Understanding the true meaning of Diwali

By Our Reporter

What is the spiritual significance behind Diwali? Diwali comes from the word Dipavali which has two words—Dipa meaning Light and Avali means Rows of Light/Carrier of Light. Therefore Dipa signifies ‘coming to light’. In Vedic culture, a lamp is lit to drive away inauspiciousness. It also means to come into knowledge from darkness.

In Bhagavad-gita Chapter 10 Verse 11, Lord Krishna says—‘To show them (the devotees) special mercy, I with the shining lamp of knowledge, destroy the darkness born of ignorance.’ So these festivals if celebrated in the right spirit of knowledge and understanding can actually help one to re-awaken their dormant Krishna consciousness and progress on the spiritual path by the kind mercy of Lord Krishna. In this regard, there is another famous Vedic mantra that says: ‘Tamaso Ma, Jyotir Gama’, which means give up the ignorance and come to mode of goodness through spiritual knowledge. Another meaning is—where there is light, there cannot be darkness of ignorance. So it is the duty of every human being to study the scriptures and become enlightened into the spiritual path and thus get out of the cycle of material life. This light of Diyas during Dipavali can also be a reminder to resume the journey towards spiritual salvation.

Diwali is celebrated for five days, each holding special importance through scriptural history.

Day One is Dhanteras, dedicated to the worship of Lord Dhanvantari for good health. Goddess Lakshmi also appeared on this day from the Milk Ocean and she was married to Lord Vishnu. Throughout the world, many worship Goddess Lakshmi on this day—however the real benefit is obtained not by worshipping Lakshmi alone but along with her husband, Lord Narayana. That would bring real happiness and peace.

2. Day Two is the killing of Narakasura who had kidnapped 16,000 queens during the Dvapara Yuga. Lord Krishna and His consort Satyabhama had killed Naraksura and given shelter to the 16,000 queens. Another event on this day is when everyone lightslamps to pacify Lord Yamaraja, the God of death (Yama deep-dana).

3. Day Three is homecoming of Lord Rama, Lakshman and Sita devi after their 14 years of exile in the forest. The citizens of Ayodhya upon return of Lord Rama were exuberated with happiness and with great enthusiasm lit lamps all over the city. Continuing the tradition till date, people on this day clean up their homes, decorate the houses with Rangolis, light lamps, chant mantras and sing songs of joy. On this day, the Damodar Lila, one of the famous festivals in the Vaishnava tradition also took place.

4. Day Four is Govardhan Puja—Time to celebrate a special pastime of Lord Krishna when He had held Govardhan Hill on his little finger for seven days to protect the local citizens from torrents of rain from Indra (the Rain God), who was angered because Lord Krishna was showing the residents of Vrindavan that He (Govardhan mountain) is the Supreme Lord, and they should make all offerings to Him. Thus Indra poured rain for seven days and nights. After seeing Lord Krishna’s power, Indra was humbled and accepted Lord Krishna as his Lord. This is when the ornamentally decorated cows are also worshipped and given in charity to Brahmans. There are 33,000,000 million devatas residing in the body of a cow. Since everyone brings some food there are lots of offerings and thus it is called Annakoot (Anna means food and Kuta means hill). Lord Krishna had turned Himself into Govardhan Hill and accepted all the offerings.

Day Five is the festival of Bhai-duuj or a special festival commemorating the bond between brothers and sisters. This is the day when Yamaraja visited his sister Yamuna devi. It is said that on this day if the brothers visit their sister’s homes, and if the sisters receive them nicely, the brothers would live a long and prosperous life.

The Hare Krishna Melbourne Temple, established in the 1970s is one of the oldest and most prominent temples in Australia, known for its rich spiritual heritage, beautiful festivals and darshans and the distribution of delicious Prasadam every day, without any cost to devotees. The Hare Krishna temple has been celebrating the Diwali festival for many years at their premises in St. Kilda but for the first time in history, the Diwali festival was also extended to the Western suburbs at Featherbrook Community Center, Pointcook on the evening of 27 October 2019. (Article continues after photo gallery)

The festival was a combination of entreating and soul-filled music and bhajans commemorating the Diwali and Damodar Lila, an enlightening talk about Diwali, traditional dances, henna and face-painting activities, offering diyas of worship to the deities of ‘Lord Rama, Lakshman, Goddess Sita and Hanuman’ and finally serving a delicious and spiritually sanctified 3-course vegetarian meal. The event saw 200 people delighted at celebrating the festival in a very unique and traditional way. “Our family did not know that Diwali is much more than just bursting crackers and exchanging sweets. I’m blessed to know that this festival holds such special significant events throughout history. We loved every aspect of the program tonight and look forward to attending the future events,” said Lata Kumari, one of the guests.

The Sunday Feast, or originally called the Sunday Love Feast, was started by Srila Prabhupada, the Founder Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and is a glorious opportunity for anyone to come and chant, dance, listen to Vedic philosophy, take Prasadam (sanctified or karma-free food), become jubilant and purchase transcendental literature. This Love feast, over the years has attracted tens and thousands of people all over the world towards ISKCON.

Therefore, if you haven’t already been a part of our festivals and events, it’s never too late. The Hare Krishna temple hosts regular deity greetings, festivals, prasadam distribution and Sunday Feast programs at its premises on 197 Danks Street, St. Kilda West. Alternatively, if you reside in the Western suburbs, you are invited to attend and participate at our next Sunday Feast event happening on 24 November, starting 5.15 pm at Featherbrook Community Center, Pointcook.


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