Journalist inside::Diwali Special::Significance Of Festival of Lights
‘The festival of lights’ is celebrated with much enthusiasm and zeal in all of north
The word "Diwali" is the corruption of the Sanskrit word "Deepavali" - Deepa meaning light and Avali, meaning a row. It means a row of lights and indeed illumination forms its main attraction. Every home, the hut of the poor or the mansion of the rich is lit with the orange glow of twinkling diyas-small earthen lamps to welcome Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Multi-colored Rangoli designs, floral decorations and fireworks lend grandeur to this festival which heralds joy, mirth and happiness in the ensuring year.
Every house glitters like a jewel in the dark night sky during Diwali. People go out of their way to ornament their houses, streets, market places, schools and even slums with glittering decorations. It all starts a few weeks before Diwali when the frantic spring-cleaning gets underway. Every member of the household is expected to play a role in this ritual cleaning affair. Floors are scrubbed, thee walls whitewashed and the kitchen immaculately dusted. Every man, rich or poor, young or old, follows this custom. Since Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year, it is considered auspicious to make a good start by cleaning all the rubbish of the last year. It symbolizes not only the cleaning of the house but spiritual cleaning as well. It is also said that Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity does not visit houses that haven’t been spotlessly cleaned. Once the cleaning and whitewashing has been done, it is time for the beautiful decorations to be bought out.
Diyas are small oil lamps made out of clay. Diwali is Sanskrit for row of lamps, therefore it is but obvious that Diyas are an integral part of Diwali celebrations. They come in different shapes and sizes and patterns ranging from the intricate Rajasthani varieties to the poor man’s Diya made out of simple clay. Rows of Diyas line the entrance to the house and the areas surrounding it. This is done to guide the Goddess Lakshmi when she makes a visit to everyone’s humble abode to bless them with success.
Rangolis are one of the oldest and most beautiful Indian art forms. They are patterns, usually depicting Nature, drawn on a floor or wall with powdered color mad e out of natural vegetable dyes. These Rangolis are drawn at the entrance of the house, again to welcome Goddess Lakshmi.
Idols Of Gods and Goddesses
On this auspicious day, the idols of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped. They are first thoroughly cleaned, then ornamented in jewels, many a times the jewels are real gold and pearls and at other times they are garish cosmetic jewelry. These idols then occupy the pride of the place in the family mandir (temple).
Diwali Lights and Lamps
Many people decorate their houses with rows and rows of electric lights in different colors. These lights cascade from balconies, are coiled around a tree or strung along electrical wires in the market place. They create a mesmerizing atmosphere with their shimmering glow.
Origin Of Diwali Rangolis
According to the Chitralakshana, the earliest Indian treatise on painting, when the son of a King’s high priest died, the king was most distressed. Brahma, lord of the universe decided to help the king and asked him to paint a likeness of the boy on the wall so that Brahma could breathe life into him again. That was believed to be the first Rangoli. Another legend has it that God, in one of his creative moods, extracted the juice of a mango and painted with it the figure of a woman so beautiful that the painting put all the maidens in heaven at shame!
The Indian Kings and royal families to gave impetus to this art form which it was believed that only the very skilled could attempt. The Chola rulers are notable in their propagation of the art of Rangolis. Like Hindu and Buddhist Mandalas, the reason for using powder or sand as a medium for creating Rangoli (and its resulting fragility) is sometimes thought to be a metaphor for the impermanence of life and Maya.
Diwali Fireworks Do and Don’ts
- An adult should always supervise the use of fireworks by children.
- Check the area before igniting fireworks to ensure that all inflammable and combustible materials are removed.
- Follow all safety precautions issued with the fireworks.
- Ensure that your children don't engage in dangerous pranks such as throwing lighted crackers or sparklers at others, or try to make fireworks themselves.
- Never use fireworks inside a vehicle
- Never ignite fireworks while holding them. Put them down, then ignite them and walk away.
- Wear close-fitting clothes of thick material instead of loose or flowing garments.
- Flying fireworks - rockets, missiles, etc. - should always be lighted in open grounds pointing straight up.
- Firecrackers, bombs and flowerpots should not be lighted holding them. It is always safer to light them from the side without bending over them.
- Keep a fire extinguisher or bucket of water nearby to extinguish any incipient fire.
- Keep burn ointments handy
- Use a candle or an agarbathi to ignite fireworks. They burn without an open flame and provide a greater and safer distance between your hands and the fireworks.
Here’s a Diwali Calendar which will keep you well informed over the next couple of years. However, the dates are subject to change depending on the lunar activity.
DATE, MONTH AND DAY
21 October, Saturday
09 November, Friday
28 October, Tuesday
17 October, Saturday
05 November, Friday
26 October, Wednesday
13 November, Tuesday
03 November, Sunday
23 October, Thursday
11 November, Wednesday
30 October, Sunday
19 October, Thursday
07 November, Wednesday
27 October, Sunday