Deepavali: Festival of Lights

October 19, 2006

diya_crackers_2.jpg
Collage: RK

Deepavali is one of the most popular festivals in India. It is the festival of lights symbolising the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The word `Deepavali’ literally means rows of Deepa or Diya (clay lamp). Deepavali is a festival for lighting rows of lamps.

There is also a deeper meaning associated with this. Lamps give light, which is a symbol of Gyana (knowledge). Knowledge is a lasting inner wealth by which all outer achievements can be accomplished. Lakshmi (wealth) increases only in the environment of knowledge and light, where the intentions and motives are clear and full of wisdom.

Wherever there is Agyana, that is darkness or ignorance, it leads to loss of wealth and even if it is acquired it is not long lasting. Hence we light lamps to bow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms of wealth.

The symbolism of light is essential to this festival. It is understood that without light there can be no life. Light is responsible for the development of all living things. Light is associated with heat, the sun and the divine.

It is also stated that during this day Goddess Lakshmi resides in the flame of the Deepa or Diya making the purpose of lighting the Deepa even more significant.

The traditional oil lamp has a further spiritual and scientific significance. The spiritual significance being that the oil or ghee in the lamp symbolises our Vaasanas (negative tendencies) and the wick, the ego. When lit by spiritual knowledge, the Vaasanas get slowly exhausted and the ego too finally perishes. The scientific reason can be stated in a way that ghee lamp is a mode of purifying the environment and distributing what one has to give to a large number of people.

The festival is celebrated by worshipping Lord Ganesha, the God of wisdom and Goddess Lakshmi – the mother of all – and worshipping pen, paper and account books just to remember that we should not be careless in our expenditure and remain within our budget.

But in recent years there has been some criticism about the celebration of Deepavali in India. The most common issue is the noise pollution caused by crackers, which greatly affects infants, pets and older people. The chemicals like copper cadmium, lead, magnesium, potassium, nitrate, nitrite, phosphorus in PO4 and sulphur in SO4 used in crackers cause severe eye, throat and breathing problems. They even result in headache and reduces mental acuity, allergic bronchitis, acute exacerbation of bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases), laryngitis, sinusitis, pneumonia.

Children, pregnant women and those suffering from respiratory problems suffer the most due to excessive noise. It results in making them hyperactive or withdrawn. Also, pet animals like cats and dogs have horrible time during this festival as the cracker sounds they hear are many times more louder than what we humans can hear. And you will hardly find any of them in the open as they will be hiding under the bed or in some remote corner away from the sounds. Feel sorry for those poor animals.

Why can’t we celebrate Deepavali for just what it is — The festival of lights and not noise and pollution? Imagine such a Deepavali — quiet and serene with a thousand lamp lights glowing like stars in a clear sky!

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26 Responses to “Deepavali: Festival of Lights”

  1. shark Says:

    A very happy Deepavali to you too…:)

    I don’t agree with you on the last paragraph :( Crackers are fun! I know not many will agree with me.. I also know that it causes noice and air pollution… but come on! 2 days in a year?

    I think we have developed an avertion to it now becasue there is so much of noise and air pollution all around us every day that this seems too much!

    There is a time and occasion for everything. Even for bursting crackers :) ANd I don’t think we should take away that.

    But in today’s scenario, maybe we have a solution. A particular area people can get together and burst these crackers in some open grounds or something so that both the purposes are served :)

  2. travel plaza Says:

    RK, Wishing you and your family a very Happy Deepavali. Enjoy maadi..nammellarigunu sersi pataki hodiri…

  3. Anil Anand Says:

    RK,

    Happy Deepavali to you and everyone who readds your blogs.
    Enjoy!


  4. Dear all,

    ” enne neer hakkondu,
    hosa batte thotkondu,
    pooje ella madkondu,
    bandu balagadavrenella nodkondu,
    pataki jasthi hodkondu,
    habbadoota thinkondu,
    maneli santoshaana beerkondu,
    Antarangadalli matthu bahirangadalli
    belakanna thumbkondu”

    deepavalina acharisi.

