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Meaning and Reasons for Diwali Celebrations

Saturday, 17 November 2007 / Published in Articles / 9,334 views

Compiled by Mother Gandhari dasi – Ayurvedic Lifestyle and Bhakti Yoga Instructor

Diwali comes from the word Dipavali which has two words dipa means light and avali means carrier. Therefore Dipa or Diya (1) signifies ‘coming to light’. In the Vedic Literature it is mentioned: “Tamasa Ma, Jyotir Gamaya” means ‘Do not remain in Darkness, Come to Light’, meaning ‘come to spiritual awareness or awakening’.

In the Bhagavat Gita Chapter four verse seven and eight Lord Krsna says: ‘yada yada hi dharmasya glani bhavati bharata, abhyudhan dharmasya, tadatmana srijyamya ham, Pavitranaya sadhunam, vinasaya ca duscritam’. Translation is ‘Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious principles and predominant rise in irreligion, I descend Myself again and again to kill the miscreants and to re-establish the principles of Dharma’ This is illustrated in the Diwali celebrations which are in the rememberace of Lord Krsna’s various pastimes. Unless the true meanings of these celebrations are understood they will become merely commercialized These events have been celebrated for millions of years. E.g. Lord Rama and his whole entourage had appeared on earth in Treta Yuga

*(2) the stories of Ramayana are still alive because the devoted people have been singing them since time immemorial. All the places of His various pastimes are still there with their original names and are visited by devoted bhaktas from all over the world. Reciting these pastimes of the Supreme Lord Rama, Krsna, and His incarnations purifies a person’s existence and releases them from cycle of samsara.

*(3) or rebirth. The histories of the following incarnations are remembered during Diwali season. Lord Krsna, Rama, Vaman, Purshurama, Kurma, Dhanvantari and his associates like Kuvera, Yamaraj, Durvasa, Pandavas, Vikramditya, Bali, Indra and other managers of the universal affairs like Laxmi, Amba, Kali and Surabhi. All these stories are in Srimad Bhagavad and also some Puranas. Presently we are very fortunate that A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami had translated the Bhagavad Purana into English and is available in many other languages on www.krsna.com (books on line). Diwali also celebrations give opportunity for the householders (grhasthas) to perform Pancha Yajnas to counteract the sins commited daily by humans beings. 1)Performing sacrifices to the Supreme Lord in His various incarnations or His managers. 2) Reciting the scriptures. 3)Offering oblation to forefathers (Pitris). 4)Feeding human beings (which include Brahamans). 5)Feeding and taking care of other living entities including the cows. Devotees of Krsna, if they have fully surrendered to the instructions of their guru and Krsna may not need to follow the worldly duties. The wise will still follow the Varnashram principals to show examples to others and not to disrupt the social system (principals of Varnashram System as laid down by Supreme Lord Krsna Himself).

Diwali is celebrated for the following reasons and more: a) Return of Lord Ramachandra from His exile for 14 years.

*(4) Lord Rama is an incarnation of Krsna. b) The appearance of Laxmidevi from the ocean of milk.

*(5) during the Churning of the Ocean of Milk and Lord Visnu (Krsna took the form of Kurma – Tortoise and Mohini Murti (Krsna’s incarnation). c) Appearance of Lord Dhanvantari (also an Incarnation of Krsna), who gave Ayurveda. d) Lord Krsna’s release of the 16,100 princesses from clutches of the demon Narkasura. e) Return of Bali Maharaj to his kingdom for one day from the Patal loka (lower planetary system) where he was sent by Krsna’s Incarnation of Vamana Deva. f) Observance of Kartika in Vrindavan for whole month for Lord Krsna’s pastimes of Damodar Lila. g) Duryodhan was killed on this day so all the Brijabasis had also celebrated Diwali and the return of Pandavas after their exile for one year during Lord Krsna’s pastimes on Earth 5000 years ago. h) Kuvera (the treasurer of the universe) was appointed at his post one of the universal managers appointed by Lord Krsna. i) Yamaraj (also an appointed managerial post of Lord of the Death for judgments of all actions of all living entities in the universe, appointed by Lord Krsna). j) King Vikramaditya was ordained on this day therefore the Vedic Calendar starts from then. k) Surabhi cow

*(6) had appeared from churning of the Milk Ocean (Kshirsagar) so the cows are worshipped and honored. l) Lord Krsna lifting the Govardhan Hill for seven days to protect the residents from Indra’s devastating rain.

