Deepavali as we all know is a festival of lights. If I combine it with the festival of Navaratri, while Navaratri symbolizes the dusk (sandhi) of Deva loka, Deepavali symbolizes the beginning of the long night of Deva Loka.
Refer to my blog on Navaratri
Navaratri is celebrated as continuous nine days of pooja to the goddess Amba (Durga) in our Planet Earth, similar to the performance of SandhyaVandhan in Deva Loka.
As a long night begins in Deva Loka, lamps are lit in Planet Earth. The festival of lamps is celebrated for one month in Planet Earth (during the month of Karthika) by placing lit lamps in the night in front of the homes. This time of one month of Planet Earth corresponds to two hours of Deva Loka time.
Several scriptures including Ramayana talk about people celebrating Deepavali festival for one month, during the Karthika month, in which people lit lamps outside their home at night.
This time of Deepavali also coincides with Rama returning to Ayodhi after vanquishing Ravana. Rama is said to have vanquished Ravana with the blessings of Durga during the time of Navaratri and returned to his kingdom during the festival month of Deepavali.
Later on people started associating Deepavali itself with the return of Ram to his kingdom. But Ramayana is clear that people were celebrating Deepavali and Rama returned to his kingdom during that time.
Naraka Chaturdasi – The first day of Deepavali
Actually what we all celebrate is the beginning of ‘season’ of Deepavali. Deepavali begins with Naraka Chaturdasi and Naraka Chaturdasi gets celebrated as Deepavali.
Naraka Chaturdasi is the day on which Naraka was slayed by Krishna in the Kingdom of Pragjyotisha or Kamarupa.
In each incarnation Lord Vishnu is supposed to fight off ignorance and darkness and evolves intelligence by one more step in all biological beings.
In Matsya he moved the small fish to big fish. In Koorma he moved the fish from water to koorma of land. In Varaha he started the animal kingdom with Boar. In Nrsimha he evolved the first generation human beings (probably Neanderthals). In Vamana, he evolved the first intelligent human beings (Homonids). In Parasurama he established the knowledge civilization amongst human beings. In Rama he established the law and order that would become the corner-stone of human evolution. In Balarama, he evolved the society to the landed gentry (business community), which holds the reins of society till today. In Krishna, he evolved human intelligence to next level in management and balanced thinking. In Kalki he would evolve the human intelligence to the highest level, the level of complete self-realization.
War on Naraka – Oppression, Courage and Pardon
The war on Naraka was started by Satyabhama and Krishna assisted her. The legend is that Naraka oppressed women in his kingdom and hence Satyabhama went on war with Naraka.
Naraka’s kingdom was in the east of India (Pragjoythisa, somewhere in Assam) and Satyabhama’s kingdom was in the west of India (Dwaraka). Naraka was happy in his forts, thinking he would never have to answer anybody in life for his oppression of women in his society.
But Satyabhama reached across from west to east. Naraka had to answer her war call and lost almost everything in the war including Mura, his beloved brother.
Still at the time of his death, he pardoned Krishna. With this act he entered the hearts of all people. People started celebrating Narakas death as their own Pithru’s (ancestor) death. Oil bath and new clothes are the usual method of remembrance for pithru’s (ancestors)
Naraka symbolized oppression but also pardon. Satyabhama and Krishna symbolized courage to challenge oppression. Krishna symbolizes the togetherness of a family between husband and wife, where he takes up the fight for the cause of women and his wife.
Deepavali – To remember those who feel oppressed
Hence Deepavali is all about courage to challenge oppression and pardon. It is about equality of human beings amongst themselves and between the genders. It is an occasion to remember those who feel oppressed in the society.
It is a festival for entire society as everyone needs to have the courage to challenge oppression. Everyone needs to have the ability to pardon our perceived enemies, even if the fight has been bitter.
Hence Deepavali is being celebrated with lot of philanthropy, gifts, sweets and happiness.
But to all those who have been able to receive better things from society, Deepavali is a reminder that there are those who have not been able to receive that much and who feel oppressed by the society.
And they cannot live in seclusion in their own forts of happiness thinking that challenges to oppression will never reach them, It also reminds them if they get vanquished, they need to pardon their victors for the sake of everlasting happiness.
And to those who feel oppressed deepavali reminds that they need the courage to challenge oppression and if they do that they can win the war, even if they have to cross a thousand miles.