    Ellarigu deepavaliya shubhashayagalu.

    TSSM

  5. decemberstud Says:

    RK,

    dIpagaLa habba nimmellarigU sukha saMruddhi tarali !!!

    And, I am all with shark on bursting crackers. I loved it and I still love it (even though I don’t get to do it where I live).

    I don’t subscribe to the science class in the last two paragraphs of your post ;) To me, Deepavali without crackers is really not Deepavali at all. I can as well call it Winter Ugadi.

    Hope you enjoyed the ‘abhyaMjana’ and ‘paTAki’ :) I miss them all…but then, we have a party at our home tomorrow…

    Wishes again !!!

  6. christy Says:

    Hai RK,

    First of all thanks for ur reply RK, I agree with u completely abt not bursting crackers, my puppy is really struggling from yesterday because of noise. We all family members are celebrating deepavali only with lights( not electric or wax diyas). We feel soo happy to see our house with full of lights. Hope everyone celebrate Deepavali as u said for just what it is.

    Mathhome nimagu nima maneyavarigu deepavali ya hardika subashayagalu.

    Christy.

  7. Vani Says:

    Bellur,

    Deepavali hegittu? I felt that there was not much cracker-bursting this year.

    Only problem was the people opposite my residence started their cracker-bursting after 10.30 PM which was really a nuisance.

    Also the fumes emitted are terrible, I have seen my mother, grandfather and uncle, all chronic asthmatics, suffer a lot in this season.

    I feel that the idea of allocating some open space for bursting crackers does hold water, but what if some mishap occurs? In place of 1 -2 casualties, there may be 10s or 100s.

    Guess we must limit crackers to Aane Patakis, Lakshmi Patakis and some 100 waalas etc,and not have those abominable hydrogen bombs, atom bombs and so forth.

    I lit Deepas (the traditional ones) all around the house and on the compound.

  8. Veena Shivanna Says:

    Bellur, nice picture. olle nijavaada deepagaLu sakkattagide. It gave a traditional look to the post.
    PaTaaki hodidvi, even I was feeling it was too much a noise antha, specially I was watching Sudha Murthy(my role model) talking on ETV(ondu maatu) on ETV on sunday & somebody lit a lar of some 200 or 300 which took out like few seconds to complete. I missed the whole conversation part of it. Otherwise it was all total fun. I have recorded some videos of that fun part, will share it with you.

    Amele hoge swalpa irritating annisutte, I was down with some vomiting problem, sanjay told me may be due to sulphur hoge. I thought sometime spending too much time cooking deep fried items like Kajjaya & sweets like obbaTu & finally eating the same may cause some aversion towards the same food antha ankonde :-) As part of the process followup I am now on antibiotics!! ;-)

    When this deepavali comes, It reminds me about our doggy ceasar, which is currently in our friend’s place in chikkamangalur. It used to get so scared of these noise & then it used to hide below some coat or shelf like places. My younger brother loved that dog so much that he left cracking paTaki due to that when he was about 12 years(8 years back story).. Even now, I keep teasing.. You can write a post on the pets.. specially dogs.. My brother will love reading it, he is so crazy that he has its name in his email id… People can be so crazy like you too who has named his kid as RKN!! Amazing is the world – with people like you & my brother… We are the lucky people to know you atleast!! Keep going & write such good post…

  9. Veena Shivanna Says:

    Your last paragraph reminds me about ‘Lakshadeepotsava’ which is celebrated in srirangapatna where people lit those laksha deepa & float in the river…

    onde ondu kade maatu… deepavali ella ondu habba varshakke mooru dina .. so paTaaki hodedu santhosha padi sir. noise pollution & silence ella its good. Lets celebrate.. Silence ella ade karnataka bundh barattalla aaga..
    aamele innondu vishya, November 1st time alli rajyotsava prashasti barattalla. munde innastu varsha aadmele, nimgu ondu prashasti barli antha haaraisutta.. nanna comments end maadtheeni…

