Diwali (or Deepavali in Sanskrit) means “a row of lights”.
This five-day festival is India’s biggest celebration. It is observed by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists. Diwali symbolises the “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.” Light is used as a metaphor for knowledge and consciousness.
On a personal level, Diwali is a time for silent introspection. It is a time to contemplate and dispel our own darkness and personal demons and to define our highest goals for the future.
The actual night of Diwali is celebrated on a very significant date – it’s the night before Amavasya (the new moon) in the month of Kartik. This means that Diwali is celebrated on the night when there is no moon in the sky – the darkest night. In ancient Indian culture – irrespective of religious beliefs – Amavasya was considered a time of immense power. This is related to the fact that the days before the new moon, are days when the moon has the smallest effect on earth. Now we know how the moon affects the tides. Even though we do not understand the actual mechanism behind it – it is known that the moon has an effect on human and animal behaviour. Hospital admissions, suicides and accident are known to be high during full moon. If we pay attention, we all experience a little craziness around the full moon. Hence when the effect of the moon is at its lowest, we can experience great clarity and power. If you know how to harness this power – you are able to dispel darkness and ignite your full potential. Hence the 2 days before and 2 days after Amavasya are important too – giving rise to the 5-day festivities of Diwali.
Day 1 – is known as Dhan Teras.
“Dhan” – something of value and “Teras” – to acquire. Hence Dhan Teras translates as ‘to acquire something of value’.
The celebration on this day begins at sunset – where a single lamp is lit to symbolise the awakening of knowledge. This is a contemplative period – where we begin to reflect on what is of value to us.
Unfortunately, in modern times this original purpose has been distorted. In the age of commerce – people buy material goods on this day, usually made of metal such as gold jewellery, pots, pans or cars. The idea behind buying goods made of metal stems from the original purpose of the day – that things of value are those that endure.
Day 2 – is known as Narak Chaturdasi.
“Narak” means darkness and Narak Chaturdasi is the day to cleanse and dispel darkness. On this day, one arises early – massages the body with oil and engages in cleansing and reflexive practices. It is a day of silent contemplation where one releases what is no longer required.
Unfortunately, in modern times the meaning of this day is distorted too. Instead of letting go of what is no longer serving you, it has become a day of giving gifts.
Day 3 – Diwali – rows of light.
This is the day you affirm and honour the light that shines within you. It is a day of affirmation, where you set your intentions and create a workable plan. During this time of power, where the moon has the least effect on the earth – you can achieve great clarity and purpose if you follow the appropriate practices during day 1 and 2.
Day 4 – is known as Bestu Baras – New Beginnings.
It is celebrated as the New Year in Gujarat, India. This is the time to put your new goals and plans into action. It’s the day when you may develop your strategy or begin to roll out your plan. However, you look at it – it’s a day of implementing the new.
Day 5 – is known as Bhai Dhooj.
This is the day when brothers and sisters meet each other. Its significance lies in meeting family and friends whom you can depend on. It is about reconnecting with those who will support you in achieving your purpose. In modern times we may think of this as the time to connect with your tribe, your friends, your supporters, the people who have got your back and will support your endeavours.
Special Significance of Diwali
For me, the five days of Diwali have always been very powerful and significant. I honour the ancient practices and rituals to review, reflect and renew my highest goals. Because of the natural forces at play during this period – little efforts result in large yields.
Over the last few years I have been sharing my Diwali practice and the power of this period with friends and retreatants. I am glad to be doing the same this year at the:
Diwali 2019 – starts on Friday 25 October and ends on Tuesday 29 October – with the main day being Sunday 27 October. Our retreat runs over the first 3 days so we may benefit from the power of nature during this auspicious period.
May the light of Diwali shine within you and illuminate your world.Dr Nitasha buldeo
Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you programs that enable you to unlock your personal genius.
Nitasha’s yoga training began in childhood and she has been trekking into the Himalayan peaks to meet her teachers and to teach for over 25 years. Her wisdom on traditional yoga and meditation practices is immense. Her personal practice is one of dedication, perseverance and humility.
She is a Senior Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance Professionals and leads Yoga training and retreats globally.