Dev Diwali: When gods light lamps in celebration


By Nithin Sridhar

Diwali is a well-known festival celebrated by the Hindus across the world. It is the day when men and women light the lamps and make merriment. But it is little known that even our gods celebrate their own Diwali wherein they light the lamps and make merriment, just like us.

This ‘Dev Diwali’ or ‘Deva-Deepavali’ falls on the full moon of the month of Kartika of Hindu calendar. This year, it has fallen on this day, i.e. November 25. The day is also called as Kartika Poornima or Tripurari Poornima.

According to the Puranas and other traditional accounts, When Lord Vishnu had taken Vamana Avatar and made Demon King Bali to give up his kingdom and return to Patala (lower realms below earthly realm), Bali asked Vamana to stay with him in Patala. Later, it is said that Goddess Lakshmi had to request King Bali to return her husband. It is on this day, that Vamana i.e. Lord Vishnu returned back to his abode, causing various Devas (gods) to rejoice and celebrate.

According to another account, it was on this day of Kartika Poornima, that Lord Shiva killed the trio of demons called as Tripurasura. As the account goes, the three sons of Tarakasura- Vidyunmali, Tarakaksha, and Viryavana performed severe austerity and got as boon three cities- one made of gold, one of silver, and one of iron. The boon was that they could be killed only when the three cities come into a single alignment once in 1000 years and it should be destroyed with a single arrow.

As times went on, the demons prospered and slowly started to neglect their Dharma (duty). As a result, Dharma (righteousness) declined and Adharma (unrighteousness) increased. Finally, Lord Shiva, on Kartika Poornima, destroyed the Tripuras (three-cities) with a single arrow. Hence, Shiva is known as Tripurantaka (killer of Tripurasura) and the day has become famous as ‘Tripurari Poornima’. The gods rejoiced the victory of Dharma over Adharma by lighting the lamps.

In yet another account, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Matsya Avatara (Fish) to save the world on this day. Hence, from all these accounts it is clear that the day is very auspicious for worship.

Like many other Hindu festivals that celebrate the victory of Dharma over Adharma, this day of Kartika Poornima is also associated with the re-establishment of Dharma.

This festival is deeply connected to Varanasi where it is celebrated in a grand manner. The devotees make a dip in the River Ganga called as ‘Kartika Snana’ and worship the Goddess Ganga. They light hundreds of lamps on the Ghats adjoining the Ganga during the evening. A procession of idols of various deities is also carried out on the city streets.

The famous Pushkar fair in Pushkar held in the honor of Lord Brahmaa also ends on this day. Karthika Poornima is also the last day when the marriage of Tulasi (Tulasi Vivaha) can be performed. The day is considered holy by Jains and Sikhs as well.