  10. rk Says:

    shark,
    in india, there are people who do not follow the rules and are not sensitive to others. (case in point; plz read a comment by my friend vani.) they burst crackers at odd hours and cause a lot of inconvenience to others. and when you have old people, tiny tots and pet animals, you cannot see them suffer during this period.
    moreover, crackers are not what they were when we used to burst them. they have become more louder & costlier and emit more smoke.maybe you need to visit us to understand what we experience every year during deepavali!
    the solution you have provided is good. but the thing is there are not many open spaces. and people find it thrilling to see the papers and burnt crackers in front of their houses, with the litter spreading all across the street! ;)

    tp,
    thanks. nammadu nimmadu yellardu sersi namma roadalli iro “sethu” hodithidaare!

    anil,
    thanks. god bless us all.

    tssm,
    olle kavana. well written. nimagu habbada shubhashayagalu.

    decemberstud,
    hope you had a great party!
    haha, ‘science class’ annbitralla sir! yen gotta? patakis are not what they were when yourself, shark and all of us in the ’80s used to enjoy bursting. a lot of smoke gets emitted when even a BIJLI is burst. and when those SPARKLERS are burning, the smoke emitted looks as if an AUTO is running on Kerosene! My son burst a few of those and is coughing ever since monday.
    sir, next year deepavalige illige banni.
    best wishes and take care!

    vani,
    there was a lot of crackers bursting near our place. and a few kept bursting till midnight, although they were not supposed to. a few complained to the cops, who told them that they were short of personnel and that people must co-operate and stuff. my son is suffering from the ‘pataki hoge’. since a few years, open spaces are not even available to see patakis. malleswaram grounds, where crackers were sold since time immemorial, does not have those aluminium stalls this year. so where to go and burst in open? and people do not want to drive out of the city on a habba, they would want to watch TV which relays special programmes and during the break, go out and burst crackers, alwa? so all these safety measures good in theory, ashte.
    nice to hear that you lit deepas.
    best wishes

    veena,
    glad you liked the post and the picture. missed the ‘ondu maathu’ on Etv. yes, those 1000-walas are the rage everywhere. i had a teacher who used to keep on scolding and shouting at us for not doing homework, not keeping silent, not behaving…..whenever she shouted, used to feel as if a 1000-wala was bursting!
    nice to hear about your dog CEASAR. nice to know that your brother has his mail id in the pet’s name.
    an aunt of mine has a labrador, HONEY. she was scared and was inside the house, under the bed when i saw her on deepavali. she was crying. felt sad for it.
    feels nice to hear about “lakshadeepotsava” in srirangapattana. it is celebrated in most temples here in karthika maasa. the kaadu malleswara gudi near my house does it in a grand way. do make time and visit it this month.
    khanditha aacharisona deepavali. varshakke mooru dina pataaki kaala aaghoythu. nowadays, anytime, anywhere, you can get pataaki and people burst when india wins, india loses, during gokulashtami, new year, elections…..
    hope you are keeping fine now.
    and rajyothsava prashathi barakke nanenu madilla kannadakke, kannada naadige. maadidru, prashasthi barali antha maadalla. nimma haaraikegalige dhanyavaadagalu.

  11. usha Says:

    Bellur,

    Nanu yathaprakara Late, reply madokke, Pataki Vishayadalli khanditha nanna anisike kharaney..

