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Vak Devi Sarasvatii


वाक् देवि सरस्वति

deep at deepavali

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Also known as Diwali.

Dīpāvalī as told in Śāstra1

According to the Vrata Cūḍāmaṇī, dīpāvalī is described in the following works :

  • Bhaviṣyat Purāṇam
  • Smṛti Darpaṇam
  • Linga Purāṇam
  • as told by Nārada (various works?)
  • as told by Vālakhilya (various works?)

Bhaviṣyat Purāṇam says :

  • On night of Kārtīka (month) kṛṣna caturdaśī – light lamps in honour of Yama
  • And take bath

which is being followed in various forms as part of Dīpāvalī across India.

Smṛti Darpaṇam says :

  • On the morning of Āśvayuja (month) kṛṣna caturdaśī & svātī nakṣatra take bath after applying scented sesame oil.
  • On dīpāvalī day, lakṣmī is present in the sesame oil & gaṅgā is present in the hot water.

Linga Purāṇam says :

  • On dīpāvalī, during the day provide food for all and give away lamps to individuals.

Nārada adds :

  • As part of the morning bath, do tarpaṇam to Yama

Vālakhilya adds :

  • Take bath with three kinds of plants – apāmārga[Tamil: nāiyuruvi], tumbī [Tamil: Sorakkāi] , prapunnṭa [allium cepa-lium]. One for each day.
  • Even persons with father alive should do tarpaṇam to Yama
  • Feast would include sesame, vada & vegetables
  • Light lamp for three days (dīpāvalī day and the next two days)
  • Lighting lamps would show the way for ones ancestors to move from narakam to svargam.
  • After Vāmana placed his third step on Mahabali and sent him to Pātāla, Mahabali was granted a wish. Mahabali asked that three days be designated as days of his rule on earth. These three days being the dīpāvalī day and the next two days.

(the connection with Mahabali could explain the non-celebration of Dīpāvalī in Kerala, considered to be Mahabali’s capital region.)

  • During the night, light lamps at temples, and other public places

Dīpāvalī in 1950s in a village in Kāverī delta

I asked my pāttī2 what was it like to celebrate dīpāvalī in our native village (Pākkam Parutiyūr) in the 1950s. Here is a paraphrase of what she said :
A few days before dīpāvalī, new clothes would be bought. Crackers would be ordered and delivered at home. A Tātā from Nāḍāguḍi (nearby village) would come to make Pakṣanam [sweets and savouries] for the occassion. The Pakṣanam menu included Kuñjālādu, Mohan Lādu, Porulaṅgāi Urunḍai, Mysore Pāk, Jilebi, Goduma Halwa (among sweets); Theṅguzhal, Kārābūndi (among savouries).

The day before dīpāvalī, new clothes, crackers & Sessame oil will be distributed to all inhabitants of the village. Crackers would be burst till 10pm in the night. After a few hours cracker bursting would resume at around 2am on the dīpāvalī morning. Then Sītālakṣmī pāttī [her mother-in-law – the eldest in the family] would give sessame oil [which would be heated with spices] massage to all members of the family. The vennīr aduppu [the stove fuelled by wood to heat water for bathing] would have been decorated with kolam. The vennīr tavalai [the brass pot used for heating the water] would be decorated with sandanam and kuṅkumam. The elders would bathe all children in the hot water and they would bathe themselves. After bath, new clothes are worn, Pakṣanams eaten and crackers burst. Crackers start getting burst two days earlier and goes on for another 4-5 days. Lunch is with Vada & Pāyasam. (Vada Pāyasattoḍu Sāppāḍu)

  1. As told over phone by my Guru Śrī Bālājī Śarmā. His hobby is to read Purāṇa literature. So whenever I need to know of something in the Purāṇa, I am a phone call away from an answer.
  2. Śrīmatī Gnānāmbāl, 85 years in 2010.

An animated story behind Deepavali with audio in Telugu. (13:42m)

The Rig Veda is one of the oldest religious te...

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I love Veda. I am involved with a Vedic School. I would like to blog on my experiences in running the Vedic School. This school is located near Kumbakonam.

I am also interested in Smriti, Puranas and history of traditions.

I have written a couple of articles on Indian festivals. One article on Deepavali and the other on Sivaratri. For each of them I have tried to list what Puranas say about the festival and how it was celebrated 50 years back in a village in the Kaveri Delta.

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