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Deepavali, the festival of Lights is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of ‘Ashwin’ of the Indian lunar Calendar. It usually falls in late October or early November.

Deepavali or Diwali, the most pan-Indian of all Hindu festivals, is a festival of lights symbolizing the victory of righteousness over evil and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The word ‘Deepavali’ literally means ‘rows of lamps’. The lamp is not merely the symbol of knowledge of Truth, but also of the one Atma (spirit) that shines in all.

Legend has it that it was on this day the demon ‘Narakasura’ was vanquished and 16000 Gopikas (cowherd maidens devoted to Lord Krishna) who were held in captivity were freed from the clutches of the demon by Lord Krishna. To mark the end of gloom and sadness, the Gopikas celebrated the occasion by lighting lamps and bursting crackers and fireworks.

Excerpts from Bhagawan’s Discourses:

“Today is the day on which Naraka, the demon was killed. What does this event signify? It signifies killing the demon in man. 'Nara' means man and 'Asura' means demon. This demon is present in every human being. It is not necessary to acquire great weapons to kill this demon. Man is called 'Nara' because there is Atma (spirit) in him. That Atma is the embodiment of love. It is possible to kill the demons only through love. Therefore, realize the Atma Tathva and develop love. This is true Bhakti (devotion)”.

- Divine Discourse: November 4, 2002

"The flame of a lamp has two significant qualities. One is to banish darkness; the other is a continuous upward movement. Even if a lamp is kept in a pit, the flame is directed upwards. The ancients have taught that the upward movement of the flame denotes the path to wisdom and the path to divinity. However, the external light can dispel only the external darkness, but not the darkness of ignorance in man.

When Narakasura was killed all those who suffered under him were overjoyed. Having led a life of darkness till then, both internally and externally, they celebrated the occasion by lighting lamps. There is significance in lighting lamps. The flame of one lamp can light the whole array of lamps. That one lamp symbolizes the Parama Jyothi (supreme effulgence). The others symbolize the Jeevana Jyothis (light in individual selves). Deepavali is celebrated in order to teach this truth to the world. People celebrate this festival by bursting firecrackers signifying the victory of good over evil.

The inner meaning underlying the Bharatiya festivals should be rightly understood. On each festival day, people have a sacred bath early in the morning and wear new clothes, keep their houses and surroundings clean. Thus the festivals teach us the importance of internal and external cleanliness. The Vedas declare, "Anthar Bahischa Tat Sarvam Vyapya Narayana Stithaha", God is present within and around. So, one has to be pure both internally and externally. It is the water that helps to keep your body clean. But it is love that keeps your heart clean. You should celebrate the festivals in full realization of their inner significance”.

- Divine Discourse: October 19, 1998

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