Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Deepawali - Festival of Lights

Diwali or Deepawali (Sanskrit: दीपावलि: a row of lamps) is a significant festival in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and an official holiday in India and Nepal.Adherents of these religions celebrate Diwali as the Festival of Lights. They light diyas—cotton string wicks inserted in small clay pots filled with oil—to signify victory of good over the evil within an individual.
In Hinduism, across many parts of India and Nepal, In the age of Sri Lord Krishna, named Naraka more powerful evil killed by Satyabhama who is wife of Sri Lord krishna,People celebrate the death of Naraka which is called as Diwali. Addition of the above story it is the homecoming of Rama after a 14-year exile in the forest and his victory over Ravana. In the legend, the people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed Rama by lighting rows (avali) of lamps (dĭpa), thus its name: Deepawali. In South India, it marks the victory of Krishna over Narakasura.

Light is a source of energy to all Living beings inorder to carry on their work and to exist. So we give res
pect to the light or the supreme energy , worship the source who is giving the energy on these days, and we celebrate it as Deepawali.

In India and Nepal, Diwali is now considered to be a national festival, and the aesthet

ic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians and Nepalese regardless of faith.

On the day of Diwali / Deepavali, many wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks. Some North Indian business communities start their financial year on Diwali and new account books are opened on this day.

Photography point of view :

Photographing these fireworks is not an easy task. The photographers have to be prepared with the equipments, adjust the settings and then shoot. As the beauty of fireworks are displayed in the night, the camera's shutter speed will be too low and this causes the picture to be out of focus . The photographers have to keep all these in mind then start shooting pictures. Inorder to get good pictures usage of tripod is a must . Handheld pictures are also acceptable.

In this case , the photographer was shooting pictures at the other end. Immediately crackers played its role in the adjacent side (as seen in the picture) , So tracking and photographing FIREWORKS AND LIGHTNING is not an easy task.
We need to take care of our equipments when photographing the fireworks, because all these crackers are highly unpredictable and can burst at any time and at any place.

Significance :

Return of Rama to Ayodhya: Diwali also celebrates the return of Rama, King ofAyodhya, with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana to Ayodhya after a 14 year exile, and a war in which he killed Ravana. It is believed that the people of Ayodhya lit ghee lamps along the way to light their path in the darkness. Since Ram traveled from South India to his kingdom in North India, he passed through the south earlier. This is the reason why the festival is celebrated a day earlier in South India. Diwali usually comes 19 or 20 days after Dasara.

The Killing of Narakasura: Celebrated as Narak Chaturdashi, one day before Diwali day, it commemorates the killing of Narakasura, an evil demon who created havoc, by Krishna's wife Satyabhama. This happened in the Dwapara Yuga during this time of Krishna's avatar. In another version, the demon was killed by Krishna ( Krishna provokes his wife Satyabhama to kill Narshna defeating Indra: Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Diwali. It is the day Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. As per the story, Krishna saw huge preparations for the annual offering to Lord Indra and questions his father Nanda about it. He debated with the villagers about what their 'dharma' truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He continued to say that all human beings should merely do their 'karma', to the best of their ability and not pray for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna then lifted Mt Govardhan and held it up as protection to his people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. This aspect of Krishna's life is mostly glossed but it set up the basis of the 'karma' philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavat Gita.

Some of my images :

When is Diwali celebrated ?
Diwali is celebrated for 5 days according to the lunar Hindu Calendar. It begins in late Ashwin (September-October) and ends in early Kartika (October-November). The first day is Dhan Teras, 13th day of the dark half of Ashwin. The last day is Yama Dvitiya, the 2nd day of the light half of Kartika. Each day marks celebrates one of the six principle stories associated with the festival.


ततस्तुः लोकः प्रतिवर्षमादरत् प्रसिद्धदीपलिकयात्र भारते |
समुद्यतः पूजयितुं जिनेश्वरं जिनेन्द्र-निर्वाण विभूति-भक्तिभाक् |२० |
tatastuh lokah prativarsham-araat ako
prasiddha-deepalikaya-aatra bharate
samudyatah poojayitum jineshvaram
jinendra-nirvana vibhuti-bhaktibhak

Translation: The gods illuminated Pavanagari by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time, the people of Bharat celebrate the famous festival of "Dipalika" to worship the Jinendra (i.e. Lord Mahavira) on the occasion of his nirvana.

Dipalikaya roughly translates as "light leaving the body". Dipalika, which can be roughly translated as "splenderous light of lamps", is used interchangeably with the word "Diwali".

The way Jains celebrate Diwali is different in many respects. There is a note of asceticism in whatever the Jains do, and the celebration of Diwali is not an exception. The Jains celebrate Diwali during the month of Kartik for three days. During this period, among the Shvetambaras, devoted Jains observe fasting and chant the Uttaradhyayan Sutra, which contain the final pravachans of Lord Mahavira, and meditate upon him. Some Jains visit Pavapuri in Bihar where he attained Nirvan. In may temples special laddus are offered particularly on this day.

Diwali in South India :

  • In Southern India, narakasura vratha is the main day, with celebration with firecrackers at dawn after lakshmi puja.
  • Deepavali is one of the seven most important festivals of Andhra Pradesh.Diwali festival is very popular among the children for the joy of bursting fire crakers. Special areas to sell fire crackers are set up in all towns and cities including bigger villages. There are some pseudo-traditional customs followed such as buying new clothes for this festival. Buying new home or vehicles such as cars and trucks is considered auspicious. Special sweets are made too. Some eateries in Hyderabad make some delicious sweets during Diwali which will not be available at any other time. Meat and alcohol are generally not consumed. Tradition has it that Andhraites gift sweets during Diwali. Some areas host local stage story telling called Hari Katha. Some areas may put a huge Narakasura dummy made with fire crackers. This will be burst by a person wearing the dress of Lord Krishna or more accurately, a costume of Satyabhama, the consort of Lord Krishna who actually killed the demon Narakasura; an event that is celebrated as Diwali for generations. The evening of Diwali is a colourful sight to watch the evening sky.
  • The main festival in Karnataka is on the first day -Narakachaturdashi and third day- Balipadyami, with no celebration on the middle day ofAmavasye. The festivities begin a day, during which water is stored (following the tradition, since running water was not available with ease, and it had to be carried from nearby ponds and lakes) for the next day's oil bath in the early hours of the morning. Then the entire house is cleaned and new clothes are purchased for the entire family (signifies becoming a new/better person by giving up darkness within us) which is followed by lighting of oil lamps around the house and bursting firecrackers.
  • The third day is celebrated as Bali Padyami as the day of Vamana's victory over 'Mahabali'. This festival is greatly celebrated in Karnataka.
  • In Tamil Nadu it is celebrated as Deepavali. Celebrate this with lighting deepams, firecrackers, wearing new dresses and Sweets. It is a big festival in Tamil Nadu. They Take Oil bath early in the morning and poosai. After that Crackers and a traditional Visit to the Temple.
  • Photography : Arjun Haarith.G

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