Diwali – The Season of Festivals

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Diwali - The Season of Festivals
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The most important Hindu festival, festival of lights, Diwali is the grandest … Don’t forget to share Diwali joy and sweets with your office colleagues and neighbors …

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taraGg ­ diwAlI special

october 2003

X diwali – the season of festivals X
The most important Hindu festival, festival of lights, Diwali is the grandest Home-Coming party for Lord Rama and is celebrated as a five day extravaganza of harvest festival for all, new year for businesses, shopping galore, and a day of family reunion and merriment in general!

Don’t forget to share Diwali joy and sweets with your office colleagues and neighbors!
By modern `conservative’ measures, more than two millennia before common era (astronomical references put it seven millennia before), on the day of Vijaya Dashami (vijayA dashamI ­ vijayA= of victory, dashamI = tenth day; ivajayaadSamaI), Lord Rama killed the mighty king Ravana (rAvaNa ­ one who makes others cry, the biggest bully ever; ravaNa), who had abducted his wife Sita (sItA ­ from the plough’s furrow, daughter of king janaka; saItaa). For this reason Vijaya Dashami is also called Dashahara (dasha-harA­ killing of the ten headed, rAvaNa; dSahra). Coincidentally, Jewish Yom Kippur falls on the 10th day of Tishri month, a day after Dashahara. It is followed by the harvest festival Sukkot, just like Dashahara is followed by Diwali! killing is sin otherwise!

ipawali (dIpAvalI ­ row of lights; dIpaavalaI) is the most important fes tival of almost a billion people of India, the oldest continuous living civilization with most ancient spiritual and faith systems. Commonly, though erroneously, referred to as `Hinduism’ by others, this system calls itself as `Philosophia Perennia’ or Sanatan Dharma (sanAtana dharma ­ sanAtana= eternal, dharma= principles, truth, righteousness, duty, nature, ethics etc.; sanaatana DamaY). Just like science is only called science no matter which scientist is your parents liked, Sanatan Dharma is an ocean of wisdom of great visionaries across the ages ­ no personal agenda, no mission against `the others’, just pursuit of the truth! Since it was experienced, discovered and envisioned by seers and yogis at a time when religious or faith based rivalry, violence or oppression was unheard of, `Hinduism’ is just a way of living and has no specific name for itself. In that sense, by its very definition, every living thing ­ human, animal and plant ­ is `Hindu’ at various spiritual stages of life cycles. Dipawali is commonly called by its shortened name ­ Diwali. It is in every sense the festival of lights. Celebrated on the newmoon night of the month of Kartik (kArtika ­ name of zodiac; kaitaYk) in October/November, it is primarily a harvest festival. Almost all ancient/original cultures of the world have certain harvest festivals at this time of the year ­ e.g. Halloween of the preChristian Europe, Sukkot of the Jews. But in India, it is a full five day affair, with many important events falling during this period, that kept on adding to the already weighty importance of Diwali. There are wonderful interesting epic legends that bring the joy and meaning of life alive by creating a visual panorama through its characters and events (instead of dry sermonizing). Diwali is also the grandest home-coming party in the world, celebrated on the occasion of the return of Lord Rama (rAma ­ benefactor, kalyANakArI; rama) from his long fourteen years of exile in the forest, twenty days after killing Ravana.

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There is an interesting and often unknown reason why Divine Lord Vishnu (viShNu ­ the all pervading; ivazNau) had to take avatar (avatAra ­ the descent, of divine beings to earth; Avataar) in the human form as Rama. Ravana was a powerful Rakshasa (rAkshasa ­ the one who chose to protect the primordial waters; raxasa ) and upon his mother’s behest performed extreme austerities to please the Creator Lord Brahma (brahmA ­ the expansive, God The Creator; /ba&a). Upon his grace, Ravana asked for eternal immortality which Lord Brahma said could not be bestowed (because of his deeds!). So Ravana asked for "immunity from killing at the hands of Garuda, Naag, Yaksha, Daitya, Danava, Rakshasa, Devataa (all `other super creations’ of the Creator, much powerful than humans or animals! I am not afraid of other creatures, and humans I consider them (weak) as a straw!". After his boon, Ravana became the worst bully the world has ever seen. Hence the name Ravana. To kill him and still honor Lord Brahma’s boon to him, Lord Vishnu, the ever practical and wise, takes birth as Rama ­ the "Best Among Men" and partial avatar as his three brothers! In the first grand novel of the world, Ramayan (rAmAyaNa ­ the travels of rAma; ramaayaNa), comprising of 24,000 beautiful metrical verses, the life and adventures of Lord Rama in human form are described in the most interesting and poetic way. Its antiquity can be guessed by the fact that it was composed in a time when script was not yet commonplace. Having all the Nava Rasa (nava rasa­ nine moods; navarsa) and elements of heroism, romance, mystery, super humans, terror, amorphous bodies, sorcery, surprise, humor, loyalty, bravery, fidelity, idealism, non-compromise on principles ­ the Ramayan is still unsurpassed in its beauty, wisdom and depth of human emotions and moods and a master story. It has effected every successful story ever told in India or elsewhere in every form of expression. Its direct popularity spread as far from Persia to Cambodia, without the force

Lord Rama flanked by Lakshmana and Sita and served by Lord Hanuman! ———— Every year, on Dashahara a giant effigy of Ravana is burnt to celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana, representing good over evil – both of which define each other! Without evil there is no good and vice versa! And both are created by the same Supreme Divine! Hence in Hinduism there is no sin by nature but by deeds of free will only. A lion (by his nature) or a butcher (by his duty of profession) get no sins for their acts, but

hir Ananta hir kTaa Anantaa



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