Saturday, 29 October 2016

Significance of the Pre-Deepawali rituals

Deepawali is the “festival of lights”, and is one of the biggest Hindu festivals that is celebrated not just all over India, but all over the world and by many religions too. Deepawali is derived from the Sanskrit words- “Deep” meaning light or lamp and “awali” meaning a row or series. Deepawali thus means “a series of lights.”

The festivities are spread over five days, starting with Dhanteras and ending with Bhai Dooj.

Dhanteras –
Dhanteras is dedicated to the universal Lord of health and wealth- Dhanvantari.
Rituals- People pray to Dhanvantari for good health and wealth, thanking him for all that he has blessed them with. In some parts of the country, people also buy gold or silver articles, as it is considered to be an auspicious day for buying new things.
Story behind the celebration- Dhanteras celebrates the churning of the cosmic ocean of milk (Samudra Manthan), between the Gods and the Demons. The purchasing of gold and silver is associated with the treasures that were obtained as a result of the Samudra Manthan, including the birth of Goddess Lakshmi and Dhanvantari.
Significance- The day signifies a war between the good and evil forces. Both forces reside in our hearts. The Samudra Manthan signifies the turbulence created when the good and evil thoughts clash. The birth of Goddess Lakshmi and Dhanvantari signifies the prosperity we can achieve when we let good rule over evil.

Naraka Chaturdashi  / Roop Chaturdashi-
The second day is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Deepawali. In some parts it is also celebrated as Roop Chaturdashi.
Rituals- Some people indulge in special ritualistic bath with fragrant oils followed by minor pujas. Some women also decorate their hands with hennas.  Roop Chaturdashi is a day to take care of oneself and beautify the self not just from outside but also from within in preparation of the festival.
The story behind the celebration- Lord Krishna’s wife Satyabhama killed the evil demon Narakasura on this day. Narakasura the tyrant demon had a boon that he could be killed only at the hands of his mother, Bhudevi. Satyabhama, who was an incarnation of Bhudevi or Goddess Earth, slayed the demon and restored happiness to the people of his kingdom. Lord Krishna and Satyabhama are said to have taken a ritualistic bath with fragrant oils to rid themselves of the travails of the battle.
Significance- The significance of the story is that, parents must not hesitate to punish their children if they happen to stray on the path of wrong doing. The ritualistic bath signifies the purging the self of evil and the beautification signifies not just beutifying one self from outside but also from within.

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