Deepavali—Beacons of Hope
No imported lights can vie with the beauty of the traditional diyas lighted on Deepavali. Deepavali, a Sanskrit word, is the conjunction of the words deepa meaning light and aavali, meaning arrays. It can be construed that Deepavali is a festival consisting of arrays of lights, and that is as it should be. Every home should sparkle with the radiant hues of deepas or lamps, in order to welcome Goddess Lakshmi (who is the goddess of prosperity). It is believed that the Goddess enters and bestows wealth upon the homes that are most welcoming and brightest, and hence efforts are made days in advance to scour and burnish homes.
Lovingly crafted, the handiwork of days of toil and sweat, the flickering glow of these little decorative diyas on verandahs, terraces and in any nook and corner of our homes delight us and light the way for the Goddess Lakshmi. Sadly, though, the ersatz imported electric lights are increasingly edging them out, much to the financial detriment of the craftsmen and their families who have been in this profession for centuries and could face extinction if this trend continues.
An interesting legend pertaining to Dhan trayodashi, is about the sixteen-year-old son of King Hima. The horoscopes predicted that he was doomed to die on the fourth night of his marriage due to the venomous bite of a serpent. On that very fourth night, however, the son’s wife would not let him sleep. She piled golden ornaments, jewelry, silver and gold in a pile towards the entrance to his bedroom, and sang songs all night. Then, just as predicted, Yama, the Lord of Death, came in a separate form to take away the life of the young man as predicted.
But, after seeing all the light reflected by the jewelry and ornaments, Yama was blinded. So he climbed on top of all the ornaments and listened to the songs sung by the woman and left in the morning. Thus the young man was saved. Since this day, Dhana trayodashi (Dhanteras) came to be known as the day of ‘yama deepa daana,’ means lighting the lamps in order to pacify Yama, the Lord of Death.
This legend again highlights the unparalleled love of a woman for her family, in some cases even outwitting death to protect her loved ones. Her praise is sung in the Songs of Solomon, a good woman’s price is ‘far above rubies.’
The toil of women in the making of these little diyas (growing increasingly decorative by the year) cannot be over-emphasized and highly deserves our support, keeping in mind the beautiful thoughts and love that go into their making. Please support their efforts to keep this tradition alive. You will be acknowledging her value.