We at Lotus Sculpture hope you all had a wonderful Hindu Festival of Lights! Many non-Hindus around the world have come to know of the religious holiday, but fail to truly understand what it entails or symbolizes for the greater Hindu community. Diwali is not just a religious holiday, but a spiritual and social holiday as well. According to the Hindu calendar, Diwali marks the beginning of a new year. It is a time to be re-acquainted with one’s inner spirituality and set goals and ambitions for the year ahead. The festival itself honors the Hindu Gods in many ways with both rituals and prayers.
The most revered of the deities during are Hindu Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, and God Ganesh, Remover of Obstacles. It is not hard to see why these are the most important Hindu deities during the festival, as believers wish for prosperity in their lives both financially and spiritually in the coming year as well as help from Lord Ganesh in guiding their path to defeat those obstacles that may have hindered them in the previous year.
It is also a time to honor the return of Lord Ram. The legend behind the return of Lord Ram from Sri Lanka is one of the most beloved within Hindu mythology. Legend has it that the evil King of Sri Lanka, Ravana, kidnapped Lord Ram’s wife, Sita. Ram and his followers proceeded to spend years building a bridge between Sri Lanka and India in order to defeat Ravana and save his beloved wife. Once the bridge lay complete, Lord Ram was successful in his plans of defeat and rescue. When Ram returned to India, people welcomed them back by lighting small clay pots and decorating their homes in homage. These lamps are said to symbolize the triumph of good over evil, just as Lord Ram did over Ravana. The themes behind this story now define the celebration behind the Diwali Festival to date.
Today, the festival is marked by vast displays of fireworks, devote worship, social gatherings, prayer, and cleaning up one’s life both physically and spiritually. It is a time of joyous celebration of life itself. The holiday itself should not be considered only an exclusive holiday for Hindus, as they invite people of all faiths to embrace the meaning behind the festival, shedding stresses, worries, and make goals for the coming year. If you were not able to participate this last week, join Hindus around the world in celebrating the Festival of Lights next year!
Today, November 14th, marks the second day of the 2012 Diwali Festival of Lights known as Choti Diwali, Naraka Chaturdashi, or Kali Chaudas. It is the 14th day of the Hindu month of Ashwin and the most important day of the festival for South Indians. Legend has it that on this day God Krishna defeated the evil demon Narakasura and is therefore celebrated by Hindus as a triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. It is not surprising then that Kali, which translates as dark, the Goddess of death, time, and change, is celebrated.
On this day of Diwali many perform Poojas, or religious offerings, for Lakshmi and Rama with delicious foods. It is also tradition to bathe in fragrant oils before the sun comes up early in the morning and wear fresh new clothing as part of the day’s ritual. Bathing under the cloak of darkness and stars is regarded as honoring the holy river of Ganges. Families and friends gather together for shared meals and celebrate the richness of the day with song and collective activities.
The morning after Choti Diwali women often make beautiful Rangoli around their houses and yards. Rangoli are artistic designs made on the floors of Hindu households and yards during religious festivals. They are thought to be welcoming areas for the Gods and are traditionally made from colored rice, colored flour, sand, and flower petals.
To celebrate, gather materials around the house such as rice, grains, flower petals, beads, or anything small and vibrant in color. Use dyes or food coloring to add color to less than vibrant pieces. Once you have gathered up enough supplies, make the entrance way to your home or business colorful using what you have collected. This is a joyful way to welcome the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity Lakshmi to your home so that she may bless you in the coming year. Examples of Rangoli designs can be found across the internet for inspiration!
Today, November 13th 2012, marks the beginning of the 5 days of Diwali. The first day of the Diwali is known as Dhanteras or Dhantrayodashi, which falls on the 13th day of the month Ashvin according to the Hindu calendar. The name comes from the root word Dhan or Wealth. Dhanteras is known as an opportune day for Hindus as they celebrate by buying precious metals such as gold or silver for good luck in the coming year. It is not surprising then that today is the day Hindus worship the revered Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth. For many Hindu businesses today marks the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Many worship this day through Lakshmi Puja, which is a Hindu tradition of placing lighted clay pots outside their homes in hopes that she may pay their home a visit and bless them with prosperity in the coming year. These lamps are left burning on doorsteps throughout the night in order to light her path. It is believed that Lakshmi only visits homes that are clean and to those who are hard-working and deserving of acquiring and preserving wealth. She does not visit the lazy or those that keep their homes uncleanly.
