Wednesday 22 October 2014

The Festival of Lights

I will keep this post light and simple. Festival of Diwali is just round the corner, and there is no point expecting readers to spend a good few half an hour in front of their laptops/mobile phones. But, amidst this very debate of crackers v/s no crackers, people often bring up the point of "What's the point of fire crackers?" in their conversation. Well, lets sit back for a moment and have a look at the festival of Diwali. Who knows, a few people may get some answers here and there?

A point of confusion:  Lets move directly to the day when Rama has just defeated Ravana, the day, we celebrate even today as Dusshehra. Now, Ram was a pious king, so he would have made sure that the bodies of all soldiers were ceremoniously cremated. He also waited for Vibhishana to be crowned king of Lanka, or whatever remained of it. He would have bid adieu to Sugriva, Jamavant, Nala, Neela, and others. All of this could have taken a day, or two, when Rama along with Laxman and Sita would have started back for Ayodhya. All of them reach Ayodhya and the entire town broke into celebrations, the day, we still celebrate as Diwali. Which means, it took all three of them some 18-19 days to travel back the distance of 3253 km. This certainly seems to be a bit far fetched, especially knowing that they crossed sea, and high altitude mountains and dense forests, not to mention they didnt have any maps. How did they do it then? Ramayana mentions a certain Pushpak Vimana, but could they fly in those days?
To get the answers of the above question, please like the page of my upcoming book, Finders, Keepers. There is no point missing a chance of promoting your book :)

The burning of crackers: Its always been a nature of history, that what we see around us today, may not have been because of results of one singular act of events in history, but a combination of results of a number of acts together in history, which led to the very activity that we see in front of us.
Interestingly, there is no mention either in Ramayana or any other scripture of those times of burning of firecrackers when Rama along with Sita returned back to Ayodhya in Pushpak Viman. Then how did this act of burning of crackers got associated with the festival of Diwali?

As per some scriptures, there was a demon Narakasura who ruled the kingdom of Pradoshyapuram, who was the son of Bhumi Devi. He had a boon that he could be killed only by his mother. and Bhumi Devi had already died in his childhood. That had made him immortal in a way.
The king was evil and had even troubled Indra with his atrocities. Indra requested Krishna to end the evils of Narakasura. Krishna requested his wife, Satyabhama to accompany him  in this quest as he was aware that Satyabhama was the reincarnation of Bhumi Devi.
Krishna fought an epic battle with Narakasura and destroyed his army but was heavily injured by Narakasura because of his boon. Seeing an injured Krishna, Satyabhama picked up his Chakra and killer Narakasura out of fury.

Before his death, he requested for a boon from Krishna and Satyabhama that people should celebrate his death anniversary by lighting up their houses, distributing sweets and bursting firecrackers. His boon was granted by Satyabhama and Krishna and they blessed him that his death anniversary would be celebrated on the day of Diwali, which was already celebrated to mark the return of Rama and Sita back to Ayodhya.

The scientific angle: Believe it or not, there is a very scientific angle reated to burning of crackers and lighting lamps around this time of the year. Diwali comes at the onset of winters, and the rainy season is almost coming to an end.
With water being stagnant, mosquitoes and other insects  breed a lot, bringing with them a whole lot of  diseases.  In the older days when healthcare was not so advanced, bursting firecrackers was seen as one way to rid the atmosphere of  the insects, kill the bugs around. Also in a way burning firecrackers was one way of welcoming the winter chill, that was just about setting in

The etymological reasons: As per certain historians, the practice of burning of crackers originated in China as a means of warding off evil and notorious spirits by scaring them with loud bursting sounds and lights. Soon, this practice spread to other parts of the world, including India.
In the early days, the practice of burning of crackers and lighting of lamps was done to entertain the royals and the kings only, but soon, the practice associated a religious significance of symbolizing the victory of good over evil with itself, and burning of crackers became a regular practice at Diwali.
People had already been celebrating Diwali by lighting lamps, and cleaning their houses by then, as a mark of return of Rama and Sita to Ayodhya, and soon other practices also came to be getting associated with Diwali.

I didnt touch upon the Rama v/s Ravana part much in the above post, as that is one story that we have been listening to, hearing from our grannies since a long time, and in my knowledge, almost everyone if aware of. But, that doesnt stop me from mentioning how Diwali is still symbol of victory of the good over the evil. The tale of the victory of Rama over Ravana, or the tale of death of Narakasura at the hands of Satyabhama certainly strengthen the belief.
So, make your own decision on how you want to celebrate the festival of lights, and there is no particular way by which Diwali should be celebrated. As long as you are comfortable with your own way of celebrations, you should stick to it and celebrate the day as a symbolic victory of good over evil.

I would like to end this post now.
Coming up with a book based on Indian history/mythology.
Please join the Facebook page and invite others as well to do the same.
Please help me promote the book and the page and make it a huge success.

Please click here and like the page which comes up - Finders, Keepers
Bidding Adieu for now.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written.......scientific part was awesome...really liked this one...:)