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Post-Divali rituals

Published: 
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Yesterday, Hindus and the general population of T&T celebrated the Hindu festival of Divali with a public holiday. This colourful religious festival was brought to Trinidad aboard the SS Fatel Razack on May 30, 1845, and has since attracted the participation of the national population.

Divali is essentially a family religious observance where pujas (special prayers) are conducted by the pundit at the individual’s home. This puja, known as “Lakshmi Puja” is dedicated to that aspect of the Divine that we Hindus refer to as Mother Lakshmi. Families engage in preparing and decorating the environment and listening to the recitation of Sanskrit mantras to attract the “visit” of Mother Lakshmi.

With the present access to mass communication like television, radio and the print media, Divali has now become an open-air event that attracts tens of thousands at the various venues. These formats, however, are more religio/cultural since the pujas (worship) take place in the Hindu temples, homes and other institutions.

Every year Divali falls in the Hindu month of Kartic (October-November). Kartic this year started on October 5, and will end on Friday, November 3. As if to bring closure on all Divali celebrations, on the last day of the month of Kartic (November 3), Hindus will journey to various watering sites like rivers, ponds and the sea-shores to perform puja and to make offerings of flowers and fruits to the Divinity that reside in the waters. This ceremony is referred to as “Kartic Snaan,” meaning “sacred bath.”

Hindus believe that in this present cycle of creation which started over a million years ago, the Supreme Lord (God), made descent on earth from time to time. It is the belief that God has made nine descents and the tenth which is Kalki (space manifestation) will be to herald the end of this cycle of creation.

We also believe that the first manifestation appeared in the ocean, where life is considered to have started. This first manifestation is called the Matysa Avatar or the Fish manifestation. Because of this belief, we revere the oceans and other watering places. Taking this ritual bath during the month of Kartic is similar to a thousand dips in the sacred Ganges River in India. It is also prescribed that those who cannot travel to have baths in the rivers and lakes should take baths in their homes and perform puja in their house or family temple. It is also advised that during this entire month of Kartic we light lamps (deyas) at our homes and in our village temples. The prescribed puja after bath must be dedicated to Lord Krishna.

The devout Hindu also believes that in the month of Kartic, the rays of the sun and the moon exert a beneficial effect on Man. These rays provide a constructive energy to the mind and the brain of the devotee.

At our own Manzanilla Beach Centre, thousands of Hindus will gather to perform congregational worship and offer fruits and flowers before taking a bath in the Atlantic Ocean.

Each temple group will have its own tent and other facilities, including their own village pundit, who will conduct the puja ceremony on a Bedi (altar), created out of the sand on the seashore. At the culmination of puja, jhandas or colourful prayer flags will be planted along the shore-line. Meals will then be shared and the process of meeting and greeting fellow worshippers from across the country who journey to the beach for prayer and fellowship, will take place.

Kartic Snaan was first celebrated at the Manzanilla venue on the formation of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha by Act.41 of 1952, and since then the observance at this venue has continued without break. The Ministry of Education has annually permitted the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Education Board of Management to close all its schools to facilitate teachers, parents and children to be part of this Divali closing ritual, known as the Kartic Snaan observance. Friday, November 3, will be a holiday for all Hindu schools.

Divali is essentially a family religious observance where pujas (special prayers) are conducted by the pundit at the individual’s home. This puja, known as “Lakshmi Puja” is dedicated to that aspect of the Divine that we Hindus refer to as Mother Lakshmi. Families engage in preparing and decorating the environment and listening to the recitation of Sanskrit mantras to attract the “visit” of Mother Lakshmi.

With the present access to mass communication like television, radio and the print media, Divali has now become an open-air event that attracts tens of thousands at the various venues. These formats, however, are more religio/cultural since the pujas (worship) take place in the Hindu temples, homes and other institutions.

Every year Divali falls in the Hindu month of Kartic (October-November). Kartic this year started on October 5, and will end on Friday, November 3. As if to bring closure on all Divali celebrations, on the last day of the month of Kartic (November 3), Hindus will journey to various watering sites like rivers, ponds and the sea-shores to perform puja and to make offerings of flowers and fruits to the Divinity that reside in the waters. This ceremony is referred to as “Kartic Snaan,” meaning “sacred bath.”

Hindus believe that in this present cycle of creation which started over a million years ago, the Supreme Lord (God), made descent on earth from time to time. It is the belief that God has made nine descents and the tenth which is Kalki (space manifestation) will be to herald the end of this cycle of creation.

We also believe that the first manifestation appeared in the ocean, where life is considered to have started. This first manifestation is called the Matysa Avatar or the Fish manifestation. Because of this belief, we revere the oceans and other watering places. Taking this ritual bath during the month of Kartic is similar to a thousand dips in the sacred Ganges River in India. It is also prescribed that those who cannot travel to have baths in the rivers and lakes should take baths in their homes and perform puja in their house or family temple. It is also advised that during this entire month of Kartic we light lamps (deyas) at our homes and in our village temples. The prescribed puja after bath must be dedicated to Lord Krishna.

The devout Hindu also believes that in the month of Kartic, the rays of the sun and the moon exert a beneficial effect on Man. These rays provide a constructive energy to the mind and the brain of the devotee.

At our own Manzanilla Beach Centre, thousands of Hindus will gather to perform congregational worship and offer fruits and flowers before taking a bath in the Atlantic Ocean.

Each temple group will have its own tent and other facilities, including their own village pundit, who will conduct the puja ceremony on a Bedi (altar), created out of the sand on the seashore. At the culmination of puja, jhandas or colourful prayer flags will be planted along the shore-line. Meals will then be shared and the process of meeting and greeting fellow worshippers from across the country who journey to the beach for prayer and fellowship, will take place.

Kartic Snaan was first celebrated at the Manzanilla venue on the formation of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha by Act.41 of 1952, and since then the observance at this venue has continued without break. The Ministry of Education has annually permitted the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Education Board of Management to close all its schools to facilitate teachers, parents and children to be part of this Divali closing ritual, known as the Kartic Snaan observance. Friday, November 3, will be a holiday for all Hindu schools.