शत्रुबुद्धिविनाशाय दीपज्योतिर्नमोऽस्तु ते॥
śubhaṁ karoti kalyāṇam ārogyaṁ dhanasampadaḥ |
śatrubuddhivināśāya dīpajyotirnamo’stu te ||
The lamp light brings auspiciousness, prosperity, health and wealth in abundance.
My salutations to that light, that it may destroy ignorance,
which is the enemy of the intellect.
Dīpāvalī – Dīpa āvalī means “row of lamps”. It is probably the most important or celebrated festival in the Indian calendar, consisting of three days as a rule, which may vary according to the region.
The festival of lights comprises a lot of abundance, its central figure, for most Indians, is the goddess of prosperity and resources, Śrī Lakṣmī.
On this occasion, the houses are renovated, clean and very well decorated. Lights are lit, whether traditional oil lamps or even the LED lights that we usually use for Christmas decorations. Rangolis (drawings made with a mixture of rice flour and powdered stone) are drawn on the ground, with many colors and shapes. In fact, all the details include a lot of color, luminosity and sweetness, manifested both in the gastronomy, in the impressive variety of sweets, as well as in the care and attention with which everything is made. In many places, fireworks often fill the sky, however, in recent years, more and more restrictions on their use have been established due to pollution.
The Dīpāvalī starts on the trayodaśī (thirteenth day of the lunar calendar) of the month of Kārtika and goes until the āmāvāsya (day of the new moon, fifteenth day of the lunar calendar).
In the trayodaśī, rituals are performed for the goddess Lakṣmī. According to the purāṇas (Hindu literature made up of stories about gods and men), on that day, Śrī Lakṣmī was born from the ocean of milk that was stirred by devas and asuras in order to find amṛta (immortality). Based on this belief, people renovate, organize and decorate their homes, leaving everything very attractive for the Goddess to come and visit them and stay there throughout the year. Footprints at the entrances are common, representing the arrival of Devi in the houses. In addition, people buy new golden utensils and wear new clothes, which is similar to the idea of the New Year, the search for renewal so that the new year is favorable.
This day is also very important for traders. With the blessings of the Goddess, the old cash books are closed and the new ones are started, thus starting a new cycle for the business. For everything to prosper, Śrī Lakṣmī is abundantly honored by this class with rituals and plenty of abundance.
On the second day, naraka caturdaśī, the god Kṛṣṇa is revered for having defeated the demon Naraka. It is a time to renew and deepen śraddha (sense of trust, validity) in the law of dharma (law that governs what is right). A day when justice happens, what is right prevails over what is not. We can see this event from the perspective of values. In Bhagavad Gītā, Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa talks about the twenty values to be followed in order for a person to succeed. Those who are dharmic and possess qualities like ahiṁsā (a disposition free from violence) prevail. For someone whose goal is Mokṣa (freedom), values are paramount for knowledge to take hold in the mind, which needs to be refined enough to assimilate the teaching whose purpose is the understanding that we are actually already free from the limitations of which we seek to release.
The day of āmāvāsya, which is actually called Dīpāvalī, is the day when Lord Rāma and his wife Sītā (considered avatāra or reincarnation of the goddess Lakṣmī herself) return to Ayodhyā after fourteen years living in the forest. The people who worshiped Bhagavān Rāma with great joy celebrate his return, with rows of lamps and thus the darkest night of the year is all lit up. The arrival of Lord Rāma has a beautiful meaning, it represents the attainment of knowledge of the absolute reality, which is the true identity of the individual. Only through this knowledge can the darkness, which represents ignorance, be removed. In many cultures, light that dispels darkness symbolizes knowledge that suppresses ignorance. In Vedic culture, this aspect is preponderant, as can be seen in the mantra mentioned at the beginning of this text, which must be chanted when lighting the lamp.
May we celebrate Dīpāvalī not only on the day of the festival, but on all other days as well, lighting the lamp in our hearts with the flame of knowledge of the limitless Being that we are. Therefore, may we lead a dharmic life, following Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s teaching on values. A life filled with the increasing clarity that Vedānta provides, resulting in a life of wholeness and meaning.
Om sad gurave namaḥ _/\_
Written by Maline Ribeiro