The significance of Diwali

The Holy Cow

The Holy Cow

Diwali means celebrating Deepotsava. This is when winter starts setting in and nights kick in earlier. During this period, we light oil lamps so that darkness is dispelled.
Also, there are a lot of insects around this time — during the end of the rainy season and the onset of winter — which get attracted to the flames of the deepas and are consumed by its flames. This is a natural way of controlling such insects.
During this period, go-pooja or worship of the holy cow, is also important, it is a “must and should”, according to Shringeri Sudhakar Bhat. “We consider the cow as God and it our duty to protect her. We worship her as “Surabhi Vaishnavi Mata”. The Kamadhenu has given all our Gods a place to reside in her body.
According to our Puranas, all the three crore Hindu Gods are given positions in Kamadhenu’s body, including in gomutra, horns, ears, milk, and so on. After all these places were distributed, arrived Lord Shri Lakshmi. Kamadhenu was in a dilemma, but offered Her a place in gomaya (cowdung), which Shri Lakshmi graciously accepted.
“It is for this reason that we are supposed to spread cowdung and gomutra on the floors of our house. Thus, Shri Lakshmi resides in all four corners of our house or our house is filled by Shri Lakshmi,” says Sudhakar Bhat.
“It is strange that now we are afraid of even touching the pavitra gomaya or cowdung,” he adds, tongue-in-cheek.
During Diwali, when we are filling a pot of water from the well, we also bring cowdung, offer it garika or a particular type of grass, apply haldi kumkum (turmeric and vermillion) and remember Lord Ganapati. However, we do not offer coconut and banana. We call it Peda-Ganapati. This is then set aflame so that its smoke purifies the house and incidentally also gets rid of insects like mosquitoes! If we do it every evening, it is all the more helpful to lead a healthy life. Try it and see the improvement in every one’s health.
During this period, Lakshmi Pooja is an important ritual. This is done only at night, not at any other time. Why? Because Lakshmi supposed comes in the night. “Thus we should go towards light.” (Asatoma Sadgamaya, Tamsoma Jyoritgamaya). The principle is where a lot of money comes, automatically darkness follows. Also, Lakshmi travels on an owl, which cannot see at night. So when a lot of wealth is made, people are blinded by material things and cannot see anything related to spiritual knowledge. That’s why we decorate and put up a lot of lamps to light up the place, hence the festival is known as Deepavali, when darkness or ignorance is dispelled.
We pray to Lord Lakshmi thus: “Mother, you should come to my house not as darkness, come as deepak jyoti. You should take me away from whatever sins I have committed, away from the darkness of ignorance, and towards light.”
During Deepavali, another important ritual is the taking of oil bath. This is known as thailaabhyangasnanam. Water itself is God, which occurs because of God’s grace. The surroundings near our well should be cleaned. Then the well should be decorated after applying a coat of fresh lime paint.
Well water should be drawn regularly, because only if done so then it remains clean and the spring in the well gets refreshed.
The water has to be drawn by the gruhini (housewife) herself. The pulley should be oiled before that. This has significance to our lives. Just as the wheel of the pulley turns when the vessel is lowered, filled with water and pulled back, thus the life cycle goes on. It is to be remembered that the rope should be strong.
When the rope is strung across the neck of the vessel, it indicates that brotherhood is struck. The rope is made up of many tiny strings, which indicates the gruhini’s control/management of our lives.
The gruhini’s love and affection is charged by the well water, she should then put the water into the bhana (vessel used to heating the water).
It is imperative that ghruhini — wife or mother — bathe the man after applying oil, reflecting the relationship of love and affection.

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