*(7) m) Appearance of Lord Parasur Rama (incarnation of Lord Krsna) during this Season. n)Pandavas also return from their one year exile from the forest on this day. Many other reasons for celebration Diwali by the Sikhs, Jains and others also in India. Once Lord Indra was cursed by his guru Durvasa Muni to lose all his opulence because he disrespected him. Durvasa Muni was visiting Brahmaji (the Creator of this universe) and had received a garland from him which he gave to Indra who was riding on his Airavata the Elephant with many trunks. Indra was feeling very proud at that time and put the garland on the elephant’s head, who dropped it on the floor and trampled it. Durvasa Muni saw all this, and became angry and cursed him to be bereft of all his opulence. Thus Laxmidevi from his kingdom into the ocean. Without Laxmi, there cannot be any happiness or joy. The material world was sunk into gloom of darkness, and the Danavas (demons) were taking over the posts of Devas. That is when Lord Visnu devised the plan to churn the ocean of Milk to get the various jewels from the ocean including the Divine Goddess Laxmi. During Diwali everything in India comes to a standstill except family life, feasting, gifting and greeting. It is the last day of the Vedic Calendar therefore there is the significance of ending the year with festivities and preparing to welcome the New Year with auspicious beginnings. The present Vedic calendar is started from the rule of the dynasty of the great king Vikramaditya (102 BC to 15 AD) that is why it is called Vikram savant which is 2063. Diwali festivities begin on the 10th day after the full moon on Dussera. Dussera literally means killing of ten headed (which was Ravana with ten heads). ‘Patasa’ (sugared candies) are profusely distributed because of Lord Ramachandraji’s killing of Ravana, the evil King of Lanka who had kidnapped Queen Sita. Preparations for Diwali are made one month ahead by thoroughly cleaning, painting and decorating homes, temples and businesses. It is considered to clear away the negativity of the past year and start the new year with fresh beginning.

*Special sweets and savories are made for the festive season. Gifts, gold and fireworks are bought. Greeting cards Diwali and New Years cards are sent to relatives and friends wishing them prosperity, joy, and happiness for the coming year. Unique sweets are only made on this occasion. Ekadasi 11th day (Vaisnavas fast from grains and worship Lord Krsna and perform spiritual austerities like doing extra parikramas around the temples, increase the number of Japa mala they do of the Lord’s holy names, visit special holy places of pilgrimages and temples, worship the deities and Tulasi plant with more opulence, give charity to brahamans, feed the cows. Any austerities, charity and sacrifices done on these days, multiplies the beneficial results thousand times. Dhanteras- 13th day or (Yamadeepan). Dhan

*(11) means wealth, so all the sources of income are honored and worshipped Goddess Laxmi, Lord Dhanvantari, Kuver (the treasurer of the Universe) and Yamaraja (the Lord of Death) are worshipped for various reasons according to the historic event that happened many yugas ago. Goddess Laxmi is bathed and worshipped on this day because she is the personification of wealth and she had appeared on this day from the churning of the ocean. Kuvera was ordained on his post on this day and since he is the treasurer of the universe, he is honored to get his grace to increase wealth and prosperity for the coming year. Something metal is bought for the household on this day especially new pots for the kitchen and gold ornaments for the wives. Lord Dhanvantari is honored for continuous health and longevity because he had appeared on this day from the ocean of Milk and had brought the knowledge of Ayurveda (science of longevity or science of life). In the villages, cattle are decorated because they represent Surabhi Cow

