The Gods of Deepavali
Have you ever wondered about the significance behind the Festival of Lights? Read on to find out more...
The legend of Deepavali depicts tales of triumph over evil. One such tale is the Hindu God, Krishna’s, victorious triumph over a demon, another is of Hindu Goddess, Lakshmi’s, rise from the ocean.
However, the most famous tale of all is that of the brothers Ram and Lakshman’s successful defeat of Ravan, the ten-headed demon who had terrorised and oppressed the villagers for years. On their return to the village, Ayodhya, villagers light the paths of the heroes with ‘diyas’ (earthern ports of candle) in celebration and reverence of their victory.
To the Hindus, darkness symbolises ignorance, while light signifies a release from negative influences such as wickedness, violence, lust, anger, envy, greed, bigotry, fear, injustice, oppression and suffering.
Thus, it is customary to light diyas or keep the lights on in Indian homes on Diwali evenings to ward off evil. And that’s how Diwali also became known as the Festival of Lights.
On this day, it is also a must for Indian families to make a trek to the Indian temple or have a special prayer (Pooja) performed in their homes, usually in reverence to the Gods Ganesha and Lakshmi.
Read on about the Gods of Deepavali…
The Ganesha-Lakshmi Pooja
Even though the Hindu culture has many deities, traditionally only 2 Gods dominate the festival of Deepavali. The Goddess of wealth and prosperity – Lakshmi and the elephant-headed God Ganesha. Hindus pray to these 2 deities for fulfilment of wealth, health and good fortune for the upcoming year.
But of all the deities, why Ganesha and Lakshmi?
The story goes that Goddess Lakshmi who also personifies beauty, grace, and charm was bragging to her husband, Lord Vishnu about her virtues and how those who worship her will receive all the happiness and pleasures of the world. Hearing her boast, Lord Vishnu commented that despite all her womanly virtues, she had yet to experience the joys of motherhood.
Hurt by this comment, Goddess Lakshmi sought comfort in her friend Goddess Parvati, who had two sons, Kartikeya and Ganesha. Goddess Parvati then decided to gift her son, Ganesha, to Lakshmi, who in gratitude vowed that whenever she was worshipped, Ganesha would be too.
Thus, it became a Deepavali tradition to pray simultaneously to Lakshmi for a comfortable life and Ganesha to remove the obstacles in that path
More about Ganesha and Lakshmi.. Next page please!
Many wonder why Hindus worship so many different Gods, in so many different shapes and forms. The reason they do so, is because each Lord and his form symbolises a certain virtue or value.
Lord Ganesha for example, is depicted with an elephant head that comes with a curved trunk, big ears and a huge pot-belly. Ganesha’s head symbolises the eternal soul (Atman) and the ability to think big.
In his upper right hand, Ganesha holds an axe, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The rope in Ganesha’s left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties, while the broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice.
The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. His fan-like ears indicate his receptiveness to the petitions of his devotees, and the mouse by his side is a reflection of his humility and acceptance of even the lowest of creatures.
The word “Lakshmi” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Laksya”, meaning ‘aim’ or ‘goal’. In India, ‘lakh’ which means “one hundred thousand’ as a monetary unit, is the first part of Lakshmi’s name, symbolising her blessings that pour forth abundantly.
Although Lakshmi represents material wealth, there is a deeper meaning behind her significance. Imagine that you have all the money in the world, but if you do not possess the values of self-control and generosity, money and possessions are not going to bring you any happiness or contentment because you will always feel that you need more.
So what is true wealth? Is it our health, our family and friends, or even the simple joys in life like having the time to enjoy a good book or a delicious dessert? Perhaps at this time of the year, we should pause and reflect on what true wealth really means to us.
With that, we from theAsianparent would like to wish all mummies and daddies a very Happy Deepavali and a wealthy 2014!