Published: 13 November 2021 | Written by Namita Sinha
‘Each and every day, light the three lamps of prayer, meditation, and contemplation as a reminder of the perennial Light of Love that you are, your true Being.’ ~ Swami Ritavan Bharati, Deepavali Blessings 2021
Once a year, as the winter begins to set in, comes the brightest festival of all – Deepavali (Diwali), the festival of lights. Celebrated to mark the return of Sri Rama to Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years and having defeated Ravana, Diwali is a celebration of victory of dharma over adharma, of light over darkness. Sri Rama’s life is an ideal of dharma and sadhana, and inspires us to overcome our inner Ravana, the defiant ignorance and ego that urges within us. So that the true light of Deepavali can arise within us and never be extinguished.
‘The song you hear is a light to your ear. The sweet taste is a light to your palate. Love is the light of your heart as meditation is the light of your soul. Light wears many garments, and of these your prayer is the brightest.’
~ Swami Veda Bharati, The Light of Ten Thousand Suns
Deepavali is a reminder that the lights that abound us outwardly, the festivities that kindle our senses are the reflections of that supreme light.
Traditionally, Deepavali is celebrated in India over five days during the Hindu month of Kartika, Krishna Paksha (the waning moon phase). It starts with Dhanteras (also called Dhan-Trayodashi) to Bhai Dooj, when sisters apply tilak on their brother’s foreheads on this day wishing him a long life and prosperity. Goddess Lakshmi is the main deity that is worshipped at this time. She is the principle of nourishment, wealth and abundance.
At SRSG, Diwali has been celebrated in the traditional way with pujas and lighting up the entire ashram with diyas (oil lamps). This year also 1100 lamps lit up the ashram. The pathways were lit, the areas surrounding Mandala, Maa Tara and Shiva temples, yajna-shala, meditation hall, and the sacred spots of Buddha and Mother Mary were all adorned with oil lamps.
Deepavali pujas were performed after sunset at both ashrams, Sadhana Mandir and SRSG.
The pujas were presided by Ashram Pramukh and Spiritual Director, Swami Ritavan Bharati, along with resident Swamis, Swami Prayag Giri and Swami Tattvananda Bharati, and performed by residing Pandit Deepak Semwal, and guest pandits.
Lakshmi puja was followed by Sri Yantra puja, and deepa-pujanam (worship of the lamps) with mantras, flowers, incense and naivedyam, and sweets and fruits were offered. Honouring goddess Lakshmi is to pray for abundance and wealth, so that the wealth may be maintained, grow and be applied for the purpose of promoting dharma, for the upliftment of society and for the prosperity of all beings.
The day after Deepavali, Govardhan Puja was performed for the cows in gaushala at the ashram. Cows are sacred and are worshipped as the Divine Mother, the giver of abundance (as milk) that is the elixir of good health. Govardhan Puja is also associated with Sri Krishna, who lifted the Govardhan parvat (mountain) to save the people of Vrindavan from the wrath of Lord Indra, as is mentioned in the Puranas.
The festivities energised the ashramites with activity and seva in planning, organising and enjoying the amity of a sangha.