Millenniums back Ayodhya was decorated like a newlywed bride. It was Kartiki Amavasya – the night was dark. The moon didn’t visit the sky. The light of earthen lamps – big and small had turned the night into day. Beautiful gates decorated with golden and silver linings were waiting to welcome the benevolent king. During his 14 years exile Ram had united the Vanavasis (tribals) from Ayodhya to Rameshwaram to wash away the evil influences of Ravan who was ravaging the nation with his accomplices. Twenty days earlier on Vijayadashami (Dussehra) the king of Lanka was killed and the people throughout the country had celebrated the victory day. The period of exile being over Ram would be back in his ‘Vijay Ratham’. Not simply Ayodhya, the whole country rejoiced and welcomed him back to his kingdom. They celebrated the day with all the fanfare.
Lamps were lit. Dances were arranged. There was display of fireworks. Crowds were uncontrollable for all, in their new costly clothes, wanted to have ‘darshana’ of their hero. Sweets were prepared in every house to be offered to the king and his companions. The victory was so great and the rejoicings were on such a large scale that the day became a golden leaf in the history of the nation. Thousands of years have passed us still light the lamps, decorate the houses and streets, prepare sweets and exchange them with friends and relatives.
The period of prosperity began. Lakshmi, ‘the goddess of wealth’, is the central figure. In the series Dharma Artha Kama and Moksha Hindus give importance to Artha i.e. wealth after Dharma. And to follow the ten principles of Dharma one must have wisdom. Ganesh the lord of wisdom is to be worshipped first so that Laxmi has to be gained through pious ways not through ‘adharma’ i.e. corrupt ways. The festive occasion maintains the same principle even after thousands of years.
The festivities begin a week before Diwali. Houses are cleaned and decorated – Rows of light decorate the houses. Gates become lively. Sweets are prepared from Hoi Ashthami. The thirteenth day is for the great Vaidya Dhanvantari. Health too is to be looked after. It is the day for the display of one’s material achievements. Utensils and other necessities are to be purchased – shops are full of delightful assortments – the choice is yours. The next day Lord Krishna killed Narakasur the evil King of Assam and freed 16000 maids who were in his captivity. Where to keep the evil king in the lavatory and light an earthen lamp there too. Let him too have a glimpse of the eternal light.
The third day is Diwali, the day of revelries. You have to move through crowds to make purchases. The whole city – all cities of the country -changes into a mela – a festival. What a beautiful pair of Laxmi and Ganesh – scores of them are on the make shift stores – the choice is yours – the choice of colour of design and shade. Of course you can have idols of gold and silver too if your pocket allows. Make hurry for the time for worship is approaching. A corner in the drawing room is decorated with ‘Swastiks’ and rangoli. The deities are placed on a throne. Worship those singing songs and ‘shlokas’. They will bring both wisdom and prosperity. Businessmen would worship the account books too and replace the old ones with new books.
The harvest season in the North has just been over. Parched rice (Kheel) is rather a part of the offerings. It is also to be exchanged with friends and relatives the next day. After the Laxmi Pooja at the residence and the shop the turn comes to the children who would enjoy the display of fireworks the most. Bombs are there for the youth while the younger ones have the smaller – less risky things like pistols. The bombs tear off the silence throughout the night. The whole city turns into day with the earthen lamps, candles and electric light.
The revelries won’t stop here. Next day is for the cattle. They are decorated – bells ring in their necks. It is the day of gow-vardhan i.e. increasing the number of cattle specially cows. Even the dung of cow is worshipped on the day. The temples have a gay look for there is the Prasadam of Annakuta of 64 ‘vyanjans’ (64 types of preparations – all types of sweets). It is celebrated with great faith in the ‘Brij’ area of Uttar Pradesh. The story runs ‘Indra’, the god of rains was angry with the people. The incessant rains caused a deluge. Lord Krishna took Goverdhan Parvat on his figure and gave shelter to the people and the cattle under it. So cattle are closely associated with Goverdhan Parvat. They must be worshipped for the help they give to the farmer.
Got tired! The next day has dawned. Leave the bed. Have bath. Your sister would be coming to put Kumkum on your forehead on the Bhaiduj-Bhaibij in Gujarat. And if you are in Mathura, or can afford to be there have a dip in the water of pious river Yamuna to get salvation. Yamuna is the daughter of Yamaraj. She would recommend your case to her father. Offer a gift package of sweets and clothes to your sister on this auspicious day.
Just a coincidence – Mahavir Swarm and Swami Dayanand left the ghost on this very day. Naturally Jains and the followers of Arya Samaj celebrate Diwali as their Nirvan Divas – the day of salvations too. All said
-you too can have social salvation by celebrating the occasion as a united force to do away with the evil forces and make efforts to bring Ram Rajya. Well you have to celebrate its arrival as our forefathers did thousands of years back. Bring it at least for the solace of human beings. Rejoice every year for your achievements and those of the nation.