sâmbătă, 1 noiembrie 2008

Divali - Sărbătoarea Luminilor

Pe 28 Octombrie s-a sarbatorit Divali - Sarbatoarea Luminilor, poate cea mai importantă sărbătoare în tradiţia hindusă, comparabilă (ca importanţă) cu Paştele creştin!

In materialul de mai jos este un colaj de texte in limba engleză, despre semnificaţiile acestei sărbători.

Happy Diwali! Happy New Year!

May the light of love and devotion shine brightly in your hearts
May the light of understanding shine in your minds,
May the light of harmony glow in your home
May the light of service shine forth ceaselessly from your hands.
May your presence light the lamps of love wherever you go.
May your smile, your words and your actions be as sweet
as the sweets of this festive season.
May Maha Laxmi bring you the true wealth of peace, health, happiness, and 

The time of Diwali is one of the most festive and beautiful times of

the year. Diwali literally means a "Row of Lights." It is a time
filled with light and love; a time when Indians all over the world
rejoice. Diwali is celebrated on the thirteenth/fourteenth day in the
dark half of Kartik (October - November); it is also known as Krishna
Chaturdashi. It is the darkest night of the darkest period, yet it is
a celebration of light! Diwali is heralded as the triumph of good over

The meanings of Diwali, its symbols and rituals, and the reasons for
celebration are innumerable. Diwali celebrates Lord Rama's glorious
and long-awaited return to his Kingdom of Ayodhya after his fourteen
long years of exile in the forests. It commemorates Lord Krishna's
victory over the demon Narakaasura who had kidnapped and terrorized
the gopis of Vrindavan. When the evil Naraka was finally killed by
Bhagwan Krishna and Satyabhaama, he begged pitifully for mercy; thus,
upon his entreaties, it was declared that this day of his death would
be celebrated with great joy and festivity. It is also celebrated as
the day Bhagwan Vishnu married Maha Lakshmi.

Diwali is also associated with the story of the fall of Bali - a
demon king who was conquered by Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu appeared to
the demon king Bali in the form of a dwarf and requested only three
steps of land. The evil and egotistic Bali granted the drawf's meager
request of only three feet. Suddenly, Lord Vishnu took on His grand
size and placed one foot on the Earth, another on the Heavens and His
third on the head of the evil Bali.

In general, Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil, of
righteousness over treachery, of truth over falsehood, and of light
over darkness.

Additionally, Diwali is the holy time in which we offer our prayers to
Maha Lakshmi and we worship Her with piety and devotion. Maha Lakshmi
is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, bestowing these abundantly
upon her devotees.

Diwali is a holiday of joy; it is the time when we gather with loved
ones, celebrating our family, our friends and the prosperity God has
bestowed upon us.

However it is also a holiday that is widely misunderstood and
misrepresented, especially in the West. I have heard that in the West
Diwali is referred to as "The Indians' Christmas" and that it is
celebrated with frivolity and decadence. Let us talk about what
Diwali really means, about why we celebrate it and about why we
worship Goddess Lakshmi on this day.

Celebration of Light

There are three main aspects of this holiday called Diwali. The first
is the celebration of light. We line our homes and streets with
lanterns; we explode fireworks; children play with sparklers.

However, Diwali is not a festival of light in order that we may burn
candles, fireworks and sparklers. Sure, these are wonderful ways of
expressing our gaiety. But, they are not the only or true meaning of
"light." Diwali is a festival of the light which dispels the darkness
of our ignorance; it is a festival of the light which shows us the way
on our journey through life. The purpose is not to glorify the light
of the candle, or the light of the firecracker. The purpose is to
glorify the light of God. It is He who bestows the real light, the
everlasting light upon the darkness of this mundane world. A candle
burns out. A firework is a momentary visual experience. But, the
candle of a still mind and the fireworks of a heart filled with bhakti
are divine and eternal; these are what we should be celebrating.

We decorate our homes with lanterns; but why? What is the symbolism
behind that? Those lanterns signify God's light, penetrating through
the ignorance and sin of our daily lives. They signify the divine
light, shining its way through this mundane world. A home bathed in
light is a home in which anger, pain, and ignorance are being
dispelled; it is a home that is calling to God. However, too many
people turn this into a domestic beauty contest, spending days and a
great deal of money to purchase the newest dias, the most beautiful
candles. "We had 75 candles burning last night," we gloat. This is
only the light of glamour. It is not the light of God, and thus the
true meaning of the holiday is lost

The light of Diwali should be within us. It should symbolize the
personal relationship between God and our families. It should not be
so we attract attention from passing cars, or so we are the envy of
the neighborhood. Let the light penetrate inward, for only there will
it have lasting benefit. One piece of cotton soaked in ghee, lit with
a pure heart, a conscious mind and an earnest desire to be free from
ignorance is far "brighter" than 100 fashion deepaks, lit in simple
unconscious revelry.