*(5) which had also appeared from the churning of the Ocean of Milk, and she is also the personification of wealth for the farmers and she gives the nectar of life (milk). In fact, Gau-mata (Holy Cow), is honored by devout Vaisnavas everyday to get spiritual blessings because Lord Krsna protected the cows and gave them in charity to brahmans dialy, while He was performing his pastimes on earth 5000 years ago. Seero (halavah) is offered to the deities. Small footprints of rice flour and kurn are drawn all over the house marking arrival of Laxmi Devi. Lord Yamaraj is given respects on this day so there will not be an untimely (death) to their family. Strings of diyas are kept on all night in the remembrance of the following story. Dhanteras History Once King Hima was doomed to die by a snake-bite on the fourth day of his marriage. That night his wife did not let him sleep. She placed all her ornaments and lots of gold and silver coins in a big heap at the entrance and lit innumerable lamps all over the place. She sang songs and told stories to keep him awake. When Yama arrived in the guise of a serpent, his eyes were blinded by the dazzle of those brilliant lights and he could not enter the King’s chamber. So he climbed on top of the heap of gold ornaments and coins and sat there the whole night listening to the melodious songs. In the morning he quickly went away. Thus the young wife saved her husband’s life from the clutches of death. Since then Dhanteras is known as Yamadeepan – Lights that kept Yamaraja (death personified) away. This is also the start of rangolis season. Rangolis (sacred designs)

* (9) enhance the beauty of the courtyards and entrances for next two weeks. Rangolis are still drawn everyday in many homes in South India. They have many important material and spiritual benefits listed below. Toran

*(10) (festoons and garlands of mango leaves or beads with sacred symbols

*(8) decorate the doors to ward off negativity and bring auspiciousness. Displays of fireworks, festive foods and devotional music bring in the loving atmosphere. Kali Chaudas 14th day. (or Narak Caturthi). Celebrated on 14th day after the full moon. In Gujarat, black vada (puri like preparations made from Urad – black mung flour) are thrown in four directions with water, signifying (all negativity is put into those vada so they will carry away all negativity) clearing of all misunderstanding and negativity from the household. The auspicious lights, rangolis and chanting the glories of Lord Rama keep away the negative spirits. Special groups of people come to sing the glories of Lord Rama and His pastimes for donations (similar to Carol Singers) this may be going on only in the remote Northern India. This is also called Narak Caturthi in South India because Bali Maharaj returns to his kingdom for one day to light the first light of Diwali.

Diwali – Dipavali (Dark moon night – 30th or Amavash) Since Diwali falls during the dark moon fortnight, the whole city of Ayodhya was lit up with diyas to guide the Pushpak Viman

*(8) (flowered airplane of Lord Rama) to the place where His brother Bharat was eagerly waiting for Lord Rama to return or he was going to give up his life. This day was celebrated in the mood of receiving and welcoming Lord Ramachandra with His Divine Consort Mother Sitadevi and brother Laxman accompanied by Sri Hanumanji for their return to Ayodhya after His 14 years of Exile in the forest. Therefore the tradition is still carried on of decorating the cities, shops, streets and homes with beautiful lights, flowers, rangolis, scented water, waterpots, festoons, fireworks, music and sweets and gifts for one month.

Diwali is the last day of financial year so Vedic businessmen perform Chopra pujan (the new accounts books). Laxmiji is worshipped because of her appearance from the churning of the Milk Ocean. Her coins also receive abhishek (13). People draw holy swastika (the symbol for Laxmidevi) made of kum kum in her honor. Special sweets are made for meals on this day. Laxmijis glories are sung. Dinner parties are held in every home. Fireworks, rangolis and lamps are lighted for two weeks. Narkasura was killed by Lord Krsna’s Queen on this day. People in South India smash a bitter vegetable and smear their bodies with red kumkum signifying the blood of the demon as Lord Krsna had done. Men take their ceremonial scented baths after their smudging tumeric and sandal paste. Distribution of sweets and musical parties bring in the festive spirit. The story goes that Markasura had stolen Queen Aditi’s (the mother of devas) earring and Satyabhama (one of Lord Krsna’s eight special queens) was related to Aditi and wanted to avenge the demon, so she went with Lord Krsna on the chariot to defeat him. By providence Sri Krsna became unconscious and gave her the special strength to slay the demon. Then Lord Krsna released the 16, 100 princesses from Narakasura’s jail and married them upon their request.

