Here’s a detailed blog on the spiritual significance of Deepavali/Diwali. May the festival of lights bring in joy and peace to each one of us. This blog has the following sections:
- What is Diwali?
- Deepavali Story
- Why is Diwali celebrated?
- Is Deepavali a religious festival?
- Why is Diwali called the festival of lights?
- Spiritual Significance of Diwali/Deepavali
- Diwali 2022
What is Diwali?
Here’s a downloadable PDF article on spiritual significance of Diwali.
Diwali is a festival of lights celebrated in India and other countries with large Hindu populations. It is a five-day celebration, starting on the thirteenth day of the dark half of the Hindu month Kartika. The celebrations last for 5 days. Although the fun and social aspects of this festival are widely popular, the spiritual significance of Diwali gets little attention. Let’s first understand the what these 5 days of festival represent.
Diwali celebrations begin on the day of Dhanteras or Dhanathrayodashi. It is the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Kartik month and marks the beginning of Diwali. That day, houses and buildings are decorated and Rangoli is put on the doors. On this day in the evening, Goddess Dhanalakshmi is invited to the house with a five-light lamp, worshiped and Mahalakshmi stotras such as Kanakadharastavam are recited.
Naraka Chaturdashi is the second day of Diwali celebration. It is Krishnapaksha Chaturdashi in the month of Kartika. Lord Krishna who killed Narakasura is worshiped on that day. This is the most important story that is the bedrock of religious and spiritual significance of Diwali.
Lakshmi Puja is the third day (new moon) of Diwali celebrations. This is the most important Diwali celebration in Northern India. On that day, Ganapati, Lakshmi or the three forms of Adiparashakti namely Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati, Mahakali and Kubera are worshipped.
Bali Pratipada is celebrated on the first day of Shuklapaksha in the month of Kartika. It is believed that this is the day when Vamana stepped on the underworld and Mahabali comes to visit the land. Although customs vary from state to state, bathing, wearing new clothes and giving each other gifts are common. Apart from this, it is customary to decorate the yard with rangoli or kolam, build seven forts with clay or cow dung, worship Bali and his wife Vindhyavali, and light lamps in a row.
Bhatr Dwitiya and Bahu-Bij are celebrated on the fifth day of Diwali celebrations. Diwali celebrations end with this. This celebration is on the second day of Shuklapaksha in the month of Kartika. Legend has it that Yama, the god of death, visited his sister Yami. Hence, this day is also called Yama Dwitiya.
There are many legends about the celebration of this festival.
- Diwali is celebrated to represent Lord Rama ‘s return to Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile.
- The celebration of Lord Krishna ‘s slaying of Narakasura. This is important in Southern India and renders itself as the root for the spiritual significance of Diwali/Deepavali.
- This is an important day for Sri Bhagavati. Devotees worship Mahalakshmi on that day to alleviate poverty. It starts with Dhana Lakshmi Puja.
- According to Jainism, Diwali is celebrated to commemorate Mahavira ‘s attainment of Nirvana.
Why is Diwali celebrated?
One tradition links the festival to legends in the Hindu epic Ramayana, where Diwali is the day Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman reached Ayodhya after a period of 14 years in exile after Rama’s army defeated the army of the demon king Ravana.
According to another popular tradition, in the Dvapara Yuga period, Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, killed the demon Narakasura, who was the evil king of Pragjyotishapura near present-day Assam, and released 16,000 maidens held captive by Narakasura. Diwali was celebrated to mark the triumph of good over evil after Krishna’s victory over Narakasura. The day before Diwali is commemorated as Naraka Chaturdasi, the day Narakasura was killed by Krishna.
Many Hindus associate the festival with Goddess Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity and wife of Vishnu.
Is Deepavali a religious festival?
Yes, Deepavali is a religious festival that has mentions in the sacred texts of Hinduism, and Jainism. But the festival has social, economic, cultural significance as well, although the root lies in its religious significance.
Why is Diwali called the festival of lights?
The king of Pragjyotishpur city was a demon named Narakasura. With his power, he troubled all the gods like Indra, Varuna, Agni, Vayu etc. He also started troubling the saints and conducted atrocities on women. He also imprisoned 16 thousand women. When his tyranny increased a lot, the gods and sages went to the shelter of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna assured them that he would get rid of Narakasura. But Narakasura was cursed to die at the hands of the woman, so Lord Krishna made his wife Satyabhama the charioteer and with her help killed Narakasura.
In this way, Shri Krishna killed Narakasura on the Chaturdashi of Krishna Paksha of Kartik month and liberated the gods and saints from his terror. In his happiness, on the second day i.e. Amavasya of Kartik month, people lit lamps in their homes. Since then the festival of Naraka Chaturdashi and Deepawali started being celebrated.
Spiritual Significance of Diwali/Deepavali
As per the English translation of Deivathin Kural Vol 7 by Shri ST Ravikumar, Kanchi Mahaperiyava has said that, Bhooma Devi, the mother of Narakasura, desired that the day her son was lost, should be observed as a festival for all times to come without any break. Because it is a festival, she also ensured inclusion of holy bath, wearing of new clothes, eating sweets etc. To ensure that there is something new and innovative so that her son is remembered, she obtained the boon, that the oil bath should be taken before sun rise. Notwithstanding the acceptance of Bhagawan, she wanted to do something to remove the apprehension of those people who may be wary of doing this which was in contradiction to accepted principles. So she thought that if it is made that Lakshmi will reside in the oil that we apply and Ganga Matha reside in the hot water that we take bath, nobody will get scared and no one will think that they do not need Lakshmi or Ganga. Therefore, she thought that, along with the joy of the festival, all the people will also get Punya. That is why, this bath got the name of Ganga Snana. In addition, she also obtained for all of us, the boon that the persons who take this Ganga snanam should not get any fear of hell and also sudden or accidental (untimely and horrible) death and diseases. According to Kanchi Mahaperiyava, Deepavali was the king of festivals and attached a lot of importance to it.
Words of great saints like Kanchi Mahaperiyava are to be considered as the highest of pramanas and therefore the above excerpt from the English translation of Devathin Kural must be sufficient to convince anyone about the significance of Diwali.
Diwali of 2022 falls on Monday, 24 October, 2022.
Karthik Amavasya Tithi Timing: October 24, 5:27 pm – October 25, 4:18 pm
Pradosha puja time : October 24, 5:50 pm – October 24, 8:22 pm
Source of Diwali date and puja timing: Prokerala