Diwali also known as the Festival of Lights
Meaning of Diwali
Diwali, also called Deepavali and Divali, literally means a "Row of Lights." For Hindus, it is one of the most festive, popular and beautiful time of the year. It is a time filled with light and love; a time when Indians all over the world rejoice.
Most importantly, Diwali is a religious and spiritual occasion when we gather with our family and friends to perform Pooja and offer prayers to Maha Lakshmi. Maha Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity – both material and spiritual wealth
and prosperity. We worship Her with love, humility and devotion and offer thanks for the blessings that She has bestowed upon us and our family, and ask Her to continue to bless us. Diwali is a holiday of joy, peace and bliss.
In general, Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil, of righteousness over treachery, of truth over falsehood, and of light over darkness.
There are many interpretations of the meaning of Diwali, its symbols, rituals, and the reasons for celebration. The most common of them is extracted from the Ramayana, where we learn of Lord Rama's glorious and long-awaited return to his Kingdom of
Ayodhya after having been exiled for fourteen years in the forests. All the residents of Ayodhya, being his Devotees celebrated his return with much joy and happiness by lighting diyas to welcome him back to his kingdom.
Another lesser known interpretation of Diwali also commemorates Lord Krishna's victory over the demon Narakaasura who had kidnapped and terrorized the gopis of Vrindavan. When the evil Naraka was finally killed by Lord Krishna and Satyabhaama,
he begged pitifully for mercy. The day of his death was celebrated with great joy and festivity. It is also celebrated as the day Lord Vishnu married Maha Lakshmi.
In this fast paced world that we live in many the true meaning of Diwali has been diluted into very much a commercial status with if lessons being distorted. So let’s explore; what is the true meaning of Diwali and what can we learn from Diwali?
Why do we celebrate it? Why do we worship Goddess Lakshmi on this day? There are three main aspects of Diwali:
• The first is the celebration of light which symbolizes the personal relationship between us and God.
• Making a fresh start and a new beginning in our life and
• Worship of Maha Lakshimi.
Diwali is much more than the sharing of delicious treats, new clothes and the bursting of fireworks which seems to be the be all and end all of Diwali. Diwali is a festival of the light which dispels the darkness of our ignorance.
The purpose is not to glorify the light of the candle, or the light of the firecracker. The purpose is to glorify the light of God. It is He who bestows the real light, the everlasting light upon the darkness of this mundane world.
The light from the Diya or that is produced for the firecracker is temporary and will go off before the night is over. But, light that burns in our minds and our hearts filled with devotion is divine and eternal. Herein lies the true celebration.
The light of Diwali should be within us. It should symbolize the personal relationship between God and our families. It is only the light that penetrates inward that has a lasting benefit.
Diwali also marks the start of a new year and a new beginning and a time for personal reassessment of their life; their personal and family accomplishments, their contributions to society and the poor, their strengths and weaknesses and making
plans for a new beginning and fresh start. It is common practice to “spring clean” your homes and tiding up your immediate environment a few days or even weeks before Diwali. This is merely cleansing this material world.
What about the inner cleansing, the cleansing of our hearts, the disposing of all the “dirt that exists within us viz. Karm, Krodh, Lobh etc. That is the real cleaning that is required.
Perhaps the most important, aspect of Diwali is the worship of Maha Lakshmi by making offering, of Dhoop, Deep, Naivedyam, Jal etc. to Mata. Maha Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, bestowing them abundantly upon her devotees.
On Diwali day, we pray to her for prosperity and we ask her for her blessings. This Prosperity that we speak of should not be confused with material prosperity as there is no correlation between material possession and inner bliss.
We pray to Mata to bring spiritual light into our lives that will lead us to eternal Bliss.
On this auspicious day we pray that our hearts be filled with the light of God. Let us clean out our minds and hearts, making a true "fresh start." Let us pray to Maha Lakshmi to bestow the divine gifts of faith, purity and devotion upon us.
Have a Joyous and Safe Diwali
Jai Shree Raam