Diwali in light of Ayurveda
Diwali is one of the most favorite festivals of India. The name Diwali or Deepavali means “row of lights.” So it is called as “festival of lights.” Diwali is celebrated to share the joy when Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya after defeating demon Ravana, Lord Krishna killed demon Narkasura. This signifies the celebration of victory of good over evil.
We celebrate Diwali by cleaning and decorating house, lighting lamps, with worships and prayers, eating sweets and snacks and enjoying time with family and friends.
These traditions of celebrating each festival are based on an ancient science, Ayurveda to nurture health, peace and happiness.
Ayurveda is the most ancient natural holistic science originated 5000yrs before in India. It is not only medical science but it is a way of living. According to Ayurveda we are a part of universe which is formed by 5 basic elements (Panchamahabhutas).Doshas are biological forces or functional units of Panchamahabhutas that govern all body and mind functions. Vata energy represents Ether and air principle and responsible for all movements in body and mind. Pitta (fire and water) governs digestion and metabolism and Kapha (earth and water) governs strength and immunity.
We are in balanced state as long as we have harmonious relationship with nature. Ayurveda recommends following daily routine (Dina charya) and making changes in diet and lifestyle according to season (Ritu charya) to cope up the stress of changing season.
Let’s see Diwali in light of Ayurveda.
Diwali comes in fall season when weather is becoming dry, cold and windy. It is called “Vata season” because fall has the same qualities that characterize Vata: cold, dry, light, clear, and moving. These external environmental changes increase same qualities internally in body and mind, cause imbalance of Vata. The traditions of Diwali are to pacify Vata energy.
In Diwali we wake up early in morning, lit the lamps ,do oil massage and take warm bath applying herbal powder (utane),wear new cloths and pray to God or meditate.
Ayurveda recommends waking up on Brahma Muhurta. It is a pre-dawn period when Brahma, pure sattva energy is high in nature that can bring peace of mind. Vata governs the hours of 2 a.m. through 6 a.m. Apana, a type of Vata that controls elimination is active at this time. So waking up early in morning is important to proper elimination of waste products like faces and urine. Abhyanga, warm oil massage pacifies cold and dryness of Vata, reduces stress, calms nervous system and improves sleep patterns. Special herbal oils like Mahanarayan Tail, Ashwagandha Tail or plain sesame oil work best. Use of herbal powder (Utane) instead of soap preserves natural moisture of skin, cleans impurities, revitalizes skin and freshens senses. Warm shower increases blood circulation, relieves stiffness in body and improves digestive fire (Agni)
Diwali special food is also based on Ayurvedic principles. In Diwali we eat sweets, snacks with spices and fried food. Some preparations are made this way that if one ingredient is Vata aggravating the other will balance its effect for e.g. Basan Laddu .Basan (chick peas flour ) is very dry (Ruksha) in quality and Vata aggregating but we use a lot of Ghee which is Snigdha (unctuous). Ayurveda recommends if Ruksha Guna is increased then it is to be managed by Snigdha Guna and vice-versa. For Vata Season Ayurveda recommend to eat the food rich in sweet, sour and salty taste, fresh and warm ,include some amount of oil and ghee in diet to balance aggravated Vata. It is good to avoid salads (rich in bitter and astringent taste), raw and cold foods which increase Vata.
This diet and Daily routine are not only for Diwali days but to follow through out fall and winter season to stay healthy and balanced.
In Diwali we clean and decorate house, we try to purify the external environment but what about internal cleaning? In today’s busy life we often forget to breath, carry lot of stress and burden of negative emotions. Let’s clean those emotions, clean senses, mind and body. Ayurveda recommend doing Panchakarma (Ayurvedic complete detox and rejuvenation) in changing season especially in fall and spring to purify internal environment and to achieve physical, mental and emotional wellbeing
Health can not be accomplished with out spiritual wellbeing. We celebrate Diwali with doing worships to Lord Dhanvantari (God of health), Goddess Lakshmi for health and wealth, trying to find peace of mind with pujas, mantras and meditations.
Diwali, “festival of lights” signifies “The awareness of inner lights”. Let’s illuminate the light with in the soul to remove inner the obstacles, conquer the darkness and connect the lights shining within all of us.
“May the divine light of Diwali spread into your life Peace, prosperity, good health and happiness”