Shubh Divali

Beez Neez
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Sat 17 Oct 2009 22:23
Significance of Divali, Diwali or Deepavali

Divali is the festival of light, people from all age groups participate in this traditional welcoming of the New Year, celebrated earlier than usual this year - it is deemed the longest night nearest the new moon. Hindu people give _expression_ to their happiness by lighting earthen 'diyas' about 5p each (lamps), decorating the houses, bursting firecrackers and inviting friends and relatives to their houses for a sumptuous feast.
The lighting of lamps is a way of paying obeisance to god for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valor and fame. It is one time in the whole year that children volunteer to leave their beds long before the day begins. In fact, the traditional oil bath at 03:00 is the only chore that stands between them and the pre-dawn adventures, the same excitement felt by those who wait for a visit from Santa Claus.


We got dressed up and ready by the gate to go with Jessie and three groups to the village where Jessie grew up - Felicity. We first went to a Temple where Sunni welcomed us and a trio of Tassa drummers. Jessie told us we could take as many pictures as we wanted to and get into the festive spirit, he said the locals light up little oil lamps, candles and scented sticks (agarbathis), set light to sparklers, fire crackers and home made "things" made of bamboo about three notches long infused with kerosene. Competition is stiff for the best lit house - no reason the Christmas lights cannot be used as well. We were told to expect little gifts of sweets, biscuits and food from the villagers.



Tassa group welcome. Bear in the temple and our aide








Amita danced for us and the tassa group performed in the temple. The colours were spectacular.






Second dance. The boys in the group were sad to find out that the beautiful Amita got married four months ago. Her mum was at the back watching.




People came and offered their prayers




The feast laid on for us was curried chick peas, stewed pumpkin, a mango/ginger dish, spiced vegetables and roti bread all served on a plantain.






While the first group ate we went to explore the school opposite, by now it was dark and the street was beginning to get a party atmosphere, lamps being lit.




All day bamboo frames are built, wet clay daubed and while still wet the little lamps set, filled with coconut oil and a wick to be lit as soon as dark came. or the best sparklers and flowerpots, the rockets and Vishnu chakras, which light-up the night sky like a thousand stars. Grown-ups are the soul of generosity. Festive bonhomie abounds.




History of Diwali

India is a land of festivals. Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated with fervor and gaiety. The festival is celebrated by young and old, rich and poor, throughout the country to dispel darkness and light up their lives. The festival symbolizes unity in diversity as every state celebrates it in its own special way. The celebration of the four-day festival commences on Aswayuja Bahula Chaturdasi and concludes on Kartika Shudda Vijiya. The first day of the festival Naraka Chaturdasi marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.



'Puranas' have it that Naraka, son of Bhudevi, acquired immense power from a blessing given by Lord Brahma after a severe penance. He soon unleashed a reign of terror in the kingdom of Kamarupa, harassing celestial beings with his invincible might. Unable to bear the tyranny of the demon, the celestial beings pleaded with Lord Krishna to save them from his torture. But Naraka could not be easily killed as he had a boon that he would face death only at the hands of his mother Bhudevi. So, Krishna asks his wife Satyabhama, the reincarnation of Bhudevi, to be his charioteer in the battle with Naraka. When Krishna feigns unconsciousness after being hit by an arrow of Naraka, Satyabhama takes the bow and aims the arrow at Naraka, killing him instantly. Later Lord Krishna reminds her of the boon she had sought as Bhudevi. The slaying of Naraka by Sathyabhama could also be taken to interpret that parents should not hesitate to punish their children when they stray on to the wrong path. The message of Naraka Chaturdasi is that the good of the society should always prevail over one's own personal bonds.




The second day is Amavasya when Lakshmi puja is performed. It is believed that on this day Goddess Lakshmi would be in her benevolent mood and fulfill the wishes of her devotees. One version says that it was on this day that Goddess Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagara (Ocean of Milk) when the Gods and demons were churning the sagara (ocean) for nectar (Amrit). The other version is that when Lord Vishnu in the guise of Vamana, sought three feet of land from the generous demon king Bali, the latter had to surrender his head as Vamana had conquered the earth and the sky in two strides. Lord Vishnu banishes Bali into the Pathala Loka (netherland) by keeping his third stride on Bali's head. Later, pleased by his generosity, Lord Vishnu grants him a boon and he in turn requests the Lord to guard his palace at Pathala Loka. Meanwhile, the Goddess is unable to bear the separation and her grief affects the functioning of the entire universe. Brahma and Lord Shiva offer themselves as guards and plead with Bali to relieve Vishnu. So, on the Amavasya day, Lord Vishnu returns to his abode and Goddess Lakshmi is delighted. It is believed that those who worship Goddess Lakshmi on this day would be bestowed with all the riches.





The third day is "Kartika Shudda Padyami." On this day Bali would come out of Pathala Loka and rule Bhuloka as per the boon given by Lord Vishnu. Hence, it is also known as "Bali Padyami".
The fourth day is referred to as "Yama Dvitiya." On this day, sisters invite their brothers to their homes.



However, in the northern part of India it is celebrated as the return of Ram along with Sita and Lakshman from his 14 years of exile after killing Ravana. To commemorate his return to Ayodhya, his subjects illuminated the kingdom and burst crackers. For the Gujaratis, Marwaris and other business community Diwali marks the worship of Goddess Lakshmi and also the beginning of the new financial year. For Bengalis, it is the time to worship Goddess Kali or Durga. The Goddess Durga continued her "Vilaya Tandava" even after killing demon Mahishasura.




Everyone we met we said "Shubh Divali", greeted back, given gifts and generally made very welcome.




Puja was tired and got her daddy to carry her, a street lamp and a little girl we named "princess"




Bear and a beautiful lady. A family who knew Kent and a little girl wanting her sore feet rubbed.




The main street, Hindi prayer flags and even a mini flashing it's lights