Today is the last day of the first month of monsoon, Asaādh (अषाढ़). It is the day of “Deep Amaāvasya”. It has rained all over India. A deficit of 5% rainfall is nothing to worry about at this time cause its normal with the rains here. Everyone is busy on the fields. Tilling, ploughing, sowing must have taken place by now. Now the ‘taking care’ phase has started. Taking care of the crops and fields. At the same time, taking care about one’s health and mental state. And hence these four months of monsoon are celebrated with pomp and grandeur in India keeping all aspects of life in mind.
It all started with the Rath Yatra in Jagannathpuri in Orissa. The Lord comes out of his temple to give his devotees His Darshan. He is on a visit to His maternal uncle. The same day “Asaadhi Beej” is also celebrated as the New year in Kutcch.
On the 11th day of this month, the Gods are put to sleep. (Do they sleep? Can we exist without them is another question?) But it is such a beautiful concept of “Sagun Bhakti”. As I sleep, so does my God. And our seers have given a thought about people’s pshycology. The agrarian people will be busy with their work in the fields and will not be able to take care of the rituals associated with God’s. So the best way is to put Them to sleep. In this way, people can just concentrate on their work and give it 100% and at the same time do not feel bad or gulity about not doing their regular rituals and religious practises. (There can be other outlooks too for the same).
Today is the last day of Asadh as celebrated here in Western India. It is the last day of the month. But for the Northern India it is the 15th day of the 2nd month of Chaturmaas ie Shraāvan. (Why so? is another topic of research and study). In Western India, a month begins after Amaāvasya whereas in Northern India, Amaāvasya is in the middle of the month. So it is Amaāvasya (No / New Moon Day) today all around India.
Today is Deep Amaāvasya. The day to clean all the Diyas (earthern lamps) made of copper, steel, silver and gold. (Or any other metal) All the used and the unused Diyas are thoroughly cleaned today. And then in the evening time, they all are lit with rangolis (geometrical design with different colours) drawn around it. The Diyas are then worshipped and offered flowers. And the family members then share sweets with each other.
The worship has its own significance. It is spreading light in our lives and the lives of others too. Light is considered auspicious. It removes the darkness from the outer world and at the same time enlightens the inner self. We, Indians, light a Diya everyday and say the following shlokas invoking the blessings of the Gods :
शुभं करोति कल्याणं आरोग्यं धनसंपदः ।
दीपज्योतिः परब्रह्म दीपज्योति जनार्दनः ।
दीपो हरतु मे पापं
(I bow to the Light, which brings abundance and prosperity of Health, and wealth and which destroys the intelligent enemy [darkness]…
It is you O Light! That is the creator and the operator and you will lead me to light away from sins, so I bow down unto you…)
The Mother Goddess (Shakti) is also symbolised by a burning flame of a diya. Fire helps the mother cook the food. At the same time, they both symbolise energy. And so one of the names of the mother is “Shakti”. Will deal upon it in some later blog.
Lastly am reminded of a short story (or maybe it’s a poem). The Sun is ready to set. The Sun asks everyone in the Universe that who will take his place and give light to the world in his absence? No one answers. A small earthen lamp moves upto him and humbly says, that it might not be as large as the Sun and may not have enough energy to lighten up the world but it will try to lighten up the area around, in which it is kept. This makes the Sun very happy. It signifies the importance of small things in life. However small may one be, with determination one can do the work done by the great ones.
Also I understand the Sun as God and the earthern lamp as Humanity. The Human being promises to be His representation in this Universe and it is his/her responsibility to lighten up the world. So let us all try to be small and humble Diya’s and try to enlighten our lives and the lives of the people around us.
Wish you all a Shubh Deep Amaāvasya.
Tommorrow onwards is the month of Shraāvan. A month of Devotion and Festivals. Naag Panchami, Shitla Saptami, Janmashtami and many others.
Have decided to write a series during these months of monsoon on the different festivals we celebrate. Will write about the known ones and the lesser known ones too as I have done today.