A Fresh Start

Diwali also marks the new year. For some, the day of Diwali itself is
the first day of the new year, and for others the new year's day is
the day following Diwali. But, for all this season is one of heralding
in the New Year.

In the joyous mood of this season, we clean our homes, our offices,
our rooms, letting the light of Diwali enter all the corners of our
lives. We begin new checkbooks, diaries and calendars. It is a day of
"starting fresh."

On this day we clean every room of the house; we dust every corner of
the garage, we sweep behind bookshelves, vacuum under beds and empty
out cabinets. But, what about our hearts? When was the last time we
swept out our hearts? When did we last empty them of all the dirt and
garbage that has accumulated throughout our lives?

That is the real cleaning we must do. That is the real meaning of
"starting fresh." We must clean out our hearts, ridding them of
darkness and bitterness; we must make them clean and sparkling places
for God to live. We must be as thorough with ourselves as we are with
our homes. Are there any dark corners in our hearts we have avoided
for so long? Are we simply "sweeping all the dirt under the rug?" God
sees all and knows all. He knows what is behind every wall of our
hearts, what is swept into every corner, and what is hidden under
every rug. Let us truly clean out our hearts; let us rid ourselves of
the grudges, pain, and anger that clutter our ability to love freely.
Let us empty out every nook and cranny, so that His divine light can
shine throughout.

Additionally, on Diwali, we begin a new checkbook; we put last year's
accounts to rest. But, what about our own balance sheets? When was the
last time we assessed our minuses and plusses, our strengths and our
weaknesses, our good deeds and selfish deeds? How many years' worth of
grudges and bitterness and pain have we left unchecked?

A good businessman always checks his balance sheet: how much he spent,
how much he earned. A good teacher always checks the progress of her
students: how many are passing, how many are failing. And they assess
themselves accordingly: "Am I a good businessman?" "Am I a good
teacher?" In the same way we must assess the balance sheets of our
lives. Look at the last year. Where do we stand? How many people did
we hurt? How many did we heal? How many times did we lose our temper?
How many times did we give more than we received? Then, just as we
give our past checkbooks and the first check of our new one to God,
let us give all our minus and plus points to Him. He is the one
responsible for all our good deeds. And our bad ones are due only to
ignorance. So, let us turn everything over to Him, putting our
strengths, our weaknesses, our wins and our losses at His holy feet.
And then, let us start afresh, with a new book, unadulterated by old
grudges and bitterness.

Maha Lakshmi

The third, and perhaps most important, aspect of Diwali is the worship
of Maha Lakshmi. Maha Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity,
bestowing these abundantly upon her devotees. On Diwali we pray to her
for prosperity; we ask her to lavish us with her blessings. However,
what sort of prosperity are we praying for? All too often, we infer
wealth to mean money, possessions, material pleasures. This is NOT the
true wealth in life; this is not what makes us prosperous. There is
almost no correlation between the amount of money we earn, the number
of possessions we buy and our sense of inner bliss and prosperity.

It is only God's presence in our lives which makes us rich. Look at
India. People in small villages, in holy towns, in ancient cities have
very little in terms of material possessions. Most of them live below
the Western standards of poverty. Yet, if you tell them they are
poor, they won't believe you, for in their opinion they are not. This
is because they have God at the center of their lives. Their homes may
not have TV sets, but they all have small mandirs; the children may
not know the words to the latest rock and roll song, but they know the
words to Aarti; they may not have computers or fancy history text
books, but they know the stories of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and
other holy scriptures; they may not begin their days with newspapers,
but they begin with prayer.

If you go to these villages you may see what looks like poverty to
you. But, if you look a little closer, you will see that these people
have a light shining in their eyes, a glow on their faces and a song
in their hearts that money cannot buy.

On Diwali, we must pray to Maha Lakshmi to bestow real prosperity upon
us, the prosperity that brings light to our lives and sparkle to our
eyes. We must pray for an abundance of faith, not money; we must pray
for success in our spiritual lives, not a promotion at work; we must
pray for the love of God, not the love of the beautiful girl (or boy)
in our class.

There is another point about Maha Lakshmi that is important. We tend
to worship only her most prominent of aspects - that of bestowing
prosperity upon her devotees. However, she is a multi-faceted goddess,
filled with symbols of great importance. As we worship her, let us
look more deeply at her divine aspects. First, according to our
scriptures, she is the divine partner of Lord Vishnu. In Hindu
tradition, there is almost always a pair - a male and a female
manifestation of the Divine, and they play interdependent roles. In
this way it is said that Maha Lakshmi provides Lord Vishnu with the
wealth necessary in order to sustain life. He sustains, but through
the wealth she provides.

