By Mahesh Bang, acclaimed astrologer and Sunday Tribune columnist
Durban - Hindus deem some nights auspicious for material and spiritual success. These nights are so magical that worship with sincerity can alter your destiny, making it more favourable even if it’s not written in your horoscope.
One can easily tap the divine cosmic energy through proper prayer and rituals at these auspicious times.
Among such nights are Hanuman Jayanti, Navarathri, Janmashtami, Sharad Purnima, Diwali and Shivarathri. Holi night is also very auspicious to do secret prayers. On Diwali, Sharad Purnima and Navarathri, devotees can please Mother Lakshmi easily. On the first evening called Dhanteras (November 12) light 11 diyas (clay lamps) to invite Mother Lakshmi. It is a good time to buy any metal or stainless steel kitchen item etc. It is believed that buying metal on this day increases your wealth throughout the year.
According to the legends, on this day:
● The demon Narakasura was slain by Lord Krishna and Satyabhama. It’s also referred to as Narak-chaturdoshi and Lord Krishna should be worshipped.
● The powerful demon Raktabija was killed by the Goddess Kali. It is also known as Kali-chaturdashi and the Goddess should be worshipped.
● On the third evening of Diwali (November 14) the most powerful and sacred night of the year, to please Mother Lakshmi, you should add a further 10 diyas or even increase your total of diyas to 51 or 108. You should chant “Shreem” (pronounced Shree-m) 108 to 1 080 times.
● While chanting, concentrate on a picture of Mother Lakshmi on a lotus flower, with two elephants and their raised trunks on either side of her.
● On day four of the Diwali celebration, is Govardhan Pooja (November 15). This prayer is performed by making a hill called Govardhan Parbat using cow dung to make a small mould. Early in the morning it is usually placed at the entrance of the front gate of the home, where it’s worshipped for this day. It is believed there was once a drought in a village in Vridavan. The villagers were worried and wanted to pray to Lord Indra (God of heaven).
● At the time, Lord Krishna convinced the villagers they should instead pray to Mount Govardhan. This made Lord Indra angry and he sent a big thunderstorm to flood the village.
● Lord Krishna lifted Mount Govardhan to form an umbrella over the village and protect the villagers and their cattle. Govardhan has since been worshipped on this day, a manifestation of Lord Krishna, therefore Lord Krishna is also known as Govardhan Dhari.
● Bhai Dooj (November 16), the last day of the five-day Diwali festival. On this day, sisters show their love by putting a tilak or vermilion mark on the forehead of their brothers. They perform aarti (prayer) for their brothers and show the light of the holy flame as a mark of love and protection from evil forces. Sisters in turn are spoilt with gifts, goodies and blessings by their brothers. In India, legends are the backbone of the festival.
Legends of Bhai Dooj:
● It’s believed that on this day Lord Yamaraj (lord of death) visits his sister Yami, who put the auspicious mark on his forehead and prayed for his well-being. It is said that anyone who receives a tilak from a sister will increase his luck on this day.
● On the auspicious day of Bhai Dooj, Lord Krishna, after slaying the Narakasura demon, goes to his sister, Subhadra, where she welcomes him with a lamp, sweets and flowers. She puts the holy protective tilak on his forehead. With this legend in mind, the festival of Bhai Dooj is celebrated with enthusiasm.
Vastu and astrological tips to attain prosperity on Diwali:
Before following and applying these tips, you need to understand the concept of the energy field of your homes. It is a cosmo-magnetic energy field around your home which is not visible to most people, but it can be instinctively sensed or experienced by experts. Utilise this time to increase cosmic power in your home.
1. All desire to be blessed with wealth and prosperity with the arrival of Ma Lakshmi during the period of Diwali. Apart from performing the various religious rituals, a few Vastu methods can help you fulfil these wishes. Remember, before doing Lakshmi Pooja, pray to Lord Ganesha first. On Diwali day, it is considered auspicious to worship Lord Ganesha with Mother Lakshmi. Astrologically, it will bring good fortune and improve your finances. Lord Ganesha should be kept on the left side of Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati should be placed on the right side of Goddess Lakshmi. Very small idols of all of these Gods and Goddesses should be in sitting form. It is best to worship the deities in picture form.
2. It is advisable that you avoid using the colour black in the interiors of the sacred prayer place. Keep a new and clean piece of cloth aside for the purpose of cleaning the photos and idols. Do not use this cloth for any other purpose. Avoid wearing black and dark colours while performing Pooja. Dress smartly.
3. Before the festival of Diwali, discard all unwanted and useless items that have been lying around in the house and create some space for the new. As per the Vastu Shastra, the front door is related to opportunities. Therefore, make sure that the front door of your home opens fully and no clutter is stored behind it, otherwise the divine energies and opportunities may not enter your home as easily. The main hall or lounge is the place where you primarily connect with the external world so it should always be neat, beautiful and welcoming; Mother Lakshmi enters the house which is properly neat and clean.
4. Mix salt in water and spray this salted water in each and every corner of your home a few days before Diwali.
5. You may light Guggal Dhoop (a special type of incense) in each and every part of your home, if it is available in SA.
6. The lighting of your home should be maximised on this day and no corner should be left in darkness.
7. The main door should be well decorated and it should be welcoming. The ideal garland for the entrance door is made with the leaves of mango, ashok trees etc. They help in purifying the environment and keep the negative vibes out of the house.
8. Put two earthen diyas on both the sides of the main entrance door. The diyas outside the house can be placed in multiples of four. The day before lighting the diyas, soak them in water then dry them. On the first day, place the diyas on a metal plate and sprinkle a little kumkum (red powder) mix with few drops of water, like doing tilak before lighting them.
9. Rangoli designs can be used to encourage the positive energy to enter the house before lighting.
10. For businessmen, new account books are inaugurated on this day of Goddess Lakshmi to seek Her blessing for the next financial year, during preparation of Lakshmi Pooja.
11. The family should eat together, especially at dinner. Stick to vegetarian meals and avoid alcohol. The family should not fight or have heated arguments or discussions.
12. Mops and brooms should be stored horizontally, out of sight, after cleaning.
13. It is traditionally believed that if you see a white cat, lizard and/ or owl after Lakshmi prayers, it is considered auspicious until the next Diwali. Throughout the year, you will be showered with money.