In India, almost every household has a custom of lighting a deepam or diya twice a day — in the morning and evening. This is a part of prayer. All ceremonies, daily worship rituals, auspicious functions, religious occasions as well as new ventures start with lightning of the lamp. Diya is essential in Hinduism because it signifies purity, goodness, good luck and power. The presence of light means the non-existence of darkness and evil forces.
Since, Diwali is celebrated on the new moon day when there is supreme darkness everywhere; people light millions of lamps to get rid of the darkness. It is believed that evil spirits and forces gain power and become active when there is no light. So diyas are lit in every corner of the house to weaken those evil forces.
There is a deeper significance to the diya. The oil in the diya symbolises the dirt in the human mind — such as greed, jealousy, hatred, lust etc — which human beings tend to nurture. The cotton in the diya is symbolic of the atma or the self or the soul. The diya presents light when the oil is burnt by the wick. Hence, lighting of the diyas signifies that one needs to get rid of the selfish and materialistic thoughts. This frees one from all forms of sadness, guiding the path to enlightenment and to connect with the Supreme Being.
Hindu philosophy or belief further states that after the realisation of Atma, one must learn to love and serve others unconditionally, without any expectations of rewards in return. Such selfless service would bring contentment, aanand or happiness in our lives. The external materialistic rewards are only illusions. Hence, as a part of purification on Diwali, one must endeavour to make one’s atma purer. Instead of trying and expecting to change the world outside, change inside.
Core essence of Diwali:
There is a shloka in Sanskrit: ‘Tamso-ma-jyotir-gamaya’ which signifies the journey from darkness to light. While the Rigvedic rishi’s shloka linguistically means moving from darkness to light, it is a mantra dedicated to the goddess Maha Lakshmi.
Purchase of diyas:
As per Indian tradition, it is recommended that one should purchase diyas on Ashwin Purnima, which is a full moon day, 15 days prior to Diwali. Then the diyas are supposed to be soaked in water till they are saturated and then they are ready for the Diwali puja.
Lighting candles or diyas help us move from darkness to light. They invoke goddesses or angels to bless us with divine wisdom which helps us move towards unconditional love.
This Diwali let’s bring the light of unconditional love in our hearts and drive out all materialistic thoughts from our lives. While cleaning our homes, let’s purify our souls. As we throw unwanted stuff outside and unclutter our home, let’s throw our ego, jealousy, anger and all the lower energies out of our life as well.
The writer is an alternative medicine practitioner...