*(12)New Year’s Day or Bestavarsh marks the coronation of King Vikramditya (16) and Vikram – Samvat (Era) 2063 ago was started on this day. Most people get up at Brahma Muhurta(17), do the pujas to the devas and pay respects to the elders by bowing and touching their feet to get the blessings. Gifts or money are given as good wishes. Usually the whole day is spent in visiting kinsmen for paying respects and greetings for the New Year. The day is to forgive everyone for any offenses of the past year and start the New Year with loving feelings. (Forgiving is one of the main quality of a Brahman). Exchange and display of sweets in every homes. Married daughters with their families are invited for dinner at her parent’s home thus the day is also called Guddi Padva. ‘Govardhan Puja’ or Annakut. is celebrated by Vaisnavas and all the Hindus because Lord Krsna had lifted the Gorvardhan Hill on this day. Everyone brings cooked preparations for the Deities and places them in big mount forming Govardhan Hill. Special dramas are performed enacting the pastime of Lord Krsna lifting Govardhan hill to protect the Brijabasis from Indra’s wrath. This Annakut or mound of Prasad is distributed profusely. Lapsee (cracked wheat halavah and green mung (18) are cooked on this day in homes to start the year with auspicious foodstuff. This is the day when the cows are fed and worshipped because Lord Krsna personally did that and requested everyone to honor and worship the cows and brahmans. This is the time when people donate cows to the brahamans. Older generation of people from Vedic Tradition would always donate at least one cow during their lifetime. There is a very nice story in Garuda Purana, that one should donate a cow when one is younger in age so when the person dies, then the same cow he had donated will help him cross the Viraj River which is filled with abominable items and it is very painful for a sinful person to cross on his own. There are stories even now where if one saves and protects a cow, she will come in the time of need and help the person. This benefits of cow protection is presently lost. One should check out the website www.careforcows.com and pledge a donation for cow protection. Among senior generation of people from Vedic tradition, it was a very common practice in Indian homes first to place small amount of food offering in the fire with a little ghee as and offering to Lord Visnu, then feed a guest, a cow, a dog and a beggar before eating. Even the greetings consist of inviting a person to their homes (Avajo = please come to our home) and Rama Rama (please remember Rama and Jai Sri Krsna = All glories to Lord Krsna.). Bhaibij – second day after the New Year (19) In Vedic tradition, at the time of the vedic wedding of a sister, all her brothers and cousin brothers in some cases, make a vow to take care of their sister in her family life. They take a vow by throwing grains in the fire in front of all the witnesses. We can see in the examples of Kamsa escorting her sister Devaki to her home after the wedding. Krsna, Balaram were considering where to get their sister Subhadra married. There are many other examples of brother’s duty towards their sister (making sure that she is happy in her married life). So on this day, the brothers are invited for dinner with their families to the sister’s home and bring a gift of new sari, gold jewellery or a household item. She performs a small arati for him to give him blessings of long life, health and wealth. Surya Narayan (the Sungod) his wife left him because she could not tolerate his brilliant effulgence although she had two children who were Yamaraja and Yamuna. She left her own shadow called Chayya as their mother. So this shadow step mother was mistreating the children very much so they left her. Being separated for many years, Yamaraja thought to find and visit her sister. He had brought her gifts for their reunion. Yamunaji asked for a boon and said that whoever visits their sisters on this day and brings her a gift will not see death untimely. Since then this celebration is going and is considered sisters day. Brother’s day falls on Rakshabandhan. So in Vedic tradition everyone is honored and cared for. The parents and grandparents day is everyday because one should pay respect and honor them daily. The blessings are sought from sisters, parents and elders. During whole month of Kartika (October – November) Vrandavan is lit up with diyas. Prayers, lamps and sweets are offered to Baby Krsna. Lord Krsna was tied by his mother with a rope because He stole some butter. Baby Krsna pulled down the Yamala Arjuna trees(20) with the mortar that He was tied to, therefore He got the name Damodar. The Diwali festivities continue for a couple more weeks with relatives visiting each others homes for dinners to start the beginning of renewed relationships and honoring feasts at every home as per duty of the householders. So we can see that all the festivals are celebrating the pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Participating with the remembrance of His superhuman activities grant the persons great spiritual benefits. More Detailed Explanations

