Diwali is a beautiful celebration, also known as the Festival of Lights. The word Diwali comes from the word Deepa (lamp) and Avali (a row), and signifies a row of lights. Spiritually, the rows of lights represent not just the essence of light in our lives, but also gives us time to reflect on all that is good in life. The mythical origin stories all point to the importance of knowledge, self-inquiry and seeking the right path in life. It is a time to illuminate one's inner light - the light of knowledge , compassion and joy. In the context of yoga, a light (or flame) is used to describe our awareness.
The festival is observed for 5 days every autumn, celebrating the joys of a bountiful harvest. People clean their houses, decorate the houses with colorful art (rangoli) and clay lamps, cook a variety of sweets and savory treats, wear festive clothing, exchange gifts and sweets with family and friends, burst firecrackers, and perform prayers to thank the universal source for the harvest. Each day of the 5-day festival has a special thought or ideal attached to it.
The first day is known as Dhanteras, the Dhan meaning “wealth”; on this day prosperity is celebrated. The second day is known as Narak Chaturdasi – on this day it is said the goddess Kali and Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasaru and freed the world from its evil power. The third day – this year on 24th October – is the new moon day and most important day of Diwali, when the goddess Lakshmi is celebrated. The fourth day marks Lord Krishna’s defeat of Indra, the god of thunder and rain. The final day of Diwali celebrations is known as Bhai Duj; it celebrates the love between sisters and brothers.
The traditions which dedicate Diwali to Lakshmi focus on the connection between Diwali, the harvest, and nature.
Lakshmi and her true meaning:
Lakshmi is the daughter of mother Durga. Lakshmi herself is a mother goddess. She is addressed as Mata meaning "mother" rather than “Devi” (Goddess). Her name comes from the word Lakshya, meaning "aim" or "goal". She is one of the many forms of shakti or feminine energy. Lakshmi provides all kinds of abundance like wealth, happiness, beauty, and splendor. She gives, protects, and nourishes. She is a source of strength. It is said that she gives based on devotion and karma. She also protects from bad health, difficulties, and misfortune. People often worship Lakshmi at home for good luck.
She has four hands, representing dharma, (righteousness) kama (desires), artha (wealth), and moksha (freedom from the cycle of rebirth), and is typically seated on an 8-petaled lotus.
In two of her hands, she is holding 2 lotuses, and in the other 2 hands, she is creating 2 mudras: Abhaya (assurance) mudra and Varada (giving) mudra. She is usually dressed in red or gold, and has long, wavy hair. Often, two elephants are by her side, anointing her with water. Lakshmi is Lord Vishnu's wife and companion.
Cultivating abundance and calling the return of Lakshmi into our lives is a matter of recognizing her gifts that we might be taking for granted. Perhaps these are your own inner gifts, our abilities and capabilities that we are born with and grew within us over years. Consider the gifts of health, wellness, joyful movement, and daily nourishment. Remember the gifts of the natural world: the vibrant greens, vast blues, the rivers and oceans that support all life. These are all expressions of Lakshmi in our world. If we choose to continue to honor her she will remain with us. She will continue to bestow her infinite blessings that sustain us to thrive.
Some yogic practices that you can follow around this time of Diwali:
Mindfully observing the abundance of gifts around you that nature has given to us.
Understand the art of giving and receiving… try to offer help to someone in need and say yes when help is offered.
Meditating by focusing on the flame on the candle or clay lamp.
While wealth and good fortune are wonderful gifts to receive, without gratitude, generosity, love, and appreciation of beauty, even enormous wealth will leave us with the feeling of lack. Indulge in writing a gratitude letter thanking her for all the wonderful gifts you have.
During asana, invoke Lakshmi by cultivating qualities of femininity, fertility, abundance, and gentleness. Don’t forget to include some Hip Opening poses which helps in deepening Lakshmi’s connection within our physical bodies in sacral chakra or solar plexus
Chanting OM mantra with Padma (Lotus) Mudra:
Bring your hands to prayer. Keep the heels of your hands together along with the thumbs and little fingers; blossom open the three middle fingers of each hand. Lotus (Padma) Mudra invokes a feeling of expansiveness and love in the heart. Repeat several times, preferably 108 times.
This Sunday, October 23rd 2022 in our Morning Mantra and Meditation at 8:15am, we will be practicing a meditation to cultivate abundance by invoking the powerful Lakshmi mantra. Come join me