Meaning of Deepawali

Deepavali or Diwali popularly known as the “festival of lights,” is a festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-November for different reasons. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BC.
Deepavali is an official holiday in India,Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore,and Fiji.
The name “Diwali” is a contraction of “Deepavali” (Sanskrit: दीपावली Dīpāvalī), which translates into “row of lamps”. Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas or dīpas) in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one’s house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome.[8] Firecrackers are burst in order to drive away evil spirits.During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.
The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival, Naraka Chaturdasi, marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. Amavasya, the third day of Deepawali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the Bali, and banished him to Patala. It is on the fourth day of Deepawali, Kartika Shudda Padyami, that Bali went to patala and took the reins of his new kingdom in there. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

Lakshmi Puja

Deepavali marks the end of the harvest season in most of India. Farmers give thanks for the bounty of the year gone by, and pray for a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the agrarian cycle, and is the last major celebration before winter. Lakshmi symbolizes wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.
There are two legends that associate the worship of Lakshmi on this day. According to the first legend, on this day, Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagar, the Ocean of Milk, during the great churning of the oceans, Samudra manthan. The second legend (more popular in western India) relates to the Vamana avatar of the big three Vishnu, the incarnation he assumed to kill the demon king Bali. On this day, Vishnu came back to his abode the Vaikuntha; so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.[15]
As per spiritual references, on this day “Lakshmi-panchayatan” enters the Universe. Vishnu, Indra, Kubera, Gajendra and Lakshmi are elements of this “panchayatan” (a group of five). The tasks of these elements are:
Lakshmi: Divine Energy (Shakti) which provides energy to all the above activities.
Vishnu: Happiness (happiness and satisfaction)
Kubera: Wealth (generosity; one who shares wealth)
Indra: Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
Gajendra: Carries the wealth

The mission to clean up Mount Everest

Mount Everest – more than 2,500 people have reached the summit since Edmund Hillary in 1953.The people who set out to climb Everest spend months dreaming about reaching the summit. They pay $65,000 (£41,000) in fees to the Nepali government; they train, trek for days, endure extreme discomfort, even danger. So it should be a simple thing to get them to pick up after themselves.

Apparently not. Nearly 60 years after Edmund Hillary conquered Everest, and 30 years after climbing turned commercial, the region is still struggling to deal with mass tourism.

By the standards of the 70s, when the main climbing routes were littered with discarded tents and food packets, Everest is a lot cleaner, with just a smattering of plastic bottles and sweet wrappers on the rocky plateau that is base camp. But a Nepali environmental coalition is pressing the government in Kathmandu to adopt a new management plan to safeguard the Himalayas in the age of mass tourism – and to make amends for the environmental sins of the past.

“Everybody talks about waste in the mountains but nobody talks about proper solutions,” says Phinjo Sherpa, director of Eco Himal. “Cleaning up Everest every once in a while does not help. The main thing is management, waste management.” The group has lodged a plan with the government that calls for tougher penalties against litterbugs at Everest and the surrounding areas. They are also pushing for the installation of portable toilets at base camp and investment in waste treatment facilities – which currently do not exist in the region – with proposals for five incinerators and sewage treatment plants.

It’s difficult to tread lightly in the high-altitude environment, especially in areas this remote. The first expeditions to Everest were monumental in scale. The 1953 attempt, which brought success to Hillary, set off from Kathmandu with 1,200 porters for their equipment, according to Kancha Sherpa, the last surviving member of the team that made it to base camp.

The 1953 expedition required 25 wooden crates just to carry the coins they would spend along the way. A single oxygen bottle weighed 15kg. As for dealing with the detritus of such a huge human endeavour, Kancha looks blank. “You have to remember that was a long time ago. Things were very different then,” he says. Even Hillary admitted to leaving equipment behind, and more than 2,500 people have made it to the summit since his day. The heavy traffic left its mark. “People were careless. They would take a rubbish bag but they would still leave stuff behind,” said Tshering Tenzing Sherpa, an official of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, the NGO charged with overseeing the Everest cleanup.

Modern expeditions are much more conscious of their footprint. Groups must pay a $4,000 (£2,500) deposit on their equipment – in the hope that they will carry down everything they brought. Repeat visitors to Everest see a difference. “It’s visibly and spectacularly better,” says Jan Morava, an electrical engineer from the Toronto area who was attempting the summit with his brother and a climber from the UAE. “There were piles of rubbish in base camp before.”

But conservation groups say the deposit is small compared with the other expenses associated with an ascent on Everest. They also argue the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee lacks the resources to keep up with all the groups climbing Everest and to make sure that do indeed carry all their equipment back down to Kathmandu.

The committee says it brought back 25 tonnes of rubbish from Everest last spring – including 12,000kg of paper and plastic and 11,250kg of human waste. But conservationists argue that waste disposal is haphazard. There are rubbish dumps with heaps of tuna cans and plastic bottles only a few minutes’ walk away from villages on the trekking trail.

On a trek near the village of Lobuche last May, Alton Byers of the Mountain Institute came across a 10 sq metre open pit of human waste, hauled down from Everest, close to a seasonal stream. The pit had been covered over by the time of a subsequent visit in May.

And, says Tshering, there is plenty more detritus of the past still out there – rubbish discarded by climbers years and even decades ago, preserved in ice and snow. “Just above the ice falls at crampon point you can see cans from 10, 20, 30 years ago or even older,” Tshering says. “There’s a lot of old rubbish out there.”

Other high peaks less famous than Everest are even dirtier, notes Tshering. And with climate change, snow and ice on mountaintops is melting, exposing even more rubbish. “We are in a garbage race,” he says.

Source

  • Suzanne Goldenberg
  • guardian.co.uk, Monday 24 October 2011 20.00 BST
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