*(1) Diya is a home made lamp made from red clay with wick soaked in ghee. Diya (light) signifies knowledge. There is famous Vedic mantra that says Tamaso Ma, Jyotir Gamaya means don’t stay in darkness, come to light, meaning give up the ignorance and come to mode of goodness through spiritual knowledge. Another meaning is – where there is light, there cannot be darkness of ignorance. So it is the duty of every human being to study the scriptures and become enlightened into the spiritual path and thus get out of the darkness cycle of samsara. Diya is very significant in giving this reminder on the beginning of the New Year celebrations and for the rest of the year. So this signifies the New Years resolutions of making more efforts on spiritual path. Just as the setting of the sun takes away a person’s life daily and brings him closer to death, therefore, Diya is the light to remind a human being of his on going journey of spiritual salvation.

*(2) Treta Yuga lasted 1,296,000 years. Following that Dwapara Yuga lasted 864,000 years and the present Kaliyuga is going to last for 432,000 years out of which 5000 years have already past.

*(3) Explanation of Samsara – All beings are going through the cycle of birth and death of 8,400,000 species of life and only in human form of life can a living entity can make a choice of getting out from this perpetual cycle. The method is made easy by the Supreme Lord through the process of Bhakti. Bhakti means to worship the Supreme Lord Krsna or any of His incarnations. There are nine process of bhakti. Sravan, kirtan, Smaranam, archanam, vandanam, padasevaya, sakhyam, atmanivedanam. Any one of these process of bhakti can grant a person liberation but hearing, chanting and remembering Lord Krsna’s names, forms, pastimes and activities, are specially recommended in this age of Kali because it is the most simplest method and most powerful. His divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has made this method so easily available that people from all nations are now participating and chanting the glories of the Supreme Lord Krsna by chanting the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra -HARE KRSNA HARE KRSNA, KRSNA KRSNA, HARE HARE, HARE RAMA HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA HARE HARE. People from Alaska to Tasmania and from Russia in the far north to the tip so South America, Australia and Africa are now Chanting the holy names of the Supreme Lord and are experiencing the bliss of personal association of the Supreme Lord in his Holy Name. One has to only try and experience this simple method. Lord Caitanya, an incarnation of Lord Krsna who came only 500 years ago had predicted that His name will be sung in Every Town and Village. This prediction is coming true as we can all see. The desire of the Supreme Lord was to re-establish Vedic culture as it was 5000 years ago, so presently by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, this prediction is coming true because there are 350 Hare Krsna centers around the world and devotees from all cultures are practicing the ancient Vedic traditions by first chanting the Holy Names of Lord Krsna and reading about His pastimes and taking Lord’s Prasad.

*(4) Lord Rama was ordered by his step mother (Kaikeyi) to go to the forest for 14 years so her own son Bharat can be the King. But Bharat did not want to be King. So the Kingdom waited for 14 years for Lord Rama’s return. These plans were devised by the Supreme Lord himself so that He could go to the forest and visit the sages who were very eager to associate with the Lord directly. While in the forest, Lord Rama and his brother Laxman killed many demons including Ravan (ten headed demon). Lord Rama returns on Diwali day to Ayodhya, His Kingdom. It was dark moon night, therefore the citizens of Ayodhya had lighted the whole kingdom with diya to bring light and also to guide the puspak viman (flowered airplane which had been stolen by King Ravan from Kuvera the treasurer) and welcome Lord Rama at home. Diya was also the sign of joy and celebration signifying that the light of their life has returned in their lives.

