Diwali, Festival of Light and the New Moon

Today’s New Moon marks the main day of India’s epic festival Diwali or Deepavali, known as ‘The Festival of Lights.’ “Deepa” means light and “avali” means a continuous line. Diwali occurs just before the Indian New Year.  In India, puja (ritual worship), gift-giving and many shining oil lamps signify the victory over darkness within and the radiant awareness of one’s own inner light. This festival day always falls yearly on a dark Moon as the days become shorter, a time when rituals that invoke brightness, warmth and abundance are mentally balancing, uplifting and naturally timely.

Lord Rama

Lord Rama

Diwali celebrates Lord Rama’s return back home after a 14 year period of exile. The residents of Ayodhya (I-yo-the-yah) celebrated his homecoming by lighting rows and rows of lights, or diyas, and waving sparklers. Rama symbolizes the path of righteousness or dharma.  His return is a metaphor for the victory of good over evil. He performed his duty, stayed true to his path, and triumphantly returned home.  Diwali marks the celebration of light over darkness, as Rama was victorious in defeating the demon Ravana prior to his return to Ayodhya.  

Goddess Lakshmi

Goddess Lakshmi

Diwali lasts for a total of five days. Today’s main and final day is dedicated to Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity, generosity and beauty. Traditional elements of Deepavali celebrations that invoke and attract Lakshmi’s bountiful presence include visiting with family and community, giving to charity, the sharing ofsweets, beautifying personal adornment and wearing brand new clothes, cleaning the home and the lighting of lamps by the open threshold of one’s festively decorated front door to allow Lakshmi to enter one’s home effortlessly .

Indians celebrate Diwali by wearing colorful, new clothes..  Their homes are brightly lit with clay diyas.  Homes are cleaned from top to bottom so that Lakshmi can grace the home with her presence.  People feast on a sumptuous variety of sweets made from ingredients such as brown sugar, jaggery, saffron, along withghee (clarified butter), as well as cardamom, powdered cinnamon, nuts, and rose water.

The exact time of the New Moon in sidereal Libra in Swati Nakshatra takes place on Sunday, October 30th at 1:37 PM EST.  

Tonight is a good time to darken all the lights and illuminate your dwelling place with intentional light.  Meditate on light emerging from the darkness within.  As the reflective lunar light goes dark, Diwali is a time when we can honor our own inner light and let it shine forth into the world.