Diwali 101

Diwali 101 – Chirag Patel 2020 Nov 14

Happy Diwali to you all.
Diwali or as it is originally called – Deepavali, means row of lamps.
It’s a festival of lights.
Diwali is the biggest and the grandest festival in India.
There are some variations in celebration across various states in India. Yet, lighting lamps, making rangoli – that is, colored sand paintings on floor, exchanging sweets and goodwill, meeting friends/relatives, wearing new clothes, firing crackers – are all at core of diwali celebration.
Schools and colleges have mid-term vacation during this time in India.
Every festival in India has three aspects – bhautik that is materialistic, daivik that is religious and adhyatmik that is spiritual or divine.
Diwali at materialistic level is about cleaning homes, lighting lamps, eating good food and more.
At religious level, diwali is celebration of Lord Rama’s victory over evil king Ravana.
At spiritual level, Diwali is to remove darkness and to enlighten every being with divine light!
Celebration of diwali starts on 12th day of second fortnight of the lunar month Ashvin.
The 12th day – Vaak dvaadashi, we pray to sarasvati – pleasing goddess, giver of knowledge and wisdom.
The 13th day – dhan trayodashi, we pray to lakshmi – royal goddess, giver of wealth and prosperity.
The 14th day – kaali/naraka chaturdashi, we pray to kali – fierce goddess, giver of eternal joy.
The 15th or no moon day is the day of Diwali and we pray to divine form of all goddesses as eternal light to bring top most truth in life.
Very next day is the new year day for the people of western states of India – Gujarat and Rajasthan. This is 2077th year!
On this day, many temples have annakoot – a big mountain of food items. Many prepare 108 or 1008 vegetarian dishes as offering to god.
Next day is bhai dooj – celebration of bond between brother and sister.
Texas has special connection with Diwali. City of San Antonio is first in USA to celebrate diwali as official city festival. Dallas hosts diwali mela – diwali fair every year with around 100,000 people visiting the place. Diwali is celebrated across USA at grand scale in various cities such as – New York city, Los Angeles, San Franscisco, Cambridge, Jersey City,
Houston, Austin, Atlanta, Seattle, Philadelphia, Raleigh/Cary, Orlando, Miami, Indianapolis, Chicago, Washington DC, Baltimore, Lexington, Detroit, Milwaukee.
I will end with this mantra which reflects true spirit of Diwali.
God, From falsehood, lead me to truth;
From darkness or ignorance, lead me to light or knowledge;
From death, lead me to eternity
Om peace, peace, and peace only
Asato maa sadgamaya
tamaso maa jyotirgamaya
mrutyormaa amrutam gamaya
Om shanti shanti shantihi

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