*(5) Churning of Milk Ocean – This event is also based on very ancient pastime of Lord Visnu (Krsna). Originally the Danavas (people with demoniac mentality) wanted to rule the universe. So Lord Visnu had devised a plan where they and the devas would churn the Ocean of Milk to get the pot of nectar of immortality. They were using the Mount Meru (an upside down mountain) as the churning rod and Vasuki snake (which is very large king of snakes). The mountain was toppling so Lord Visnu took the form of Tortoise and became the pivot and also set on top of it to hold it in place by his weight. During the churning of the Milk Ocean 14 items came out and they were distributed to great personalities. They are listed below. Lakshi – goddess of fortune who was reunited with Lord Visnu Lord Dhanvantari brought Ayurveda – (science of healthy living). Surabhi cow (wish fulfilling cow). Ucchaishrava, – Flying Horse. Airavata with many trunks and eight pairs of elephants that can go in any direction was given to Indra who is the King of the heavenly planet and in charge of the rain. Kastubha Mani – Jewel given to Lord Visnu who placed it on his chest. Parijata tree was given to heavenly King, which Lord Krsna had once brought back for Queen Satyabhava from while they were residing in Dwarka (on the Coast of West India. This place is considered as one of the four Holy Dhams or places of Pilgrimage in India). Apasara – heavenly dancers Moon – the crescent moon – was placed on Lord Shiva’s head. Panchajanya – a conch-shell was given to Lord Visnu Haridhanu the bow of Hari – was given to Lord Hari. Varuni – the goddess of liquor resides in heavenly planets. Initially there was the poison that came out from the ocean which Lord Shiva drank it and held it in his throat, which became blue that is why he is called Nilakantha.

*(6) Surabhi cow was given to the devatas on the heavenly planets. She is very special because she can fulfill the desires of her owner. She can Give unlimited wealth and fortune. Most people worship the cow in the mood of remembering Surabhi cow, to get all the good luck.

*(7) Govardhan Puja – Time to celebrate special pastime of Lord Krsna when He had held Govardhan Hill on his little finger for seven days to protect the local citizens from torrents of rain from Indra (the rain god) who was angered because Lord Krsna was showing the Brajabasis, (residents of Vrindavan) that He is the supreme Lord and they should make all offerings to Him and stopped the offering to Indra. Thus Indra poured rain for seven days and nights. After seeing Lord Krsna’s power, Indra was humbled and accepted Lord Krsna as his Lord. This is when the ornamentally decorated cows are also worshipped and given in charity to Brahmans (by those who can afford them). The cows are fed and worshipped because Lord Krsna personally did that and asked the residents to do that also because their milk nourishes the human beings. There are 33,000,000 million devatas residing in the body of a cow. Since everyone brings some food there are lots of offerings and thus it is called Anaakoot (Anna means food and Kuta means hill). Lord Krsna had turned Himself into Govardhan Hill and accepted all the offerings. Presently Devotees from all over the world do parikrama of Govardhan Hill and offer some milk at the tongue of the Hill.

*(8) Vimans – flowered airplanes were common during Lord Ramachandra’s time. They were propelled by mantras. Most of the warriors in Lord Rama’s Army and even in Lord Krsna’s army was fully competent in using mantras for creating various weapons. These mantras will not be effective if the person using them does not follow the discipline required.

*(9) Rangolis have very special meaning. They are similar to yantras which are sacred geometry for interaction and inviting Devatas to our homes. They bring great auspiciousness, joy, health, wealth and happiness. These rangolis engage the young girls and ladies in beautiful artwork which is pleasing to the mind and soul. This is one of the sixty four arts practiced by Srimati Radharani. Rangolis also have some unique healing powers. The geometrical figures exercise the brain and keep it alert. Presently in the western countries, the Gujaratis hold Rangoli competitions in every town and Vedic temples. There is another purpose for rangolis. Since it is the duty of the households to do Pancha Yajnas which include feeding other living entities. Creating rangolis enables them to feed the tiny living creatures with atta flour (grain flours). Therefore doing rangolis with grains, enables the householders to share their grains with the tiny living entities, like bugs, insects, ants etc. It is harmful to use chemical colors, metals, ground glass or saw dust to make rangolis because if these tiny insects eat those chemicals, then the people get reaction for killing them. The other Panca Yajnas are reading and reciting the scriptures daily, feeding the ancestors, performing sacrifice daily to the Devas for the exchange of earth, water, fire, light, air and ether and feeding humans and all living entities. These Yajnas are to nullify the sins humans perform daily in their homes in five places while cooking on the fire, at the water place, while grinding, while sweeping and many other sins performed daily.