Worship with Hindus across the globe in worshipping Lakshmi by placing a small lamp upon your doorstep with offerings of saffron paste, flowers, sweets, fruits, and/or rice. Today is a day for peaceful worship and offering upon the beautiful Goddess Lakshmi.
It is also believed that today, an incarnation of Vishnu known as Dhanvantari, was born. Vishnu as Dhanvantari is known as the physician of the Gods. So in addition to Lakshmi, pay special devotion to Vishnu as Dhanvantari by paying homage to his birth.
Deepawali or more commonly known as Diwali, is the largest and most pronounced Hindu festival of the year. Known as the ‘festival of lights’, fireworks light the skies in merriment over a five day period. It is a celebration of life’s richness as families and friends gather together to partake in religious tradition. The skies are brilliantly lit up with not only fireworks, but thousands of clay oil lanterns lay outside Hindu homes as they wish for a visit from the revered Lakshmi, the Mother Goddess of the world. Some say the firecrackers are an effort to pay homage to the heavens for good health, enrichment, and prosperity. Others believe the mere sound of their luminescence is a symbol of human joy upon earth, making the gods aware of human collective happiness.
Originally Diwali is thought to have started in ancient times as a harvest celebration, but has since turned into a broader celebration of life itself. Some legends say that it is a festival to honor the marriage between Lakshmi and Hindu God Shiva, while others of Kali, Goddess of time and change. In most homes, Ganesh is also worshiped throughout the festival.
Diwali is celebrated around the globe. It is a time to reap joy over the conquering of good over evil; a time to illuminate our lives both literally and figuratively as a message of hope. In celebrating, one wishes for the strength to commit good acts throughout the year to come and to align oneself closer to the divine.
This year, celebrate the joy in your life and partake in the Diwali festival of lights within your home with your family and friends close at hand. Simply light a candle and meditate on the richness of life and the power to make positive change within your life in the coming year. This year’s Diwali festival begins on November 13th 2012. Dont miss it!
Lakshmi is no doubt worshiped throughout the year as the important Hindu Goddess of Wealth, but she is most astutely worship during the Hindu festival of Diwali, festival of lights. Diwali is a very important 5-day holiday on the Hindu calendar in which families celebrate traditional activities together in their homes. Participants in Diwali light small clay oil lamps which represents the conquering of good over evil. The lamps are left lit throughout the night as followers cleanse their homes in order to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. Throughout history people have put oil lamps outside their homes on Diwali in hopes that Lakshmi would come visit their homes and bless them. Lakshmi Puja is the most important day of the Diwali festival of lights in northern India. Fireworks are set off in order to send away evil spirits. Sweets and snacks are shared among family and friends and an overall grand celebration ensues.
It is no question that the Diwali festival is a celebration of great joy for Hindus, honoring Lakshmi’s abundance in their lives. Lakshmi is an endless symbol of wealth in all its forms. Wealth comes in many ways, not just the monetary wealth we think of. She is a symbol of wealth of knowledge, wealth of courage, wealth of victory, and every other way in which wealth manifests. Thus she is celebrated for her endless abundance. Lakshmi is a symbol of luck to most Hindus and is celebrated daily in most homes. She is a symbol of femininity for Hindu women with her gorgeous golden complexion sitting upon a blooming lotus bud. The budding lotus represents fertility and purity. She is believed to lead devotees into both material and spiritual prosperity.
As October is coming to a close, many Hindus are prepping for Diwali to start on the 13th of November, celebrated through the 17th of November. Prep your oil lamps and prepare to celebrate with Hindus across the globe and celebrate the diving beauty Lakshmi, Hindu Goddess of Wealth.
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