ऒम् असतोमा सद्गमय
तमसोमा ज्योतिर्गमय
म्रुत्यॊर्मा अम्रुतम् गमय
ऒम् शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः

Oh Almighty! Lead us from the unreal to the real (truth)

From darkness to light!

From death to immortality!

Oh Almighty! May there be Peace! Peace! Peace!

A prayer that we sing in praise of the Lord asking him to lead us from darkness to light!

Deepavali, literally meaning Avali [array] of Deepa [lights] signifies this journey from darkness to light, the triumph of  virtues over vices!  Celebrated in honour of return of Lord Sri Rama from exile after 14 long years, it highlights the fall of not only wicked men in the world but also the defeat of evil forces which we battle within ourselves! The success of the good in each one of us over the vices we have!  It signifies the rebirth of a better person by giving up darkness within us.

@Home, we celebrate Diwali for 3 days starting from Naraka Chaturdasi on the first day followed by Lakshmi Puja on the Amavasya day. The last day is known as Balipadyami.

On the eve of Naraka Chaturdasi, a ritual known as Neeru habba is followed. Its one where the objects used for storing water like the boilers, storage tanks etc.. were cleaned and worshipped and water stored for the oil bath to be taken next day! Since running water was not available with ease and it had to be carried from nearby ponds and lakes, storage was very important. With the easy availability of running water now, this ritual is not being followed as it used to be in olden days but still holds the same importance it used to.I just love this ritual for the sweet message it conveys that each and every thing which we use, small or big, is equally important in life and the very though of offering worship to them is beautiful!

Naraka Chaturdasi commemorates the conquest of Narakasura, a powerful demon who had imprisoned tens of thousands of inhabitants by Lord Krishna. Again signifying that truth always wins!

Lakshmi Puja is a grand affair with celebrations @ home and shops with great joy and gusto. We worship a photo/idol of Goddess Lakshmi, jewels, cash all arranged and decorated and footprints of the Goddess are drawn from outside the house till the mandap where the Puja is performed indicating that Lakshmi has entered our house and is going to be seated there! Women are invited for haldi-kumkum following the puja and sweets are distributed.

Bali Padyami is a the most important day for us here and commemorates the victory of  Lord Vishnu in his dwarf incarnation Vamana defeating Bali, and pushing him to the nether world.

According to Hindu mythology, Bali, a demon king was well known for his bravery, uprightness and dedication to god Vishnu. Bali was also considered invincible since he was a great devotee of Vishnu. The gods, upset by the harassment meted out to them by the asuras, and jealous of the popularity of Bali asked approached Lord Vishnu for help.

Vishnu in the avatar of  Vamana, approached Bali seeking reverence and alms. Aware of the generous nature of Bali, he sought a gift of three paces of land from the king. Bali readily agreed. Vamana now assumed his universal form and placed his first step forward, which occupied the entire universal space. With his second step he occupied the earth, except the space where Bali was standing. Since there was no other space available to put Vamana’s third step, Bali readily offered his own head for Vamana to put his third step, fully realising that the person who was asking for such gift was none other than Vishnu himself, hence being pushed to Patala Loka.

But, pleased with the generosity of Bali, Vishnu grants him a boon that he could return to earth for one day in a year to be with his people and light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance and spread the radiance of love and wisdom. It is this day that is celebrated as Bali Padyami.

We make a fort for King Bali using cow-dung and marigold flowers, light lamps and perform the puja. Keralites celebrate the same during Onam is what  I got to know during this Onam from Deepu n Smithu. Aww … the beauty of Unity in Diversity 🙂 Am waiting to celebrate this Puja tomorrow 🙂

ETA: Balipadyami pics

A few pics from the celebrations @ home:

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Lakshmi Puja in the evening
Lakshmi Puja in the evening
Lakshmi Puja again
Lakshmi Puja again

Shubh Deepavali to all of you dear friends! May you and your family enjoy a happy, fun-filled, safe and enlightening Deepavali. God bless!

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