*(10) Toran – Stringed or Beaded decorations with sacred designs of holy swastikas of goddess Laxmi and Ganesh who removes obstacles and brings auspiciousness.

*(11) Dhanteras – On this particular day, people buy new pots for the house and jewellery for the women. In those days the pots and utensils were made of gold and silver and were assurance of increase in wealth. These items can be bartered in the times of need.

*(12) Upon the request and desire of the princesses, Lord Krsna married them all and built beautiful palaces in Dwarka for each princess and they all had 10 boys each. Lord Krsna was present with each and everyone at the same time. That shows that He is the Supreme Lord who is omnipresent and omniscient.

*(13) Abhishek – bathing with pancamrita (panca means five and amrita means nectar) – milk, honey, sugar, Ganga water, yogurt.. Abhhishek is done for the deities also on special occasions like appearance days of the incarnations. (14) King Bali, the benevolent demon king of the Patal loka (netherworld) was so powerful that he became a threat to the devas. Intimidated by his expanding empire and taking advantage of his well-known generosity, they sent Vishnu as the dwarf mendicant Vamana, to dilute Bali’s power. Vamana shrewdly asked the king for land that would cover three steps. The king happily granted this gift. Having tricked Bali, Vishnu revealed himself in the full glory of his Godhood. He covered the heaven in his first step and the earth in his second. Realizing that he was defeated against the mighty Vishnu, Bali surrendered and offered his own head inviting Vishnu to step on it as the third step. Vishnu pushed him into the nether world with his foot. In return Visnu promised to be his doorkeeper in his palace. He also gave him a blessing that Bali could return to his people once a year to light millions of lamps from this one lamp so that on the dark new moon light of Diwali, the blinding darkness of ignorance, greed, jealousy, lust, anger ego, and laziness would be dispelled and the radiance of knowledge, wisdom and friendship would prevail. (15) King Vikramaditya was named after his grandfather as Chandragupta II, He was known as the most prosperous King and had minted many gold coins that is still being found in archeological finds. (16) Lord Vamana is one of the 10 main incarnations of Lord Krsna (Visnu). The other nine are Matya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varaha (boar), Nrshimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf), Purshurama (warrior), Rama, Krsna Balaram, Buddha, Kalki. All these incarnations of the Lord perform superhuman pastimes as mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam and all their places of pastimes can be traced back. Srimad Bhagavatam is known as the incarnation of Lord Krsna Himself so every home should have Srimad Bhagavatam and it is said in the first chapter that one should daily recite. (17) Brahma Muhurta, it is the auspicious time before the sunrise (between 4.00 am and 6.00 am). This is a mode of goodness time and it is very good for spiritual life and meditation because it is very peaceful at that time. One’s memory can increase if one studies at this time. (18) Lapsee (is made from wheat lets and brown sugar) . Mung and lapsee are made on auspicious occasions. Some of the sweets and savories that are made in Gujarat are Gughara, Ghari, Ghaja, Sakarpara, Burfi, Penda, Aradiya, Mohanthal, Mesubpak, Magaz, Amritpak, Toprapak, Badam Pak, Mandvi Pak, Chakri, Chevdo, Mauthiya, Fafda, Farsi Puri, Sev, Seva Mamra, Gathia, Fully Gadhia, Fafda, Gathia, Suterfehni, Bombay Halvah. Other sweets are Bundi, Churma Ladwa, Kheer, Sev, Gulab Jammu, Rasagulla, Rubri, Lapsi, Jalebi, Siro and Khir. (19) History of Bhaibij. Yamaraja had visited his sister Yamuna on this day. They were twins and were separated by their step mother Chayya, the shadow incarnation of the wife of the Sun God. They hadn’t seen each other for so long so one day Yamaraj visits his sister who asks for the boon that the brothers who visit their sisters on this day and bring a gift will not have to see Yamaraj untimely. In north India, sisters and brothers take bath in Yamunaji.