    I have always felt deepavali is depagal habba, eenaduve shabdagala habba agbittide.. very sad

    Namgeno habba , sambhrama , akka pakkadalliro patients, old people, pranigala gati yenu… modle traffic, honking sound idadde dinanu, dina kudiyo gaadigala galine 10 cigarettes ge sama anthe, innu adra mele uppinkayi thara ee hogenoo seridre.. shathayushya irli 50 kooda arogyavagi datalla asthe…

    Munchina kaaldalli pataki yella irlillwalla, aaga traditional agi habba acharisida hage eegloo acharisabahudu… naavu namma prakruthina yesthu kapadtheevu, namage, mathu namma mundina peeligeavarge onchooru miguthe (atleast samplegaadru), Idondu chintane.


  12. [...] Deepavali: Festival of Lights [...]

  13. rk Says:

    usha,
    yenu late illa bidi. i agree with your comments. infants below one year of age are most vulnerable as the structures of the ears are very delicate. besides, senior citizens are also quite vulnerable as the degenerative process brought on by ageing has already set in. they are shocked to hear the sudden sound made by the crackers. moreover, people with a heart condition, hypertension or hypotension and asthma could be faced with problems that could manifest as fatigue, headaches, irritability etc. even some animals suffer badly. also birds, whose nests (or sometimes birds themselves) gets hit by the rockets.
    neevu heliro haage, prakruthi mundhina peelige kooda savi beku. adhu avara hakku. adanna kaapadodhu namma karthavya.

  14. nilagriva Says:

    RK and others,

    I hope all of you had a safe and happy deepavali.

    I don’t know when the cracker tradition started with deepavali – but it is probably a more recent invention (max 100 years ago). If you look at any of the traditional accounts of deepavali, you won’t see any cracker bursting. So, it is quite possible to celebrate deepavali without crackers, at least according to tradition.

    Having said that, however, Deepavali, when I was a kid, was all about crackers. After spending the better part of a decade in the US, I was longing to burst some crackers when I returned to India. After I came back, I did spend quite some money on crackers for the first year. But now, I tend to agree more with RK’s views. If you ask me why now, I can’t give a specific answer.

    On another note, I saw that the number of people bursting crackers in my neighborhood had gone down considerably. But that was probably because of lack of enthusiasm rather than because of informed abstinence – and that worries me more. The next generation, if not corrected, will grow into lazy, obese, gadget-obsessed couch potatoes.

    With hopes that my worries are unfounded,
    -nIlagrIva


  15. Thanks for the information! Happy Deepavali!

  16. rk Says:

    nilagriva,
    thanks for the insightful comment. as you have said, saw less number of people bursting crackers.

    Ituloy Angsulong,
    welcome to RwB. thanks for dropping by. everyday is deepavali, coz everyday you light the spiritual lamp, spiritual knowledge gets enhanced, which is good for the soul. happy deepavali to you too!


  17. [...] is generously dotted with images of the overflowing Huggi pot signifying prosperity. During Deepavali, Rangoli is drawn showing several [...]


  18. That was a really good post. It helped me to make sense of some of the issues with the subject. There is another good blog on the same topic that I was reading a while ago.


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  20. krishna Says:

    Diwali is the festival of lights which is celebrated by lightning small oil lamps or diyas around home, garden, roof and other places. Entrances are made colourful with lovely traditional Rangoli and other decorative items. The celebration of this grand event is incomplete without exchange of sweets and gifts. Nowadays, crackers and fireworks have become indispensable part of celebration.
    Happy Deewali
    http://desidirectory.com/indian-festival-events/Default.asp


  21. Festival wishes to you and your readers

  22. rk Says:

    Thanks Shrinidhi. Wish you too a very Happy Deepavali.

  23. swati Says:

    thanx the image is very beautiful


  24. [...] See the rest here: Deepavali: Festival of Lights « Rambling with Bellur [...]

  25. UmaSuresh Says:

    Deepavaliya harthika shubhashayagalu dear Bellur.First of all “deepagalu” above picture nalli tumba khale khale aagide,loved it,felt so happy.
    I like celebrating this habba the traditional way which includs ‘pataki’ even though I’m not that brave lighting it!


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