Archive for the ‘Deepavali’ Category

According to Ayur Veda (a system of Hindu traditional medicine of Vedic tradition) every person, regardless of age and gender, viz., old, young, pregnant and sickly persons, should take regular oil bath, i.e., every week. “Oil Bath” is known in Sanskrit as “Thaila Snanam“. The Hindu scriptures recommend that one should take oil bath on lunar days, viz., Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And, should strictly steer clear of solar days, viz., Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.

The scriptures say that Saturdays and Fridays are particularly beneficial for males and females respectively. In addition, the following days are forbidden too: New Moon, Full Moon and one’s Nakshatra (=star).

When males take oil bath, i.e., as they are applying oil on their heads and bodies, they are to recite the following mantra, invoking the blessings of seven “chiranjeevis” (= known for their longevity and perfect health): Ashwathama, Bali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibheeshana, Krupa and Parashurama:

Ashwthamo Balir Vyaso Hanumanshcha VibhishaNah,
Krupah Parashuramashcha,Saptaite Chiranjivinaah.

Females are to chant the following mantras:

Ahalya Draupadi Sita Tara Mandodari tatha
Panchakanyaah smarennityam mahaapataka naashanam.

The five characters in the mantra are Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodari, the “Pancha kanyas”, whose blessings will destroy all sins.

Healthful Effects
By nature, thaila snanam (=oil bath) will make one sleepy. For this reason, therefore, astrological texts and the scriptures have prescribed only some days for oil bath. That is to say, taking this bath on these specified days will mitigate this soporific effect. But, first of all, if oil bath should be healthful and beneficial, why does it make one somnolent and drowsy?

Ayur Veda says that the vital energies in our body, vatha, kapah, pitha, must be balanced. When one takes oil bath, the balance of these is upset in the body: one feels sleepy. Nonetheless, as it has been mentioned earlier, by taking the bath only on specified days, this natural imbalance is addressed.

Auspicious Day
Other than the days mentioned in paragraph one, “Chathurthasi” is another day that is ideal for oil bath for both genders. So is Friday afternoon. Saturn, who is in Sanskrit as “ayush kaarakan“, rules  Chathurthasi (=rikhtha thithi) and Saturday. Indira rules Friday, which the scriptures have declared, benefits everyone.

Note: Oil bath on Saturdays can help appease Saniswaran, and reduce His bad effects during His 7 1/2 testing period.

According to Bharadvaja, who is one of the seven great rishies in this manvantra, oil bath should be taken on the tithis and the days that have prescribed.

Oil Bath on Deepavali
In the dark fortnight of Ashwina month, on the fourteenth day, early in the morning, one should take oil bath, i.e., applied oil on the body and cleanse it with lukewarm water. If ashwaja krishna chadurthasi [Narakachaturthi day] falls on a Sunday, however, when the star Swathi is ruling, scented oil bath should be taken.

On Deepavali day, Goddess Lakshmi lives in oil, and Mother Ganga lives in warm water. This bath removes bad luck. After the bath, one ought to wear new clothes and jewellery.

Note: Generally, the scriptures forbid taking oil bath on holy days. However, Deepavali is an exception. This exception has been provided for by Sri Krishna who granted Nakarasura’s boon that everyone, in remembrance of his death, should take an oil bath on Deepavali.

How to Take an Oil Bath?
1. Apply oil (=coconut or sesame oil) from head to toe and massage it. Apply it on the head first in small quantity. Rub it in gently. Massage the head with more oil.
2. Apply oil on the face, eyes, nasal passage, every hairy part, ears, armpits, navel, groin, anus.
3. Apply oil on other parts of your body. Do not squeeze excess oil from the head to apply on the body.
4. Leave it for 30 – 45 minutes.
5. Then wash the oil off with lukewarm water—start with the head bath with “Shiyaakai”.
6. When is the best time to take oil bath ?
6. Within three hours from Sun rise is most suitable time to take oil bath
Note: The oil could also be in the following composition: 50% of coconut oil + 40% sesame oil + 10% mustard oil.

Other Health Benefits of Oil Bath
1. It clears oily substances from the skin of total body and facilitate the same to transfer heat from its inside to outside. This will enhance your kavasam / auric field and strengthen your spirit’s anatomy to attract prosperity and spiritual energy.
2. It treats diseases like migraine, depression, stomach disorder, diabetic, sexual disorder, jaundice, cancer and other viral diseases.
3. It helps in getting deep sleep, and getting concentration in our daily activities.
4. It improves the complexion and the skin texture.
5. It improves the health of hair.
6. Highly beneficial for the eyes since it improves vision and removes dusty particles.
7. It is good for the nerves
8. Prevents dry skin build-up on elbows, knees, feet and hands.
9. It calms strained muscles, and it is even believed to improve the amount of a nursing mother’s breast milk.
10. Reduces mental and physical stress.
11. According to some Siddha Texts, oil bath enhances our kavasam (=auric shield). It, as a result, attracts positive people and energies towards oneself, and at the same time, repels negative people and energies.

