Any festival in India consists of rituals which directly or indirectly teach the society how to remain happy and healthy.
The process of the spiritual yagna in Hinduism begins from the first day of Navratri on Amavasya and ends up on Diwali, again on Amavasya.
The first 10 days of this yagna involve intense spiritual practice and the remaining 20 days entail receiving its benefits.
The first nine days, called Navratri, are devoted to a process of purification and detoxification of mind, body and soul.
During this period a person is required to lead a Satvik spiritual life devoting first three days into activities, which reduce negativity in the mind and the body. Thinking differently, thinking positively and thinking opposite is how the negativity in the mind can be reduced.
In the next three days, he should practice positive behavior and in the last three days he should read and learn about spiritual positive things in life.
The spiritual purification process involves eating only Satvik food, one which is offered to God, and following the principles of Satwik lifestyle, which are Satvik Ahaar, Satvik Vichar, Satvik Vyavahaar and Satvik Achaar. There is a custom of worshiping wheat and barley grass during this period. They are detoxifying grasses when consumed in the form of juices. The Satvik fast observed during this period helps in internal cleansing of the body.
Upon completion of this 9-day purification process, the person starts getting the benefits on the tenth day symbolized as Vijayadashmi or dusshera, when one gains victory over Tamas (Kumbhakaran), Rajas (Meghnad) and Ego (Ravana). Victory over the ego entails the ruling of Satwa (Vibhishan) and reunion of Mind (Lakshamana), Body (Sita) and Soul (Rama).
As per the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, when one attains an ego-free mind, then one is likely to get benefits over a period of time.
The first benefit is seen on the fourth day after Vijayadashmi, on Sharad Purnima. Kheer is traditionally prepared on this day and is kept under the moonlight because moon rays have healing properties. Moon is closest to the earth on Sharad Purnima
Four days later, on the day of karva chauth when married women pray for long life of their husbands, one gets the benefit of the longevity of the spouse, which gives safety to the family.
Four days later on “hoi ashtami”, one prays for the longevity of their children. This ensures protection for the family in their old age.
Then, four days later on “dhanteras”, one gets the benefit of wealth. On this days people worship silver items. On this day, no dealings are done and people spend only to invest in silver and gold items for the future needs of the family.
By this time the person, who has undergone the process of purification, learns the true purpose of his or her existence. The inner ignorance and darkness goes away and one learns the true meaning of wealth and that is inner happiness (spiritual knowledge). The day this happens is called Diwali, when on the day of Amavasya (darkness) one gets internal lighting (Diwali).
These three phases of purification are symbolized as worshiping the Goddess Kali, Laxmi and Saraswati, respectively.
Diwali, therefore, is a one-month long spiritual Yagna, from Amavasya to Amavasya, with 9 days of purification and 21 days of acquiring spiritual benefits out of it.
Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Immediate Past National President IMA