*(20) Yamala Arjuna Trees – were two demigods in heavenly planets called Nalkuvera and Manigriva who were bathing naked in a pond in open public place and did not respect Narada muni (respected sage of the Devas) when he arrived at that place. So he cursed them to become trees for millions of years until Lord Krsna would personally come and release them from their tree bodies.

Happy Diwali and New Year’s Celebrations. Please chant the glories of Lord Krsna by chanting His Holy Names. HARE KRSNA HARE KRSNA KRSNA KRSNA HARE HARE, HARE RAMA HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA HARE HARE.

4 comments

  1. 0
    kubrick says:

    Very interesting hodge podge of vaishnava-hindu beliefs but unsubstantiated with no reference to Srila Prabhupada or any of the acaryas in our line.
    Such a lengthy article and the only reference to Srila Prabhupada is totally out of context, as if we still have some use for it, or maybe cause it still has to be mentioned somehow to give weight to the totally nonsense article. And this matajis self proclaimed “Ayurvedic Lifestyle and Bhakti Yoga Instructor” seems to me a regular mataji with the particularity that the essence of our philosophy is dangerously eluding her.
    I am also into Ayurvedic Lifestyle and am a “Bhakti Yoga Instructor”, of course, what a funny name for aspiring vaishnava. Please be serious.
    When did Srila Prabhupada organize a Diwali festival or included it as a regular program in ISKCON?

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    Mother Gandharidasi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This article was writting for Diwali Sovenir for VHP and Gujarati Society and their websites. It was cordially received. Hope it is helpful to devotees as well.

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    Mother Gandharidasi ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dear Prabhus, Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. I humbly beg your pardon for any offenses to the devotees who find this article offensive.
    It is already explained in the previous comment, that this article was for people who celebrate diwali, which has become very commercialized. I was hoping that by showing the original reasons for those functions, they can be inclined to come to read Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavatam and chant the Holy Names of the Supreme Lord Krsna and bring back the original culture and religion of hearing, chanting and remembering Lord Visnu in various incarnations.
    As far as my the title goes, it helps to attract New age and health concious people to join to Ayr and Bhakti Yoga classes and thus become devotees within six months by the Grace of Srila Prabhupada, local Vaisnavas and temple programs. Again, I beg your pardon for misunderstanding, I had sent the comment along with the article but must have been printed later.
    Begging to remain in the association of Vaisanavas.

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    Akruranatha ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Thank you for this nice article Mother Gandhari. Being an American with very little knowledge of Diwali I appreciate the opportunity to hear about it from an ISKCON devotee like you.

    In my experience in ISKCON in America we hardly learned anything about Diwali. Govardhana Puja is of course our major celebration at that time of year, and we did very little for Diwali besides perhaps lighting some candles. We did hear about Rama returning to Ayodhya in connection with Diwali, but Diwali was not a major holiday for us.

    I do believe Srila Prabhupada celebrated Diwali with his disciples while preaching in India, but I was not there. I would like to hear from any devotees who had the opportunity to celebrate Diwali with Prabhupada.

    The killing of Narakasura and liberation of the 16,100 princesses is a wonderful story in the Bhagavatam and Krishna book. So many of the other references in your article are also described in the Bhagavatam. We have lots of good things to read and discuss in Prabhupada’s books in connection with Diwali.

    I appreciate your efforts to remind people of the spiritual significance of Diwali when too often it may be commercialized and made into something mundane. It is nice that VHP is receiving articles from followers of Prabhupada, which mention Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya and the Maha Mantra. This is good preaching. Congratulations.

    I was sorry to see the reaction of kubrick. He (I assume it is a “he”) may have felt that you were “Hinduising” ISKCON. I see that you are “ISKCON-izing” Hinduism. Thank you.

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