Sources: Ayurveda texts, trusted internet sites on ayurveda and Ayurveda forums, Swami Haridoss’s speech on Narakasura, Hindu Matham Pathil-alikarathu Vols. 1 and 2.


We have various occasions throughout the year to remind us of the threefold duty. They are called Vratas, some of which are annual, some monthly and some daily. The Deepavali Vrata is observed every year on the fourteenth day (Chaturdasi) of the dark-fortnight in the month of Kartika (October-November).

People take a holy oil bath, put on new clothes, eat delicious dishes. Crackers are burst and lines of light are lit everywhere. There is an atmosphere of gaiety and sanctity. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped and Divine grace is invoked. Though there are many stories associated with this celebration of Deepavali, the prominent one is the killing of the demon Narakasura by Lord Sri Krishna, while returning to Dwaraka from Indraloka, from where he brought the Parijata plant, to fulfil the wishes of Satyabhama, his consort.

The Deepavali festival is regarded as an occasion particularly associated with an ancient event of Sri Krishna overcoming the demoniacal force known as Narakasura, recorded in the Epics and Puranas. After the great victory over Narakasura in a battle, which appears to have lasted for long, long days, Sri Krishna with his consort Satyabhama returned to his abode in Dwaraka. The residents of Dwaraka were very anxious about the delay caused in Sri Krishna’s returning and it is said that they were worshipping Bhagavati Lakshmi for the prosperity and welfare of everyone and the quick returning of Bhagavan Sri Krishna and Satyabhama.

And, after Sri Krishna returned, the story goes that he took a bath after applying oil over his body, to cleanse himself subsequent to the very hectic work he had to do in the war that ensued earlier. This oil-bath connected with Sri Krishna’s ritual is also one of the reasons for people necessarily remembering to take an oil-bath on the day known as Naraka Chaturdasi, prior to the Amavasya, when Lakshmi Puja is conducted.

Everyone in India remembers to take an oil-bath on Naraka Chaturdasi in memory of, in honour of, Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s doing that after the demise of Narakasura. Having taken the bath, they all joined together in great delight in the grand worship of Maha-Lakshmi for general prosperity of everyone in Dwaraka. This is the traditional background, as is told to us, of the rites and the worships connected with Naraka Chaturdasi and Deepavali Amavasya.

There is a third aspect of it which is called Bali Padya, the day following Amavasya. It does not look that Bali Padya festival is directly connected with Lakshmi Puja or Naraka Chaturdasi. But it has another background altogether, namely, the blessing Narayana, in His incarnation as Vamana, bestowed upon the demon-king Bali Chakravarti, whom He subdued when He took a Cosmic Form in the Yajnasala of Bali, the details of which we can read in the Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana.

Bali Chakravarti was himself a great devotee, an ideal king and ruler, and having submitted himself to being thrown into the nether regions by the pressure of the foot of Narayana in the Cosmic Form, it appears he begged of Him to have some occasion to come up to the surface of the earth and then be recognised as a devotee of Bhagavan Narayana Himself. This recognition, this hallowed memory of Bali Chakravarti, is celebrated on the first day of the bright fortnight following the Amavasya. Bali Puja, Bali Padya are some of the terms used to designate this occasion, the day next to Amavasya.

So, the sum and substance of the message connected with Deepavali is that it is a three day festival, beginning with Naraka Chaturdasi, a day prior to Amavasya; then the main Lakshmi worship day, which is Amavasya itself; and the third day which is Bali Padya connected with the honour bestowed upon Bali Chakravarti as a devotee of Bhagavan Narayana. It is also an occasion for spiritual exhilaration, a lighting up of all darkness, socially as well as personally, outwardly and inwardly, for the purpose of allowing an entry of the Supreme Light of God into the hearts of all people.

Deepavali means the line of lights. Deepa is light; and Avali means line. So, Deepavali or the festival of the line of lights is the celebration of the rise of Knowledge. It is also the celebration of the victory of the Sattvic or divine elements in us over the Rajasic and Tamasic or baser elements which are the real Asuras, the Rakshasas, Narakasura and others. The whole world is within us. The whole cosmos can be found in a microscopic form in our own body. Rama-Ravana-Yuddha and Tarakasura-Vadha, and all such Epic wars,–everything is going on inside us.

This Deepavali is thus also a psychological context, wherein we contemplate in our own selves the holy occasion of self-mastery, self-subjugation and self-abnegation leading to the rise of all spiritual virtues which are regarded as lustre or radiance emanating from Self-Knowledge. Bhagavati Mahalakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity, does not merely mean the Goddess of wealth in a material sense. Lakshmi does not mean only gold and silver.  

