Women decorate their home with rice paintings and sand mandalas. Men light clay lamps to show their ancestors the path to heaven. Children play with fireworks. More than one billion Hindus, all over the world, celebrate their new year, Diwali, with fun, food and festivities. To receive good luck, they worship Kali, the universal mother goddess, seeking her blessing on this new moon night that falls in October or November.
According to the Hindu scriptures, the Absolute one when unmanifested is called principle and when manifested is known as person. God can be he (consciousness) or she (energy). The cosmic energy in its dynamic form is symbolized for ordinary mortals in the form of Goddess Kali. Since 10,000 BC, worship of god as Kali, the Divine Mother, has been one of the greatest contributions of Hinduism to humankind.
There are various alleged origins attributed to this festival. Some hold that they are celebrating the marriage of Vishnu (the god of preservation) with Laxmi (goddess of fortune). Other legends say that on this day Indian people, oil lamps in hand, welcomed Rama (an incarnation of God) who triumphantly returned to India after killing Ravana (the demon king of Sri Lanka) with the grace of the Divine Mother. The festival of lights is also associated with the destruction of the evil demon Narakasura by lord Krishna.
Diwali is the victory celebration of good over evil. Everyone, early in the morning of this festival of light, greets their families and friends forgetting and forgiving the wrongdoings of others. They take an oil bath, prepare sweet meats and pray to Goddess Kali to destroy their ignorance as well as grant boons. All homes are cleaned, decorated and illuminated at night by earthen oil lamps. The night sky is lit up with fireworks to chase away the evil spirits.
This Indian New Year is celebrated by the farmers as their harvest festival; a time when they place oil lamps in their rice fields to kill the seasonal insects and offer fruit, flower, fragrance and food to goddess Kali, the sustainer of life. On this day also Hindu merchants open their new account books and pray to the Divine Mother for success and prosperity during the coming year. The Goddess Kali festival is known as the Mother's Day in India; a time when the Indian women are presented with new cloth and jewelry and treated with great reverence.
Worship of goddess Kali in various forms is found all over the world. In America, she is honored as Kofita, the Celtic goddess and Kalama, the Mother Spirit of the native American. Goddess Kali is the personification of absolute female power, wisdom and freedom on earth. During the last part of the twentieth century, Goddess Kali worship has grown amongst the new American generation. For them, the Divine Mother is a destroyer of discrimination, a healer of drugs, alcohol and HIV and the bestower of equal rights and spiritual freedom. This year, the Goddess Kali festival will be celebrated in the United States in many homes and locations by her children who see worship of the Divine Mother as the answer of our present time.
Kalki has been a professor of Eastern philosophy at Stanford, John F. Kennedy, Portland State, Marylhurst and Portland Community College. For more information about the Indian New Year and the Goddess Kali Festival call (503) 284-8729.
INFORMATION ON INDIA
- Largest democratic country
- Oldest religion ( the Mother Goddess religion)
- Most ancient written scripture ( the Vedas)
- Highest mountain ( the Himalayas)
- Holiest river ( the Ganges)
- Second most populated country
- Seventh largest country
- Eighth largest industry
- Largest movie production
- Newest nuclear power
- Founder of ancient astronomy, medicine, engineering, mathematics, linguistic, art, dance and music
- Birth place of five major world religions
- Land of Yoga, the Tajmahal, the Buddha and Gandhi
LIST OF EVENTS
Indian New Year celebration, Nov. 7, 5-9 PM, Mahakali Mandir (NE 14th & Wygant, Portland). The Indian-American community will celebrate the Indian New Year featuring the traditional devotional songs, Yoga, a Vedic fire ceremony, authentic Indian food and more. For info. call (503) 284-8729.