Diwali, the festival of lights, undoubtedly the grandest and brightest of all Indian festivals, is a celebration and enjoyment of life. As all things that change over a period of time, Diya’s or oil lamps, (so far the ubiquitous symbol of lighting up ones home for festivities) are soon being replaced by candles. While I don’t wish to take away the irreplaceable splendour of a large ornately carved Diya or Samay as they are traditionally called, standing tall at the entrance of one’s home, I have to add that candles are indeed safer alternatives to light inside the home. Spilt wax is not flammable unlike the oil from the traditional lamps nor does it head up to such high temperatures as to cause injury or burns
Tracing back to ancient India, there are various legends pointing to the origin of Diwali or ‘Deepawali.’ Some believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. Whereas in Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali, the dark goddess of strength.
Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, the symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshiped in most Hindu homes on this day.
In Jainism, Diwali has an added significance to the great event of Lord Mahavira attaining the eternal bliss of nirvana.
Diwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen year long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen Diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.
Despite the various theories on the origin of Diwali festival, one thing we all agree on is that it’s great fun. Each day of Diwali has its own tale, legend and myth to tell.
Lighting candles in accordance to its mythical or historical interpretation can make the festival that much more enjoyable and effective
Though spread over four days, my Diwali preparations actually start at least a week of two in advance. I begin the festivities by hanging fairy lights in the garden or balcony area around the plants. And light candles every single day thereafter till Diwali officially commences.
The first day of the festival Naraka Chaturdasi marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. Amavasya,
On this day why not light a black candle to remove all the negativity from your premises? Burn the candle to the end and throw away all the melted remaining wax immediately.
Or alternately place bowls with flowers and candles at every corner and light floating candles.
Adding rock salt to the water helps in cleansing the negative energy. Placing a rudraksh, crystals or any religious object of your choice in the bowl also generates positive vibrations as the fire energy recharges these objects with positive energy. After burning a floating candle in a bowl containing rock salt and rudraksh etc sprinkle a few drops of this energized water along different corners of your home.
The second day of Diwali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees.
Add Coins to the plate or bowl in which you light the candle. It is believed that by doing so the fire energy of the floating candle will energize the coins and attract prosperity in one’s life.
I often write down little wishes and place them under the candle as an affirmation of my intention. Something as simple as “Dear God, bless my home with health luck and light.” While making these affirmations I recommend burning the candle to its very end and then throwing the melted wax away.
On the third day of Deepawali — or Kartika Shudda Padyami that Bali steps out of hell and rules the earth according to the boon given by Lord Vishnu.
The Hindu tradition lays great emphasis on lighting the Akhanda diya ie keeping the flame alive for the whole day. Lighting five flames at a time and for the whole day is especially recommended on religious days. What better time than Diwali to do this?
The fourth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.
On this day why not light aroma candles? These add greatly to the celebratory ambience. But make sure you chose the same aroma so as to have no clash of scent. The happiness Candle of the Candlight company provides a very joyous atmosphere while the meditate candle give it a holy ambience. You could also try the electric aroma burners if you have young children or pets and prefer to not have an open flame. This can be used by filling the top of the aroma burner with some water, and adding a few drops of essential oil blend or fragrance oils to the water as per srenght of aroma desired.
My intention is not to promote superstition or ritualism in any way and should be used with individual discretion. I am merely sharing what I have learnt, from elders, from tradition and from my own sense of adventure and faith J
My suggestions / tips for burning candles are a way to enhance fun and happiness this Diwali. Wishing you all health wealth luck and light
This piece appears in India Today Home- October 2012- out on the stands now