Therefore, in its highest meaning, Maha Lakshmi provides wealth for
sustenance, not for indulgence. Our material wealth and prosperity
should only sustain us, giving us that which is necessary to preserve
our lives. All surplus should be used for humanitarian causes. She
does not give wealth so that we may become fat and lazy; yet, that is
what we tend to do with the wealth we receive. Let us remember that
Maha Lakshmi's material wealth is meant for sustenance and
preservation, not for luxury and decadence.

Additionally, we worship Maha Lakshmi who is the divine symbol of
purity and chastity. Yet, in our celebration of her, we frequently
indulge in frivolity and hedonism. How can we worship her while
engaging in the opposite of what she represents? We must re-assess how
we pay tribute to this holy Goddess!
The last point I want to mention is that she is typically portrayed
wearing red. What does this mean? Red is the color of action, and she
is the goddess of prosperity. This means that in order to obtain the
true prosperity in life, we must engage in action. Most people think
that in order to be spiritual, or to obtain "spiritual prosperity" one
must be sitting in lotus posture in the Himalayas. This is not the
only way. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna teaches about Karma Yoga,
about serving God by doing your duty. We must engage ourselves in
active, good service; that is truly the way to be with Him.

Let our inner world be filled with devotion to Him, and let our outer
performance be filled with perfect work, perfect action. I once heard
a story about a man who spent 40 years meditating so he could walk on
water. He thought that if he could walk on water, then he had truly
attained spiritual perfection. When I heard this story, I thought,
"Why not spend 40 cents instead for a ride in the motorboat across the
river, and spend the 40 years giving something to the world?" That is
the real purpose of life.

So, on this holy day, let us fill our entire beings with the light of
God. Let us clean out our minds and hearts, making a true "fresh
start." Let us pray to Maha Lakshmi to bestow the divine gifts of
faith, purity and devotion upon us. With those, we will always be
always rich, always prosperous, and always fulfilled. Let us
celebrate Diwali this year as a true "holy day," not only as another
frivolous "holiday."

I pray to the Lord Almighty to bestow health, happiness, peace and
prosperity upon you and all your loved ones.

Significance of Lighting a Lamp

Lamps lit for daily worship, rituals and festivals
Symbolizes KNOWLEDGE, as opposed to darkness or ignorance
Knowledge is lasting INNER wealth - lamp is lit to bow down knowledge
as the greatest of all forms of wealth
God is "Knowledge Principle", the source of all knowledge; thus light
is worshipped as the Lord Himself
Oil or ghee in lamp - our "vasanas" or negative tendencies
Wick - the ego
When lit by spiritual knowledge, the "vasanas' get slowly exhausted,
and the ego too finally perishes
Flame burns upwards Similarly, acquire knowledge so as to take us
towards higher ideals
A single lamp can light hundreds. Similarly a man of knowledge can
share knowledge with others without diminishing his own knowledge

The Five days of Diwali
Diwali is celebrated over five days in most of North India. All the days 
except Diwali are named using the designation in the Indian calendar. A 
lunar half-month is 15 days. Diwali as a new-moon day, marks the last day of 
a 15-day period.

1) Dhan-trayodashi or Dhan teras: Dhan means "wealth" and Trayodashi means 
"13th day". Thus, as the name implies, this day falls on the 13th day of the 
second half of the lunar month. It is an auspicious day for shopping. On 
this day all ayurveda people worship Lord Dhanvantari (God of Ayurveda).

2) Naraka Chaturdasi: Chaturdasi is the fourteenth day on which demon 
Narakasura was killed. It signifies the victory of good over evil and light 
over darkness (Gujarati: Kali Chaudas). In the evening, lamps are lit and 
Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped and offered special dishes. This being a no 
moon day, many will offer special tarpana (offerings of water and sesame 
seeds) to their ancestors.

3) Diwali: the actual day of Diwali, is celebrated on the third day of the 
festival, when the moon completely wanes and total darkness sets in the 
night sky.

4) New Year, begining of the new year according to hindu claender. Govardhan 
Puja or also called Annakut, is celebrated on this day as the day Krishna 
defeated Indra.

5) Bhayiduj (also Bhayyaduj, Bhaubeej or Bhayitika) - on this day, brothers 
and sisters meet to express their love and affection for each other 
(Gujarati: Bhai Bij, Bengali: Bhai Phota). Most Indian festivals bring 
together families, Bhaiduj brings together married sisters and brothers, and 
is a significant festive day for them.

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