Deepavali for South Indians

If you want to know why people of south Indian origin celebrate Deepavali before those of north Indian origin you have to understand what do they celebrate. Most of the celebrations of Hindu festivals have mythological background of demon slaying. In India, Deepavali is celebrated for different reasons but the spiritual rationale converges.

In Mauritius, we belong to the fourth or fifth generation of Indian origin people who have been celebrating Deepavali; but still a few would set confusion with regards to when and why to celebrate.

In my tender age and childhood I listened to a few people who explained that people of south Indian origin usually take oil bath or celebrate before people of north Indian origin because they have to mourn for the death of Ravana. The belief, from a few, is that Deepavali is to mourn for Ravana because it appears that Ravana who got killed by Ram, was of south Indian origin. So they have to mourn for their lost one! If Lanka, as described in Ramayana, was not Sri Lanka I wondered how Ravana was a south Indian or precisely Tamil. This is absolute misinterpretation of mythology. No portion of the Hindu community worship asura or the devil side of any deity or demi-god.

In South India, Deepavali is celebrated in honour of Lord Krishna for the slaying of the demon known as Narakasura. As per the established panchagam, Naraka Chaturdasi usually falls on the day before Deepavali is celebrated by people of North Indian origin. The day after Naraka Chaturdasi is amavasya (no moon) and the North Indians celebrate Deepavali. South Indians will also honour Lakshmi on this day of amavasya to bring prosperity, wealth and inner light. In India, Deepavali is celebrated over 3 days, i.e from (Naraka) Chaturdasi to Amavasya.

In India, the South Indians will bath with oil symbolically to please Lord Krishna who took an oil bath to clean the blood stain after he slayed Narakasura.

But in short, Deepavali is about the celebration of the God’s victory over asura. In spiritual terms, it is the victory of our good qualities over bad habits, vices and wrong doings.

Nanda Narrainen

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