AS the Festival of Lights descends upon us once again, it is time to reflect on the significance of the rituals that come with it.
In celebrating the destruction of evil and the triumph of goodness, Malaysia Hindu Sangam deputy president Kandasamy Velayuthan and International Society for Krishna Consciousness secretary general Simheshwara Dasa tell StarMetro about the symbolic meanings behind the festivities.
1 Light of new beginning
Fire plays many roles in Hindu rituals. Purification. Auspiciousness. Enlightenment. It also represents a new beginning. More importantly, it’s symbolic of the victory of good over evil, as depicted in the battle between a triumphant Lord Rama and a vanquished demon King Ravana in Ramayana.
2 A clean house for good luck
A clean house, especially one beautified with bright lights, marks the beginning of a fresh start. This practice falls in line with the belief that a spruced up residence will have the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi, who brings wealth and fortune.
3 Goodies to the fore
Sweets offered during this time hold significant meaning. The laddu, for example, is associated with Lord Ganesha who holds the sweet in his trunk. Eating this sweet symbolises the ushering of prosperity. It is also a representation of a new moon, and thus a new beginning. The exchange and serving of these festive goodies not only fosters goodwill but also brings about happiness.
4 Festive new clothes
Apart from affording the wearer a moral uplift, wearing new clothes is believed to bring good fortune and prosperity. The rule of thumb is to wear bright colours. Of late, sarees, Punjabi suits and lenghas have taken to sporting lots of bling, fitting further into the festive theme. One reminder – avoid black and dark blue as they are considered inauspicious colours.
5 Back to the scriptures
The basic teachings of Hinduism lie in the scriptures. Only with knowledge can one gain deeper understanding. Together with the reading of scriptures is the encouragement to visit temples as it brings about goodness in the heart.
6 Morning oil bath
Starting the Deepavali celebrations with an oil bath is believed to be equivalent to having a dip in the Ganges. It is customary for family elders to bless their children by applying gingelly oil on their heads before the bath.
7 Staying pure in mind and body
The Hindu religion advises one to refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking and use of any substance and indulging in activities that are toxic to the body and mind. Gambling is also discouraged as it brings about cheating and untruthfulness.
Eternity, bliss and knowledge are most important in Hinduism. The act of worship brings about awareness of these god-like qualities and reminds devotees not to be consumed by hate, greed and ego.
9 A time for giving
Deepavali is seen as a special time for spiritual advancement. It is believed that individuals who give food to the poor or care for the less fortunate will be doubly blessed.
10 Vegetarian diet
During Deepavali, it is good to abstain from meat. Adopting a vegetarian diet is believed to bring about mercy in the heart. There is strong belief that happiness is directly correlated with respect and preservation of life.