Diwali Di Raat

"Diwali Di Raat, Deeve Baliyan,
Jaage Sant Jana, Mere Ram Pyaare"

I think it defines that on the night of Diwali we all light up Deevas. The lightening of lamps is a way of paying obeisance to god for attainment of peace, love, wealth, health and knowledge. And on Diwali night people worship God and goddesses and place Diyaas (lamps) in the home, in verandahs, courtyards, and gardens, as well on outer walls and on rooftops. It is time for Pooja and tradition and also time for fun and revelry.

Diwali or Deepawali is among the important festivals in India. Deepawali means "rows of diyas" (Deep= lamp, vali= array). It is celebrated through out India. Diwali is most glamorous and important. Diwali is the time for everyone to rejoice looking forward to a bright future. Enthusiastically enjoyed by people of every religion, it's magical and radiant touch creates an atmosphere of joy and festivity. Diwali, festival of lights, symbolizes the victory of righteousness and lifting of spiritual darkness. Diwali leads us into truth and light. As a family festival, it is celebrated 20 days after Dussehra and on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin (October/ November).

The preparations of Diwali begin well in advance. People start decorating their homes, preparing sweets, thousand of lamps are lit to create a world of fantasy. Each house entrance is made colorful with lovely traditional motifs of
"Rangoli" designs to welcome Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. It is believed that goddess Laxmi visits everyone during Diwali and brings peace and prosperity to all. On this day, businessmen do Pooja of account books and start writing their new accounts.

In villages cattle are adorned and worshipped by farmers as they form the main source of their income. In the south, cows are offered special veneration as they supposed to be the incarnation of goddess Laxmi and therefore, they are adorned and worshipped on this day.

Diwali celebrates Rama's homecoming, that is his return to Ayodhya after completing 14 years exile in forests after the defeat of Ravana. It celebrates the victory of good over evil.

As with other Indian festivals, Diwali signifies many different things to people across the country. In Punjab, winter crops are sown and the day following Diwali is knows as Tikka paste with saffron and rice and sisters place an auspicious mark on their brother's forehead gesture to ward off all harm.

In Gujarat, the festival honors Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. For the Jains, it is the day of "Nirvana" of lord Mahavira. In Maharashtra, It is the thirteen-day of Ashwin. For most eastern states like Bengal, Assam and Orissa along with Bihar, it is associated with Goddess Kali. In Tamil Nadu, Diwali is more daytime Festival.

Sikh Significance

Diwali is the anniversary of Guru Hargobind ji being released from the prison at Gwalior Fort. In was on this day in 1619 A D. The kind Guru ji refused to leave the fort of his own and demanded release of other 52 Hindu Rajas. The Moghuls being the cunning rulers they were, decided on a compromise. They said all the Maharajas that can hold onto your Chowla (gown) could walk out free along side you. The Sikhs smartly made a special Chowla with 50 long strips and all the prisoners walked free. Guru Hargobind ji is known as Bandhi Chhor because the imprisoned ones (Bandhi) were released (Chhor) by Him. Upon their return to Amritsar grand celebrations were held. Harmandir Sahib ji (Golden Temple) was illuminated and fireworks were displayed. Gurbani Kirtan (Hymns) and prayers were performed.

Guru ji was always prepared to sacrifice his own freedom for the sake of other innocent people. Once Guru ji was accompanying Jahangir, then, a tiger attacked Jahangir. He fired all his shots/arrows but missed attacking on tiger. His accompanying officers failed to respond to his distress call. Brave Guru ji got off His horse and put the tiger to rest with His sword. This incident made Jahangir feel obliged to Guru ji for having saved his life and he began to repent for the sin he had committed by ordering assassination of Guru Arjun Dev ji (Guru ji's father). He visited Guru ji's mother, Mata Ganga ji and apologized for the cruelty. Guru ji demonstrated the extreme and difficult virtue of "forgiveness" when He saved Jahangir's life from an attacking tiger, despite all the hostility and the awful act of ordering assassination of the 5th Guru, Guru Arjun dev ji with an excuse that the latter was a threat to Islam.

Diwali of 1737

Bhai Mani singh transcribed the final version of Guru Granth Sahib upon dictation from Guru Gobind Singh ji in 1704 at Damdamma Sahib. After heavenly abode of Guru Sahib in 1708 he look charge of Harmandir Sahib ji's management. In 1737, invitations were rent to the Sikhs all over India to join Bandi Chhor Diwas celebrations at Harmandir Sahib. A tax of 5000 rupees (some say 10,000) had to be paid to the Mogul governor of Punjab; Zakariya Khan. Bhai Mani Singh Ji later discovered the secret plan of Zakariya khan to kill the Sikhs during the gathering. Bhai Mani Singh ji immediately sent message to all the Sikhs not to turn up for celebrations. Zakariya Khan wasn't happy about the situation and he ordered Bhai Mani Singh ji's assassination at Lahore by ruthlessly cutting him limb-by-limb to death. Ever since, the great sacrifice and devotion of Bhai Mani Singh ji is remembered on the Bandi Chhor Diwas (Diwali) celebration. After knowing the great history of these occasions or festivals, heart wants to say:

Hey Waheguru!
"Raaj Na Chaahayu, Mukti Na Chaahyu
Man Preet Charan Kamlaare"

Oh Wonderful Lord!

I neither desire for empire and material realm nor liberation or mukti,
my soul longs for the love of your lotus feet.

Celebrating Diwali and Lightening a Deeva in true sense is acquiring divine knowledge and being selfless, tolerant, humble, kind and sweet spoken. That leads one to become one with Waheguru (god).

Pray to God on this beautiful occasion of Diwali to give us light,
to give us understanding,
so that we may know what
pleaseth thee,
and may all (all whole mankind)
prosper by the Grace.

Waheguru ji Ka Khalsa, (Hail God's Khalsa)
Waheguru ji ki Fateh. (Victory be to God)

*Happy Deepawali*


More by :  Rhea Sidhu

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