Why South Indians celebrate Deepavali before North Indians? 

Why South Indians celebrate Deepavali before North Indians? 

Usually the South Indian calendar is known for celebrating Deepavali before others do. Deepavali is usually a 3 to 5-days festival, around many states, in India. In Mauritius, officially it is a one-day celebration. But unofficially, it would be a 2 to 3 days celebration. But this leads to lots of confusion with regards to when and why to celebrate Deepavali.

In North India, Deepavali is celebrated to honour Lord Rama. When the people of Ayodhya heard that Lord Rama is coming back after defeating Raavana over 14 years of exile, they decorated the whole city with lighted lamps, rangolis and flowers to welcome him. So, North Indians celebrate Deepavali to mark this victory.

In South India, Deepavali is celebrated in honour of Lord Krishna who slayed Narakasura. This day is known as Naraka Chaturdasi.It is the day before north Indians celebrate Deepavali. Hence, the day after Naraka Chaturdasiis Amavasya and north Indian celebrates Deepavali. It should be noted that South Indian will also honour Lakshmi on this day of amavasya to bring prosperity, wealth and inner light. But the Vaishnava community (inclined towards Lord Vishnu) will celebrate in honour of Lord Krishna only.

The south Indians will bath with oil symbolically to please Lord Krishna who took an oil bath to clean the bloodstain after he slayed Narakasura.

In the past, during my childhood, I heard few people explaining that south Indian take oil bath or celebrate before north Indian because they have to mourn for the death of Raavana. This is absolute misinterpretation of Hindu philosophy. No portion of the Hindu community worship asuraor devil. Is it so because some believe that king Raavana was Tamilian? So far, I have not come across this description in any text. Is it so because he was the King of Lanka? Now, was Lanka the same as the actual Sri Lanka? So many questions aren’t?

In Bengal and other parts of east India, where large portion of the population is inclined towards the worship of Shakti, Deepavali is celebrated differently. Kali pooja is observed and celebrated with much pomp and pride; and Dhanteras is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight).

During the same Deepavali festival, the Tamil Shaiva community (who honour only Shiva) celebrates Kedara Gowri. The Kedara Gowri (Nombu) is called as such because it was Gowri (Parvati) who observed the spiritual vow to obtain half body of Shiva. Shiva insisted that any spiritual practice without Shakti does not produce the divine energy. Kedara Gowri viratham (Vrata) Day is the day on which Siva emerged as Ardhanaareeswara, symbolizing the union of Shiva and Shakti.

Shiva and Shakti are the life force and mental force. It is the Prana Shakti and Manas Shakti, which are the two fundamental creators. Any object in the universe is composed of these two kinds of shakti or energy. Now, when these two energies interact, creations are unfolded. When they are separated, creation is dissolved.

In yoga, the life force and mental force is compared to Shiva and Shakti. In physics, it is matter and energy. If you look closely you will understand that whatever you do, think or act need to be balanced. If the life force is higher than the mental force there is no harmony. When Prana shaktiis predominant and manas (mental) shakti is subservient, you will find people becoming angry, violent and aggressive. There is chaos.

The nature of the celebrations may differ but the goal is the same. The asura that was killed by Krishna, the victory of Rama over Raavana, the worship of Kali to erase darkness and the worship of Shiva to balance life force and mental force have all the same esoteric signification. They all stand up to celebrate for the same progressive spiritual achievement, i.e Knowledge over Ignorance; Change over Resistance; King Soul over King Ego and Light over Darkness.

Nanda Narrainen

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