Celebrate, Feel the Joy, Because Life Is Light. By Sri Sri Ravishankar.

Vishal Chauhan, 04/02/2019
Celebrate, Feel the Joy, Because Life Is Light. By Sri Sri Ravishankar.

India is a land of festivals; every region celebrates many festivals throughout the year, which is what makes India vibrant and colourful. While certain festivals are identified with a particular region, Deepavali is one festival that has been celebrated all across India since time immemorial.


In the Shakta tradition, which has existed since pre-Vedic times and continues to this day, Deepavali is associated with Kali Puja and is known as Maha Ratri.  This tradition of invoking and worshipping Mother Divine during Deepavali is particularly popular in eastern parts of India and in Nepal.


In ayurvedic tradition, this day is celebrated by paying obeisance to Lord Dhanvantri, creator of ayurveda, teacher of physicians, and provider of good health.

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In every millennium there has been a major event associated with Deepavali, the first being that of Bali Chakravarthi, in the time of Vamana Avatar, even before the time of Rama and Krishna. Legend has it that King Bali of Kerala pleased God and endeared himself to the world by his acts of charity and generosity, so much so that, to this day in Central and South India, Bali Padyami is celebrated as obeisance to Bali.
 
In the Treta Yuga, Deepavali is related to celebration of Rama’s homecoming after his victory over the demon king Ravana, in Lanka.


In the Dwapara Yuga, the festival is associated with Krishna’s slaying of Narakasura and restoring light, peace and harmony in society. This day is also celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi.


In Gujarat and Rajasthan, it is celebrated as the New Year. In some parts of India, Vikram Samvat starts on the day of Deepavali and this is a special day that is celebrated in Sikh and Jain traditions, too.

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Customs surrounding the festival may vary from place to place, but in essence they are the same. Interestingly, in Southern India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, there is a belief that the River Ganga comes into everyone’s homes on this special day. People greet each other, asking, “Did you have your Ganga bath?” Ganga ji and light are used as metaphors for knowledge.
 
At the outer level, Deepavali is enjoyed and celebrated by the lighting of lamps, but from an inner point of view, it is really meant to reveal the light of knowledge and joy and welcome it into one’s life and dispel the darkness of ignorance. Don’t be satisfied with just lighting lamps. Light the lamp of wisdom within you, acquire knowledge and awaken all the dimensions of life.
 
In the Sama Veda it is said “Ayu Jyotihi” - Life is Light. Gautama Buddha also said, “Appa Deepo Bhavah” -- Be a light unto yourself.  It is a festival to remind you that you, too, are light.


Deepavali is the time to light lamps, wear new clothes, exchange gifts and create goodwill for all. It is also a time to meditate and experience the deeper aspects of this celebration; to contemplate on deeper knowledge that will lift the curtain of ignorance and let the light shine within and without.


This Deepavali, let’s resolve to bring light and joy to everyone around us. Hearty Deepavali greetings to everyone; have a happy and safe time.

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