Lakshmi means prosperity in general, positive growth in the right direction, a rise into the higher stages of evolution. This is the advent of Lakshmi. Progress and prosperity are Lakshmi. In the Vishnu Purana we are told if Narayana is like the sun, Lakshmi is like the radiance of the sun. They are inseparable. Wherever Narayana is, there is Lakshmi.

Wherever is divinity, there is prosperity. So on this day of Dipavali we worship the Supreme God who is the source of all conceivable virtues, goodness and prosperity, which is symbolised in illumination, lighting and worship in the form of Arati and gay joyous attitude and feeling in every respect. So, in short, this is a day of rejoicing over the victory of Sattva over the lower Gunas, the victory of God Himself over the binding fetters of the soul.

This is an excerpt from a Deepavali message that Swamiji maharaj gave on the 25th of October, 1973. [] 

DEEPAVALI or Diwali means “a row of lights”. It falls on the last two days of the dark half of Kartik (October-November). For some it is a three-day festival. It commences with the Dhan-Teras, on the 13th day of the dark half of Kartik, followed the next day by the Narak Chaudas, the 14th day, and by Deepavali proper on the 15th day.

There are various alleged origins attributed to this festival. Some hold that they celebrate the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. In Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali. It also commemorates that blessed day on which the triumphant Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. On this day also Sri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura.

In South India people take an oil bath in the morning and wear new clothes. They partake of sweetmeats. They light fireworks which are regarded as the effigies of Narakasura who was killed on this day. They greet one another, asking, “Have you had your Ganges bath?” which actually refers to the oil bath that morning as it is regarded as purifying as a bath in the holy Ganges.

Everyone forgets and forgives the wrongs done by others. There is an air of freedom, festivity and friendliness everywhere. This festival brings about unity. It instils charity in the hearts of people. Everyone buys new clothes for the family. Employers, too, purchase new clothes for their employees.

Waking up during the Brahmamuhurta (at 4a.m.) is a great blessing from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work and spiritual advancement. It is on Deepavali that everyone wakes up early in the morning. The sages who instituted this custom must have cherished the hope that their descendents would realise its benefits and make it a regular habit in their lives.

In a happy mood of great rejoicing village folk move about freely, mixing with one another without any reserve, all enmity being forgotten. People embrace one another with love. Deepavali is a great unifying force. Those with keen inner spiritual ears will clearly hear the voice of the sages, “O Children of God! unite, and love all”. The vibrations produced by the greetings of love which fill the atmosphere are powerful enough to bring about a change of heart in every man and woman in the world. Alas! That heart has considerably hardened, and only a continuous celebration of Deepavali in our homes can rekindle in us the urgent need of turning away from the ruinous path of hatred.

On this day Hindu merchants in North India open their new account books and pray for success and prosperity during the coming year. The homes are cleaned and decorated by day and illuminated by night with earthern oil-lamps. The best and finest illuminations are to be seen in Bombay and Amritsar. The famous Golden Temple at Amritsar is lit in the evening with thousands of lamps placed all over the steps of the big tank. Vaishnavites celebrate the Govardhan Puja and feed the poor on a large scale.

O Ram! The light of lights, the self-luminous inner light of the Self is ever shining steadily in the chamber of your heart. Sit quietly. Close your eyes. Withdraw the senses. Fix the mind on this supreme light and enjoy the real Deepavali, by attaining illumination of the soul.

He who Himself sees all but whom no one beholds, who illumines the intellect, the sun, the moon and the stars and the whole universe but whom they cannot illumine, He indeed is Brahman, He is the inner Self. Celebrate the real Deepavali by living in Brahman, and enjoy the eternal bliss of the soul.

The sun does not shine there, nor do the moon and the stars, nor do lightnings shine and much less fire. All the lights of the world cannot be compared even to a ray of the inner light of the Self. Merge yourself in this light of lights and enjoy the supreme Deepavali.

Many Deepavali festivals have come and gone. Yet the hearts of the vast majority are as dark as the night of the new moon. The house is lit with lamps, but the heart is full of the darkness of ignorance. O man! wake up from the slumber of ignorance. Realise the constant and eternal light of the Soul which neither rises nor sets, through meditation and deep enquiry.

May you all attain full inner illumination! May the supreme light of lights enlighten your understanding! May you all attain the inexhaustible spiritual wealth of the Self! May you all prosper gloriously on the material as well as spiritual planes!

(pgs. 4-8, Hindu Fasts and Festivals)

You are not wrong. The word “history” has been spelt with “ies”: in the plural, that is. When “Deepavali” is mentioned, the first personality who comes to our minds is “Narakasuran” (that if you are a Tamil), and it will be Lord Rama if you are a North Indian.

