Rituals during Deepavali! – Why is an oil bath mandatory on Diwali day?
Deepavali, the festival of lights, is one of everybody’s favorite festivals. Fire crackers burst throughout the night; lamps are lit in every house to drive away strife, and welcome success, enlightenment and hope into this world.
When is Deepavali?
Month : Ashvija or Aipassi / mid-October to mid-November
Paksha : Krishna Paksha
Tithi : Chaturdashi, the day before Ammavasai.
Special purchases and requirements
- New clothes for the whole family, preferably traditional clothes
- Diyas, Jewellery, if affordable
- Sweets to distribute to friends, family and business associate
- Deepavali greeting cards to send out
To prepare the oil for the oil bath
- Sesame oil
- Betel Leaves
- Full black pepper corns
- A little smashed ginger
- A teaspoon of uncooked rice grains
Heat the oil (sesame or coconut oil) and add some bits of betel leaves, full pepper corns, a little smashed ginger and some rice grains. Apply this oil after it has reduced to room temperature.
This oil is applied on each members head by the eldest sumangali of the house. After which the members receive their new clothes and proceed for the bath.
Other things needed for oil bath:
- Natural hair cleanser: seekai
- Turmeric powder to anoint the skin
- fragrant vaasanai podi (a soap substitute)
Unmistakably seekai is used as the hair cleanser on Diwali.
Preferred fruits, Preferred flowers and leaves
Yellow bananas and all other acceptable fruits
Any acceptable flowers or fragrant leaves
Any cherished shlokams
For the oil bath, invoke the great rivers
To do this Chant:
Gangaycha, Yamunaycha, Godavari, Saraswati,
Narmaday, Sindhu, Cauvery, Jalesmin, Sannidhim, Kuru
A platter with betel leaves, betel nuts, yellow bananas and an unbroken coconut
All varieties of homemade sweets and salty snacks
A traditional festival lunch accompanied with lots of sweets. Deepavali lehium is a must. Recipe for Diwali lehium
What do people do on Diwali.
Have an oil bath, akin to a Ganga snaanam.
Light lots of lamps, make a large assortment of sweets and celebrate, wearing new clothes. Tamizh people greet friends and family with ‘Ganga snaanam aacha?’ – Have you cleansed yourself in holy water? People burst Crackers.
Significance of Oil bath
Having an oil bath is considered very important on Deepavali day; it is considered cleansing after the end of a difficult time. The bath is supposed to wash away traces of grief and sorrow that cling to our person when we witness or experience hardship It is also is known to remove all physical traces of negative energy from the body. Hindus believe that such cleansing helps cleanse not only the body but to clear the aura around the person. By symbolically cleansing ourselves of all that is evil and inauspicious, we clear space for the positive and auspicious. This oil is believed to be infused with the grace of Lakshmi and the water, the purity of the river Ganga.
Significance of the Neivedya
The sweets and savories are all symbols of our exuberant and unfettered celebration. The Deepavali lehium is a potent digestive made with gooseberry paste, ghee, and other ingredients that help digest the sumptuous spread/families partake of at the time of this festival.
The first Deepavali for newly married couples is called Thalai Deepavali. Elders’ anoint the couple with a special red mix of chunnam (gypsum) and turmeric paste on their forehead, hands and feet, in a special ceremony called nalangu. The young couple is given gifts of new clothes and jewelry along with sweets and savory treats from their respective in-laws.
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