Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Light at Deepavali

Light primarily signifies knowledge. All our activities should be governed by the light of knowledge, especially the knowledge of dharma. By this knowledge, ignorance or darkness is dispelled. We bow to knowledge which is the greatest wealth in our lives. Knowledge also backs our good as well as bad actions. So, the lamp which is kept lit for all auspicious occasions, is a witness to our thoughts and actions.

Learned people say that by seeing brightly lit lamps, insects, birds, reptiles, trees and plants, all living things residing in water and light can be permanently liberated from bondages due to that particular janma.

The flame is fed on the oil of clear devotion and enlivened by the breeze of intense love of contemplation on the Lord. The wick is the intellect strengthened by impressions of strivings to cultivate the right values. This is the spiritual significance of a deepam compared to an electric light which can only remove darkness. Like the flame burning upwards, our knowledge must take us towards higher ideals.

Lighting Lamps

To those interested in the more esoteric aspects of the lighting of lamps (which is particularly appropriate during this Deepavali Festival) below are some beliefs about lamp lighting.

1. Using sesame oil in lamps destroys evil and castor oil brings joy to relatives. A mixture of 5 oils available at the market, is very beneficial to use in lamps. Coconut oil for Lord Ganesha, Sesame oil for Lord Narayana and ghee for the Devi.

2. Cotton is the best wick as it heralds prosperity. And a wick made of yellow cloth gives Blessing from the Goddess.

3. Putting the lamp in the east removes sorrow, and in the west to remove debt and enemies.

4. The number of wicks in a lamp have different significance. Two wicks gives family happiness, three wicks denotes the birth of a child, four wicks for wealth, and five wicks for welfare, health and prosperity.

5. Lamps should always be put out be pressing with a flower or sprinkling with kumkum.

6. Keep a cloth near lamp to rub excess oil from hands, excess oil should not be rubbed on hair or on own dress.

Kuthu Vilakku

The five petals of the Kuthu Vilakku are also said to denote the five main elements are supposed to represent the five elements of Nature — earth, water, fire, air and sky or space. The five nozzles are also said to denote the five main elements needed for a successful life — health, wealth, learning, courage and longevity.

The three Gods Bramha, Vishnu and Shiva are believed to be present in the Vilakku. At the base part is Bramha,the middle part Vishnu and the broad part on top is Shiva.The Glow of the Vilakku is represented as Goddess Lakshmi, the Light by Goddess Saraswati and the Heat by Goddess Parvati.

The five wicks in the Kuthu Vilakku represents our five senses and also the Panchaboothangal: 5 elements of the World; Earth, Water, Air, Sky and FireTraditionally.

Laksmi at Deepavali

There are two legends that associate the worship of Lakshmi on this day. According to the first legend, on this day, Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagar, the Ocean of Milk, during the great churning of the oceans, Samudra manthan. The second legend (more popular in western India) relates to the Vamana Avatar of the big three Vishnu, the incarnation he assumed to kill the demon King Bali. On this day, Vishnu came back to his abode the Vaikuntha; so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.

On the day of Lakshmi Puja during Deepavali, "Lakshmi-panchayatan" enters the Universe. This group of five elements, “panchayatan” are comprised of Vishnu, Indra, Kubera, Gajendra and Lakshmi. The tasks of these elements are:

Lakshmi: Shakti which provides energy to all activities
Vishnu: Happiness (happiness and satisfaction:
Kubera: Wealth (generosity; one who shares wealth)
Indra: Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
Gajendra: Carries the wealth

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