Symbols of Diwali

The Festival of lights is just round the corner and it would be interesting to learn about the significance of symbols related to Diwali so that the auspicious occasion is celebrated with the right spirit.

Significance of Shubh Labh and Swatika symbols

The Swastika is symbolic of Lord Ganesha. Before taking up new initiatives, a tribute is paid to the Lord. The Swastika symbol is often found at the entrance of business establishments and even on accounts books in India. One of the avatars of Ganesha was married to Riddhi and Siddhi. The lines on either side of the Swastika symbol represent the two consorts of the Lord. Shubh (meaning Good) and Labh (Profit) are the sons of the Lord.

Significance of Rangoli

It’s that time of the year when colours adorn the threshold of your abode and you spend hours making your rangoli look beautiful. But have you ever really wondered why rangolis form an essential part of festive celebrations in India?

Well, in Hinduism, every religious tradition or gesture is symbolic of a deeper meaning. Rangolis are not meant for mere beautification of the house but are supposed to prevent evil from entering the home.

Here’s an explanation to support the age old belief and practice.

Both positive and negative energy dwell in the atmosphere. They seek refuge as and when they are provoked by us. The saying ‘You reap as you sow’ aptly fits into this situation. The reason why we say we must think positive is because we tend to invite positivity by thinking constructively and being optimistic. Negative thinking is never straight.

Rangoli designs always look complicated and now you will know why. The negativity that is in the air gets entangled in the complexity of the rangoli design and fails to enter the house. Hence rangolis absorb evil and prevent negativity from harming us. They also remind us to keep thinking positively, so that we can make our lives prosperous.

Traditional rangolis were made of rice powder and with time, people started using variety of colours. Many aren’t aware of the principle of `Vasudaiva kutumbakam` in Sanatana Dharma (Hindusim) meaning `the whole world is one big family`, and the concept of ‘live and let live’. The reason why our predecessors used rice powder was to feed birds, insects and the other lives that thrive in the soil.

And this Diwali, when you put rangoli, remember you are not adding to the decorations of your house but also making your house an epicenter of positive energy. Also try using natural colours so that you do not end up harming your skin and the uninvited guests who quietly eat away your rangoli!

Significance of a Diya

A diya or an earthen lamp is synonymous to the festival of Deepavali or Diwali. Diyas adorn every corner of the house on this very auspicious day and add light and brightness to the festive spirit which is accompanied by a number of delicacies to gorge on, bright and new clothes to wear, splash of rangoli on the floor and above all a time for families and friends to get together.

As we all know, Deepavali meaning ‘row of lamps (Deepon ki avali), is celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil.

The people of Ayodhya had welcomed the return of Lord Ram, his consort Sita and brother Lakshman, who were in exile for 14 long years.

Lord Ram, Lakshman, Lord Hanuman and an army of monkey, under the leadership of Vanar Raj Sugreeva had defeated Ravana, the king of Lanka who had abducted Sita. And that signified the triumph of good over evil.

However, there’s something more symbolic about the diyas orjyot. Most Hindu households often light a diya once every morning and in the evening. It’s not just a customary practice but signifies the submission of one’s soul to the supreme power.

The oil in the diya represents the dirt (greed, jealousy, hatred, lust etc) that humans tend to nurture while the cotton wick is symbolic of the aatman (self). So in order to attain enlightenment and unite with the Brahman (the supreme power), one must get rid of materialism. A diya emits light when the wick fuelled by oil burns.

Moreover, a Diya also symbolises knowledge. An ignorant person would often remain in dark and wouldn’t be able to keep a check on the events happening around him. It is only when he feels the need to gain some knowledge that he will realise the purpose of his existence. And hence in this case, a diya/jyot signifies the removal of ignorance through knowledge.

The following mantra in Sanskrit throws light on the path one must adopt to attain peace and it highlights the importance of jyoti (light):

Asato maa sad-gamaya (Lead us from Untruth to Truth)
Tamaso maa jyotir-gamaya (From Darkness to Light)
Mrityor-maa-mritan gamaya (From Death to Immortality)
OM shaanti shaanti shaanti (Om peace, peace peace)

So, a Diya doesn’t merely represent a decorative item but reminds one and all to give up their materialistic desires, defeat their ignorance by gaining knowledge if they wish to merge with God.