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The Significance of Deepavali

Nov 4, 2010 10:03:58 PM- transcurrents.com

Deepavali is on Nov 5, 2010

by Kandiah Neelakandan

There are two mythological legends associated with Deepavali. The first Deepavali was held to celebrate the return of the Rama, King of Ayodhya, his wife sita and brother Lakshmana to Koshala after a war in which he killed the demon Ravana. It was getting dark, so people along the way lit oil lamps to light their way.

[Saga Varam Arulvai ~ Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathiyar's Song ~ in praise of Rama and Sita ~ in Tamil ~ Featuring pictures from Sri Rama Bakhtha Hanuman Temple, Ramboda, Sri Lanka]

Deepavali, also known as Diwali, is a festival of lights literally means "row or garland of lights". It is symbolic of victory of good over evil, celebrated by most Hindus the world over. It highlights victory of Lord Krishna, one of the deities of the Hindu pantheon, over the Demon King Narakasura. It usually falls on the new moon day in the month of "AIPPASI" (October/November).

Legend has it that Narakasura, the king of demons, had tortured the common folk. After many years of hardship, the people, unable to bear the suffering, appealed to Lord Krishna who then declared war against the demon king. As he lay dying, the demon king begged for mercy from Lord Krishna and he asked that the people rejoice and be merry at the anniversary of his death as a reminder that ultimately evil will never triumph. Little clay lamps were then lighted as a sign of gratitude to Lord Krishna.

Some Hindus believe that Deepavali is celebrated to mark the return of Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana after being banished from Ayodhya by his stepmother for a period of 14 years.

Thousands of our people have been facing various difficulties and harassment in the recent past. Of course it is difficult to erase that unfortunate impression created by the history in the minds of all of us. However, we should on this occasion realize that there are still internally displaced brothers and sisters who are looking forward to establish themselves in their homes. All of us should extend our assistance and help them in that direction.

When the Internally Displaced People arrived in the rehabilitation camps in Vanni, we, All Ceylon Hindu Congress, extended whatever assistance we could to them. We financially helped students who arrived in Universities from the IDP Camps to establish themselves with lump sum donations. We must of course acknowledge the financial support received from Manitha Neyam Trust and London Shri Kanaga Turki Amman Temple and the others.

We are obliged and it is our duty to continue all these services. We expect Hindus living world-wide to assist us and cooperate with us in this noble service we are rendering to our brothers and sisters.

On this occasion we appeal to all Hindus to help our brothers and sisters who have been affected in numerous ways instead of spending monies on celebrations and festivities. Let us not forget that the service to humanity is the real worship to His Almighty

All of us should work towards restoring the economy in the North and East and also to optimize the educational standards in that region as our younger generation can increase their knowledge in keeping with global standards. The Government of Sri Lanka has announced certain action plan. The Government of the Republic of India is already assisting in this task. Let all of us also do whatever we can. At the same time we urge that steps be taken to ensure our younger generation do not forget their spiritual and cultural values and they should be educated on those values and steps should be taken to save them from the unfortunate effects of the so called "modern world" which has the effect of destroying our spiritual and educational values.

It is significant that on the day after Deepavali the SKANDASASDI FAST commences. The fast continues for six days. The legend of Skandasasdi fast is almost the same principle that His Almighty is always there to protect us by removing evils. Lord Muruga’s act of slaying of Suran who was depicted as an evil demon is also for the devotees to realize that His Almighty will always protect us from all evils.

(Kandiah Neelakandan is General Secretary, All Ceylon Hindu Congress)