Diwali or Dipawali is one of most popular Hindu festival. It marks the win of good over the evil and is celebrated with lighting up the whole house and burning fire crackers.
One of the traditions during Diwali is to light up Diyas (singular Diya) Diyas are also called deepak or deepa. Diyas are lighting devices which use oil for the burning. Though in many cities the traditional Diyas has been replaced by either electrical diyas which has small led’s or bulbs fitted into it or by candles which is easily available and can be used very conveniently.
There are many types of Diyas available in the market but only the clay or earthen diyas are used for the purpose of religious rituals or pujas. Some people use brass diyas in their houses or in temples because these diyas don’t break.
Some traditional families who still follow the proper rituals use Diyas in their house. There are some basic steps which one has to follow to use diyas.
1. First we have to check that diyas are not deformed in any way. If the lower part is not flat then it won’t stand in its place. Secondly, does it have adequate space for pouring the oil.
2.. Then we have to submerge the diyas in the water so that it soaks water. There is a scientific reason behind this step. By allowing diyas to soak water we are limiting it’s capacity of soaking hence when we will pour oil in it then it won’t soak that much oil and all the oil will be used for burning only.
3. Then we will have to prepare “sholte” which refers to cotton wick. These days cotton wick are available directly from the market but you can prepare them in your house as well by using cotton. If you are preparing it in your house then do keep in mind the length and thickness of the cotton wick. A thick cotton wick will absorb more oil and will burn out faster. Hence, you should not make it thick.
4. Then you can put the cotton wick on the soaked diyas and then start pouring oil or ghee whatever you want to use. It is totally dependent on your preference.
In our house we have a tradition to put up 14 diyas just before the night of Diwali, this night is known as “chodo pradip”. Bengali do kali puja or pujo on the day of Diwali and it is the second most important festival for the Bengali community after the Durga Puja or Pujo.
The traditions are being replaced with convenient things but I think there can’t be anything which can replace a person’s emotion. These diyas don’t just represent victory of light over darkness or victory of good over evil but there is a deep sentiment attached to it.
This is the same way our forefathers used to celebrate this day and I just don’t mean our grandfathers or great grandfathers but even before that. So, in a way it connects us with our roots. Secondly, I used to do all these rituals in my childhood with my whole family. Family here refers to my joint family which includes all the uncle, aunts and cousins. My mother and grandmother used to oversee us while we (me and my cousins) used to do these tasks enthusiastically. Hence these rituals also bring back fond childhood memories.