to explain to them the significance of the festivals that are celebrated, the substance and meaning of traditions that are followed than by introducing them to the vast world of Indian mythology.
As of now, they are rather enamored with and captivated by the legends that have given birth to all these festivities that we see around us in the modern world and all the festivals that are celebrated time and again. And since this blog is meant to be a mirror into the past, I’ve decided to pen down the essence of the mythological stories wherever possible, enabling the nutty siblings to garner a glimpse into the glorious treasure trove of Indian mythology.
The word Diwali arises from the Sanskrit word “Deepavali”. ‘Deep’ meaning ‘lights’ and ‘Avali’ meaning ‘a row’.
Dhanteras (26 Oct 2008)
Dhanteras or DhanTrayodashi essentially marks the beginning of the festival of Diwali. As is the case with every festival, there is a story explaining its significance. Legend has two mythological versions attributed to DhanTrayodashi.
The son of King Hima, it is believed, was doomed to die of a snakebite on the fourth day of his marriage, as per astrological predictions based on his horoscope. On the fourth day of his marriage, it is said that his wife laid out all the ornaments and gold and silver coins in a large heap near the door and lit numerous lamps all around the palace. She is then said to have gone around the whole palace narrating stories and singing songs. When Yama, the God of Death arrived there in the form of a serpent, he was totally blinded by the dazzle of the jewelry and the lamps that had been lit all over the palace. Lord Yama, in the guise of a serpent, is said to have climbed atop the large mound of jewelry/coins and sat there the whole night listening to the stories and the melodious songs being sung by King Hima’s daughterin law. And in the morning, since the fourth night had passed, Lord Yama is said to have left the palace quietly. Since then, DhanTeras also came to be known as YamaDeepan and in many households, lamps are kept burning through the night in reverence to Lord Yama, the God of Death.
The other mythological version states that DhanTeras is celebrated in honour of Dhanvantri, the physician of the gods. This story has its roots in SamudraManthan, during which the ocean was churned by the Devas and Asuras for Amrut or nectar. Finally Dhanvantri is said to have emerged carrying the ambrosia (nectar), which he then proceeded to distribute among the gods, which lead to the defeat of the asuras.
Naraka Chaturdashi / Deepavali (27 Oct 2008)
Naraka was the son of Bhudevi. According to the Puranas, Naraka had acquired immense powers due to a severe penance which resulted in a boon being granted to him by Lord Brahma. Narakasur then proceeded to make life miserable for the people in the villages and went on a killing spree.
Narakasur who is said to have defeated Lord Indra in battle. He then stole the earrings of Aditi (the Mother Goddess) and then proceeded to imprison the daughters of the gods and saints in his harem.
Unable to bear his tyranny, people prayed to Lord Krishna to save them. But Narakasura had a boon which stated that he could meet his end only at the hands of his own mother, Bhudevi. This is said to be the reason why Lord Krishna asked his wife Satyabhama (who was a reincarnation of Bhudevi) to be his charioteer during his battle with Narakasura.
Legend has it that during the battle that ensued, Narakasura met his end at the hands of Satyabhama. Bhudevi also declared that Narakasura’s death should not be a day of mourning, rather a day of celebration and rejoicement. Diwali is celebrated on Naraka Chaturdashi Day.
It is said that Lord Krishna returned home early in the morning on Chaturdashi and is said to have had a oil bath to wash off the blood splattered on him after the battle with Narakasura. This is said to be the significance behind the custom of taking a oil bath early in the morning on Diwali day.
In states towards the North of India, Diwali is dedicated to the worship of Lord Rama, who had been exiled from the kingdom of Ayodhya for 14 years. Diwali marks the victorious return of Lord Rama to the kingdom of Ayodhya.
In the state of Bengal, the Goddess Kali/Durga – The Goddess of Strength – is worshipped. This reverence to Goddess Kali is also known as Kali Chaudas or Kali Chaturdashi.
Lakshmi Puja (28 Oct 2008)
Lakshmi Puja is celebrated on the third day of Diwali. It falls on the Amavasya day (new moon day). It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi walks amongst people and showers her blessings for an abundance of health and prosperity. Lakshmi Puja is generally performed in the evening.
Lakshmi Puja is also known as Chopada Puja (worshipping the books). The account books for the current year of business are tallied and balanced and new account books are worshipped for the coming year.
The nutty siblings also feasted on a galore of homemade mithais this year :). The mithai menu for this year’s Diwali comprised of Edible Diyas, Malai Laddoos and Kesar/Kaju Pedas.
Feast your eyes …..
And here's Diwali of 2008 in pictures .......
Once again, best wishes to everyone for the year to come. May the coming year be filled with Peace, Good Health, Love and Happiness.