Dipawali Special - Pauranik meaning of Dipawali rituals
Celebrated as the festival of victory of light over darkness by lighting the dark amavasya night with millions of lamps, Diwali is one of the most important fesitvals celebrated in the entire Bharatavarsha.
We all know that this was the day when Shriram returned to Ayodhya alongwith his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana after spending fourteen years in exile. However there are many rituals associated with the celebration of Diwali which we all follow but hardly understand the Pauranik significance of the same. Today in this special post of Sutradhar Blog I will try to throw some light on some of these rituals using primary sources.
According to Pauranik sources most of the rituals we follow during the celebration of Diwali are associated with Daityaraj Bali and his devotion towards Bhagwan Vishnu. When mighty Bali defeated and imprisoned all the gods and goddess, then Bhagwan Vishnu appeared in the form of Vaman and approached Bali in the middle of his sacrifice. Vaman Bhagwan asked for the donation of land he can cover in three steps. Shrihari in the form of Vamar covered Bali's entire kingdom in two steps and when he asked for the place to put his third step Bali presented his own head.
Seeing such devotion from the king of Daityas, Shrihari in the form of Vaman spoke, "O Bali! I bless you. Ask what you desire." Hearing these words Bali answered, "What do I seek for myself? I have already presented everything that was mine at your lotus feet. Now I want a boon for the benefit of the world. O Hari! You disguise yourself as a dwarf and in three days take three steps to cover the entire universe. Now please grant me the boon to rule this earth for three days in a year. O God! whoever lights lamps at their homes in these three days will be blessed by you and your wife Devi Lakshmi. Wherever there will be light Laksmi will reside there and whichever houses are dark will be occupied by Alakshmi."
This is the reason from the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of the Kartik for the next three days people keep their home well lit using lamps. Everyone in the kingdom of Bali is supposed to be happy and healthy. That is why these three days are celebrated with a lot of fun and various sports are conducted among neighbors and family members.
This was the day when all the gods and goddesses along with Devi Lakshmi were freed from Bali's prison by Bhagwan Vaman. After being freed Devi Lakshmi went to the ocean of milk and slept there. That is why whoever offers a bed to Devi Lakshmi for her to sleep comfortably, she resides in those homes and does not leave them for an entire year.
On the day of Diwali after taking a shower and completing the worship of Devi Lakshmi, toys are distributed and everyone is supposed to engage in sports and entertainment. After midnight the women of the house bang the soop to wake up devi Lakshmi and cast Alakshmi away from the house.
This is how Skanda Purana and Padma Purana describe the celebration of Diwali. This is the reason we light lamps and worship devi Lakshmi by offering her sweets made of milk and sugar and distribute toys. Now you also know why women of the house bang soop at midnight saying, "wake up o goddess Lakshmi."
According to Skanda Purana in ancient times on the first day of the bright fortnight of the Kartika month Mahadeva and Devi Parvati engaged in a friendly game of dice in which Gauri emerged victorious and Maheshwara had to leave Kailash without all his belongings. Wise men forbid gambling throughout the year however it is allowed for that one day. Whoever emerges victorious on this day has good fortune throughout the year. That is why people play the game of dice or gamble using cards to test their luck. On this day Lakshmi emerged as a cow on the request of devi Parvati, that is why there is a provision of worshipping cows on this day. We are also supposed to install a statue of Bali at the gate of our houses and worship him. According to Bhagwan Vishnu's boon any good deeds committed on this day in the name of Bali make Shrihari happy. This is why we see the statue of the Daitya king at people's doors on the day after Diwali.
Bulls and buffaloes were brought in a common place and then many sports activities were organized with them which were witnessed by the king alongwith his subject. It is possible that the distribution of toys made in the shape of animals is a symbolic continuation of this ritual in modern times.
For business people Diwali has another special significance, because most of the businesses follow the Shaka calendar established by Shalivahana, that means Diwali is the end of the past year and beginning of the new year for all the business people. That is the reason they bring out new account books and start the new financial year by worshipping them and offering prayers to Devi Lakshmi for a prosperous new year. Similar ritual is observed by kids by inaugurating a new Gullak.
We hope that this information will help you appreciate these rituals even more and you would observe these activities with better understanding. With this team Sutradhar wishes you a very happy Diwali and a prosperous new year.