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Friday, October 28, 2005

Diwali - The Festival of Light

Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated with enthusiasm and gaiety. The festival is celebrated by all people viz young and old, rich and poor, across the nation to dispel darkness and light up their lives. This festival is celebrated differently in every states in their own way. symbolizes unity in diversity. However Diwali is not widely celebrated in Kerala unlike the neighbours Tamilnadu and Karnataka but widely celebrated in North India.

Aswayuja Bahula Chaturdasi kick starts the four day festival and concludes on Kartika Shudda Vijiya. The first day of this festival marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

People believe as said it in 'Puranas' that Naraka, son of Bhudevi, acquired enormous power from Lord Brahma after a severe penance. He then unleashed a reign of terror in the kingdom of Kamarupa, harassing celestial beings with his unconquerable might. The celestial beings pleaded with Lord Krishna to save them from his torture once they were unable to bear the tyranny of the demon. But Naraka could not be easily killed as he had a boon that he would face death only at the hands of his mother Bhudevi. So, Krishna asks his wife Satyabhama, the reincarnation of Bhudevi, to be his charioteer in the battle with Naraka. Then Krishna started fight with Naraka. When Krishna feigns unconsciousness after being hit by an arrow of Naraka, Satyabhama takes the bow and aims the arrow at Naraka, killing him instantly. Later Lord Krishna reminds her of the boon she had sought as Bhudevi.

The slaying of Naraka by Sathyabhama could also be taken to interpret that parents should not hesitate to punish their children when they stray on to the wrong path.

The second day is Amavasya when Lakshmi puja is performed. It is believed that on this day Goddess Lakshmi would be in her benevolent mood and fulfill the wishes of her devotees. One version says that it was on this day that Goddess Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagara (Ocean of Milk) when the Gods and demons were churning the sagara (ocean) for nectar (Amrit)

Third day - Actual Diwali day, is celebrated on the third day of the festival, when the moon completely wanes and total darkness sets in the night sky. It is in this darkness, that Diwali finds its true expression. On this day people worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and express their gratitude for previous favors.

The fourth day is referred to as "Yama Dvitiya." On this day, sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

However, in the northern part of India it is celebrated as the return of Ram along with Sita and Lakshman from his 14 years of exile after killing Ravana. To commemorate his return to Ayodhya, his subjects illuminated the kingdom and burst crackers.

Happy Diwali...Greetings...


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