SHUBH DEEPAAVALEE – 2019 by Védaachaarya Pandit Roop Sukhram
Deepaavalee Kee Haardik Shubhkaamanaayé – Happy Deepaavalee to all. As we celebrate Deepaavalee, let us invoke the presence of Shree Lakshmee Maa within and without, so that Her Divine Light may brighten our lives inside and outside. May Lakshmee Maa bestow the gifts of prosperity, health and wealth upon all. Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad 1:3:28 supports: Öm asatö maa-sadgamaya. Tamasö maa-jyotir-gamaya. Mrityör maa-amritam-gamaya – Lead us from ignorance to bliss. Lead us from darkness to light. Lead us from death to liberty.
Deepaavalee is the grandest of Hindu celebrations in and outside of India. It is the Festival of Lights and Thanksgivings. Annually, Deepaavalee is celebrated on Amaavaasyaa, the fifteenth night of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Kaarttika, which occurs within the Gregorian months of October-November. For millennia, Deepaavalee, which is a post-harvest or Thanksgiving festival has been celebrated by Hindus everywhere. As crops bring prosperity, the people, originally an agrarian community, offer thanksgiving to Lakshmee Maa. Afterwards, they will extend their goodwill by sharing with neighbors, friends and relatives.
The word Deepaavalee is derived from the compound of two Sanskrit words: Deepa, which means light, and Aavalee, meaning a row. Thus, Deepaavalee, literally means, “A Row of Lights.” On this day, Hindus would make certain that everything is spotlessly clean. New utensils, clothing and things for the home become a priority, as the common belief holds firm that prosperity this day will last the entire year ahead. Actual preparations begin weeks before with the thorough cleaning-up of the home, and everyone would participate in this mental and physical conditioning to remove all impurities. During this period, fasting is observed, followed with prayers at homes and in Mandirs (temples). Alms are distributed to the needy and poor, and gifts would be exchanged among neighbors, friends and relatives. After prayers, diminutive earthen lamps called Deeyaa are lit to eradicate the darkness that exists within and without, so that the illuminance of Mother Lakshmee’s Divine light may permeate our lives. As Poojaa (worship) is observed at homes and temples worldwide, Hindus would embellish their homes and places of business with Deeyaa and all sorts of lights, to invoke and usher Mother Lakshmee; that She may always reside within their lives. The belief holds that poverty and ignorance may never be attached to someone having the presence of Shree Lakshmee. However, although the highlight of Deepaavalee is often done on one night, it is a five days celebration as follows:
- Dhanterasa – the first: It is the Trayödashee or the thirteenth day in the dark fortnight of Kaarttika. The first Deeyaa is lit and Dhanvantari, the celestial physician is honored. Ayurveda science of medicine is attributed to him and it is believed that he bestows the gift of health and the preservation of youthfulness to those that seek his blessings. Ayurveda Samhitaa and Brahmavaivarta Puraana eloquently declared: “He appeared dressed in yellow and adorned with beautiful jewelry. Thus, both Dévaa and Asura offered their salutations. His appearance was that of a young and dashing Lord Vishnu, and in His hands, he carried the Amrita Kalasha – A Jar with the elixir of immortality and life’s panacea.”
- Naraka Chaturdashee – the second: This is the fourteenth in the dark fortnight of Kaarttika and the second Deeyaa is lit. This night highlights two aspects of observances; one to Bhagavan Shiva and the other to Shree Krishna. After consuming the Halaahala – Deadly Poison, it is stated that Bhagavan Shiva designated this day as “Conquering Death.” Secondly, although there are several versions of worship that highlights Yamaraaja, traditionally, this day observes the defeated of Narakaasura by Shree Krishna. However, it is noteworthy that Deepaavalee was observed long before the advent of Shree Krishna. The following Mantrah is dedicated to Bhagavan Shiva. Rig Veda 10.136.07: “Vaayu stirred it, and Kunannamaa ground it and presented the poison in a Kalasha – goblet to Shiva, The Longhaired Ascetic. Thus, that Mighty Rudra drank it.”
- Amaavaasyaa – the third: This is the fifteenth night in the dark fortnight of Kaarttika. This is the pinnacle and highlight of Deepaavalee Festival and it is dedicated to Maataa Lakshmee.
- Gövardhana Püjaa -the fourth: Following Deepaavalee, Govardhan puja is observed and the fourth Deeyaa is kindled. It is named Pratipadaa, the first day in the bright fortnight of the Hindu Month of Kaarttika. The Scriptures state that once Lord Krishna saved the people of Vrindaavan by sheltering them under Mount Govardhana. Hence, Govardhana Poojaa is observed.
- Bhaiyaa Duja – the fifth and final day of this auspicious festival, the last Deeyaa is kindled. It occurs on the second day of the bright fortnight of Kaarttika and it is called Bhaiyaa Duja (Dooja), which literally means, Brother’s Day. Although Rakshaa Bandhana is globally popular, this day is the original day for honoring brothers. Rakshaa Bandhana became popular because of political reason.
Happy Deepaavalee, from my family to yours. May the blissful light of Lakshmee Maa illuminate your lives and fulfill your desires. Maa aasheervaada.