Wednesday, November 14, 2007

gangasnanam aaccha?










this is the question a tambrahm gets on his telephone from friends and relatives far and wide on deepavali day at the crack of dawn.those who call earlier earn brownie points.they get up early,apply some coconut oil on their heads,wash it off under a shower with shikakai powder and emerge clean, washing off all their past sins. and why not? have they not taken a bath symbolically in the mighty and majestic ganga? they are now ready to take life's challenges with a clean slate. and their friend,a bit apologetic,if he/she has not performed the ablutions yet,would answer that it is going on. and both would have a hearty laugh.

deepavali is the festival of lights.it symbolises the defeat of darkness by light.the removal of ignorance with knowledge.celebrating the return of lord rama to ayodhya,the population welcomed him with diyas on both sides of the pathway.that is the meaning of deep+vali.rows of lighted lamps.in fact, the whole city of ayodhya was ablaze with lights and with deafening noise of crackers when lord rama arrived after vanquishing ravana. celebration is a way of life in india.we wish for heath and wealth.for us and for others.we pray for love.to embrace those around us with kindness.and to shed light on the lives of the havenots.

after donning new clothes kept in the pujaroom overnight, partaking of 'lehiyam',a concoction prepared to put your stomach in order to enable you to consume lots of sweet preparations,one goes for the kill.mysore pak,terattipaal,janghiri and badushah.(we got some of the sweets from sri krishna sweets,chembur this year) .the women in the house have already drawn images and figures on the floor of the main entrance to the house,which add colour and vibrancy to the festival.called rangoli or alpana or kolam they create a magical piece of art.it is considered a holy ritual not to be missed out.even muslims and parsis decorate their entrances with rangoli and diya.the designs generally are geometric in shape.circles,triangles,etc.images of flowers,creepers etc are also made. om symbol,swastika,footsteps of goddess lakshmi are drawn using paste of ricegrains,turmeric poder,vermillion powder etc.

the jain community of india celebrate deepavali as a new year's day.lord mahavira,the founder of jainism,attained his nirvana on the day of deepavali.sikhs celebrate deepavali to commemorate the return of the sixth guru to amritsar in 1620.alongwith 52 hindu kings,the guru was imprisoned by emperor aurangazeb.the guru when granted freedom refused to leave. he insisted that all the 52 kings be released.emperor aurangazeb agreed.this is one festival which brings together people from different faiths and communities to share their joy and to generate a feeling of brotherhood and religious harmony.

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