Actually, there are many histories of Deepavali. If it leads you to wonder how can one event could have several beginnings, you need just to read on to discover how many are it came to be so: every one of the touted geneses is full of spiritual import and symbolism. Let’s now look at the popular puranic stories connected with the Festival of Lights.

Lord Rama and Deepavali
In North India, the Hindus celebrate Deepavali (which they call Diwali or Diwaali) to commemorate the return of Lord Sri Ramachandra after His 14 years of Vanvasa (=banishment): it is on this day that he returned to country. Tradition has it that, His overjoyed citizens celebrated His return by lighting rows and rows of lamps on the path that He was to tread.

Lord Krishna and Deepavali
In the South, on the other hand, Deepavali is the day Narakasura fell: after his mother, Srimati Satyabhama, vanquished him in a battle between him and her on the 14th day (Chathuthi Thithi), as he lay on his death bed, he asked Sri Krishna for a boon, i.e., to celebrate his death day as a day of victory for Dharma. This day became Deepavali. This is the puranic story that the peoples in Singapore, Malaysia, South India and Sri Lanka often cite for their reasons to celebrate the festival.

Hare Krsnas and Deepavali (?)
The Vaishnavites, including the hare Krsnas, celebrate the day after Deepavali as Govardhan Puja. It is the day, the scriptures say, Sri Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. According to this tale, Sri Krishna dissuaded the people of his land from doing the annual offering to Lord Indra. When the villagers went by His advice, Indra became very angry and punished them by causing floods in their village. Sri Krishna finally defeated him. (The point to note is that the Hare Krsnas or their fellow Vaishnavites do not consider this day as Deepavali, and neither do they regard Deepavali as Vaishnava festival.)

Mahavira and Deepavali
Deepavali has a very significant place even in the history of the Jains. According to their scriptures, it is on this very day that Mahavira, their founder archarya, attained nirvana (=enlightenment). Their scriptures say that the gods illuminated a city by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time, their scripture say the people of Bharat celebrate the famous festival of lights to worship the Mahavira on the occasion of his nirvana. Incidentally, on the same day, many years later, Mahavira’s principal disciple came by the Supreme Knowledge.

Guru Har Gobind and Deepavali
Deepavali is very important to the Sikhs. It is on Deepavali that their 6th Guru and 52 others were released from Mougul Emperor’s prison. The Sikhs celebrated the return of their Guru by lighting the Golden Temple, and this tradition continues today.

Bhrungi Rishi and Deepavali
According to the Saivites, Kedara Gowri Vrata (in short, “Gowri/Gauri Vrata”) is called Deepavali. Swami Kripananda Variyaar has mentioned this in one of his books. One of the puranic stories says that the vrata started because one “Bhrungi Rishi”. (In Sanskrit, Bhrunga refers to “bee”).

Bhrungi was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He, however, had one great defect despite all his devotion: he never wanted to pray to Devi; hence, he chose to completely ignore Her! He ignored her even when he had to circumambulate the Lord: he would ignore the Divine Mother.

The Lord wanted to rid him of this ego. Hence, Lord Shiva and and Mother Parvathy merged into one and appeared as Ardhanareeshwara before the Saint.The saint, in his insistence in seeing the Lord different from Mother, assumed the form of a Bee, and pierced the body of Ardhanareeshwara, and tried circumambulating  Shiva only.

Divine mother withdrew her shakthi from the bee-form “Bhrungi”. The rishi had to re-assume his usual human form: he, however, could not stand on his legs— his intense and arduous tapas did not help him. Lord Shiva, in His lila, gave the rishi a staff to support himself!

Lord Shiva, out of karuna, pacified Mother Shakthi, and made the Rishi realise his folly. Thus, the day when the rishi realised the oneness of Shiva-shakthi, it was Deepavali: he did Kedara-gowri Vratha Himself.

Kurma Avatar and Deepavali
Some people who do a narrow reading of Kurma Avatar lila (which is found in not one but in a number of upa-Puranas) ascribe the genesis of Deepavali to the day of this avatar. There is no explicit mention of the connection between the incarnation and the festival in the puranas but an incident of the Lord’s contact with oil in a field that grew “Eal” had been interpreted by some pundits as the beginning of the Tamilians’ oil bath on Narakachathuthi or Deepavali.

If you were to look at the above histories, you will notice that in most cases (except one: Narakasura’s death),  it is not that Deepavali started from the eventful day or auspicious incident, rather an eventful or auspicious incident happened on the day of Deepavali. It is such a wonderfully spiritual day that the Lord or great personalities of the Puranic age had chosen that particular day for an event to take place.

Swami Haridoss says that Deepavali is so auspicious that even Sanyasis, who had renounced every want and desire, should honour the day with vasthiram offering.