Diwali - the Festival of Lights
Diwali or as it is also called, the Festival of Lights, is a major Hindu celebration which symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. It is a 5-day festival celebrated in October and November all over India and countries where Hindu Diasporas exist. In the truest sense of the word, the “Diwali” means “several small icon lamps” as after the sunset people in India light up icon lamps made of clay (diyas) in their houses. In most of India states the festival is dedicated to the victory of Rama over the Demon Ravanna, but Diwali in Goa is celebrated in honor of the triumph of Krishna over the demon Narkasur that is similar to Dragons from European mythology which also invaded a village in the night, kidnapped and killed people.
There are several Indian legends dedicated to Diwali festival. According to one of them, the holiday is aligned with the coronation of Prince Rama – the 7 th Incarnation of the God Vishnu. At the night of his inthrone the whole country was wrapped up in millions of lights, and thus nowadays people light up the lights all over the country in his honor. According to another legend, the wisdom govern of Prince Rama marked the freedom from spiritual darkness, and thus the process of light up symbolizes the return of humanity from the darkness back to the light thanks to the legendary Prince.
DIWALI IN GOA AND OTHER PARTS OF INDIA
Each and every part of India has its own tradition and specification of Diwali celebration. In some regions Diwali aligns with the celebration of the New Year’s Day. Sellers and tradesmen fix and brush up their books of accounts, and people clean and decorate their homes with oil lams and colorful electric garlands making the cities and towns to gleam with thousands of lights.
In the greatest part of India the Diwali holiday is dedicated to the Lakshmi – the Goddess of wealth, prosperity and fortune and the wife of the God Vishnu. The houses are carefully and elaborately cleaned and decorated with different multicolored lamps and at the evening people light up all the lights as the Goddess doesn’t like the darkness. During the festival people pray Lakshmi asking her for fortune, wealth and prosperity, leave her fresh milk with coins put in it, and at night never close the doors for letting the Goddess to get easily inside the houses.
In the eastern parts of India the Diwali is dedicated to the worshipping (puja in Hindu) the Black Goddess Kali which personifies the authority and power cults. Therefore, people in Eastern India pray before the Kali’s images during 10 days, after which the Kali images are doused into the rivers or ponds.
The Diwali in Goa, as well as generally in all parts of South India, is celebrated in honor of God Krishna who won the battle with demon Narkasur. On the day of the legendary victory people in Goa and in South India copiously smear themselves with a coconut oil which sanctifies and free from sins as according to the local beliefs this ceremony is equivalent to the ceremony of ablution in the sacred river of Ganges.
Before the Diwali in Goa celebration starts, people built figures of Narkasur demon, dress it into colorful paper clothing and give it swords or other types of ancient weapons. Inside the figure people usually put fireworks. The whole day long boys stand next to their Narkasur figures and collect money, and everyone by giving some money join the general process of struggle of light against darkness.
Diwali in Goa also includes the lighting up of ceremonial torches which are the symbol of spiritual enlightenment, dancing on live coals, fireworks and funny family celebrations with gifts. The streets and houses during the festival are decorated with candles, clay lamps and torches.
HOW DIWALI IN GOA IS CELEBRATED?
Diwali in Goa is celebrated during 5 days each of which is dedicated to a separate legend. The first day which is also the most important day of the festival is called the Dhanvantari day and is dedicated to the main avatar of Vishnu. People believe that on this day Dhanvantari brought them the nectar of immortality which was the Ayurvedic knowledge. Thus, the first day of Diwali in Goa is a day for health, prayers and offerings during which people make a sacral food offering to the God Vishnu.
The second day of Diwali in Goa is called the Naraka Chaturdashi and is dedicated to the triumph of Krishna over the Naraka demon which according to the legend stolen treasures, valuable relics and even the most beautiful young girls but was finally outfought by Krishnu who returned all the stolen treasures to their owners. On this day people perform ablutions, and the head of the state lights up icon lamps in Krishnu temples which signifies the peaceful prosperity and well-being of people.
The third day of Diwali in Goa is called Lakshmi Puja and is dedicated to the memory and honor of Lakshmi and Genesha gods. People believe that the lighted fire can bring luck, calmness and richness and that’s why on this day people light fires in their houses trying to reach the gods centenary wisdom.
The fourth day of Diwali in Goa is called Govardhana Puja and has a particular importance for the North Goa citizens. According to the legend one day Krishna interrupted the praying to the God Indra for which the last one sent a strong storm and flood. Krishna defended the poor people and stopped those strong storm and flood. In memory and honor of this feat people, the night before the Govardhana Puja celebration, cook plenty of food in order to bring it to Krishna. The food is put into the form of pyramid and blessed following which it is divided and given to people in small portions.
The last day of Diwali in Goa is usually spent with brothers and sisters. During this day sisters pray for their brothers’ luck and the brothers treat their sisters with sweets and speak them compliments. According to the legend, on this day the Yama God met his sister Yami and renounced his immortality falling on the swords in order to create our world. This day is the day of welfare, peace and good.
The Diwali festival is one of the most interesting and beautiful holidays in India. As every Indian festival it is full of happiness, joy and harmony. Diwali in Goa is the most remarkable event which can easily bring you back to the ancient times telling you the most beloved legends and putting you up to the old Indian traditions observed in this part of India.
In 2017 the Diwali in Goa will be celebrated from October 19 till October 23. Don’t miss your chance to join the holiday celebration, enjoy the festival and pore over the history, legends and traditions of Goa people and Hindus.