The Light bearing Nostalgia

Gayathri Saju, IIK Young Reporter
Monday, November 1, 2021

The diyas adorned with shimmering stickers, attractive designs and eye catchy patterns, the mouthwatering medu vadais, boondi laddus, unniappams, jalebis, pedas, silver coated kaju katlies and the colourful lanterns always has a special place in my heart. It enlightens me in a boundless cloud of happiness and ecstasy, lures me to dance gracefully at the resonances of Pinga Song from Bajirao Masthani, and attracts me strongly towards the scrumptious delicacies to come towards my fingertips.

This is none other than Diwali, another festival which any Indian would celebrate with pomp and joy lighting the diya of optimism and auspiciousness to drive away the dark thick clouds of negativity and evil. Diwali not only reminds me of Diyas, jalebis and rangoli’s, the deep roots of cultural devotion and admiration emerges from me spreading the feathers of my boundless feelings to others around me.

As per another popular tradition which fills up the history of this glorious festival , in the Dvapara Yuga period, Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, killed the demon Narakasura, who was evil king of Pragjyotishapura, near present-day Assam and released 16000 girls held captive by Narakasura. Diwali was celebrated as a significance of triumph of good over evil after Krishna's Victory over Narakasura. The day before Diwali is remembered as Naraka Chaturdasi, the day on which Narakasura was killed by Krishna.

Many associate the festival with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and wife of Vishnu. According to Pintchman, the start of the 5-day Diwali festival is stated in some popular contemporary sources as the day Goddess Lakshmi was born from Samudra manthan, the churning of the cosmic ocean of milk by the Devas (gods) and the Asuras (demons) – a Vedic legend that is also found in several Puranas such as the Padma Purana, while the night of Diwali is when Lakshmi chose and wed Vishnu. Along with Lakshmi, who is representative of Vaishnavism, Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Parvati and Shiva of Shaivism tradition, is remembered as one who symbolises ethical beginnings and the remover of obstacles.

Diwali is celebrated in 5 days. The first day is known as DHANTERAS derived from Dhan meaning wealth and teras meaning thirteenth, marks the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Kartik and the beginning of Diwali. On this day, many Hindus clean their homes and business premises and install diyas, small earthen oil-filled lamps that they light up for the next five days, near Lakshmi and Ganesha iconography.

The second day known as Naraka Chaturdashi, it is a day to pray for the peace to the manes, or defiled souls of one's ancestors and light their way for their journeys in the cyclic afterlife. A mythological interpretation of this festive day is the destruction of the asura (demon) Narakasura by Krishna, a victory that frees 16,000 imprisoned princesses kidnapped by Narakasura.

The third Day , Lakshmi Pujan, Kali Puja is the height of the festival and coincides with the last day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month. This is the day when Hindu, Jain and Sikh temples and homes are aglow with lights, thereby making it the "festival of lights". The word Deepawali comes from the word the Sanskrit word deep, which means an Indian lantern/lamp.

Annakut, Balipratipada (Padwa), Govardhan Puja the day after Diwali is the first day of the bright fortnight of the luni-solar calendar. It is regionally called Annakut (heap of grain), Padwa, Goverdhan puja, Bali Pratipada, Bali Padyami, Kartik Shukla Pratipada and other names.

According to one tradition, the day is associated with the story of Bali's defeat at the hands of Vishnu.

The last day of the festival is called Bhai Duj (literally "brother's day’’), Bhau Beej, Bhai Tilak or Bhai Phonta. It celebrates the sister-brother bond, similar in spirit to Raksha Bandhan but it is the brother that travels to meet the sister and her family. This festive day is interpreted by some to symbolise Yama's sister Yamuna welcoming Yama with a tilaka, while others interpret it as the arrival of Krishna at his sister's, Subhadra, place after defeating Narakasura. Subhadra welcomes him with a tilaka on his forehead.

During the season of Diwali, numerous rural townships and villages host melas, or fairs, where local producers and artisans trade produce and goods. A variety of entertainments are usually available for inhabitants of the local community to enjoy. The women adorn themselves in colourful attire and decorate their hands with henna. Such events are also mentioned in Sikh historical records. In the modern day, Diwali mela are held at college, or university, campuses or as community events by members of the Indian diaspora. At such events a variety of music, dance and arts performances, food, crafts, and cultural celebrations are featured.

Diwali is the beginning that leads us to the path of auspiciousness and positivity, eradicating the dark thick fogs of ignorance , violence and pessimism, thereby symbolizing the dharma over adharma. Lighting the diya will not only restore our boundless culture, it will also purify our souls and hightlights our aura to others, thus influencing them in the right direction

Wishing everyone a safe, enlightening Diwali!

Gayathri Saju
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