With the onset of the month of Diwali, there comes a sense of joy and a celebratory spirit. Diwali (or Deepavali), well-known as the festival of lights, is the most anticipated and widely celebrated Indian festival. The word Diwali stands for ‘victory of light over darkness’. Hence, this auspicious occasion is celebrated by lighting diyas; which further signifies the removal of evil by welcoming the Goddess Lakshmi into our home and our lives.
In most households, this festival is celebrated for five days. Apart from beautifully decorating their houses with diyas, Indians worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha during this time, as it is considered to bring prosperity and an abundance of knowledge. On the day of Diwali, every household performs a Lakshmi puja after sunset, as it is believed that the Goddess Lakshmi visits the homes of devotees and blesses them with wealth on that day.
In addition to diyas, there are a number of other items that are required to perform the puja. Here’s a rundown of some of these items, including some of the benefits and potential hazards of using them.
Incense sticks – While performing puja, we Indians burn incense sticks in our temples and homes. In fact, incense sticks are often used as a safer alternative to air freshiners. Burning agarbathi is known to relieve anxiety or stress, they can also promote good sleep by calming the mind and body, and aids in keeping infections at bay. They may also lower blood pressure and provide relief from headaches. However, there are some disadvantages of using an agarbathi too. Be aware that it can worsen the symptoms of asthma, and that the chemicals that are released while burning incense sticks can contribute to lung cancer and respiratory problems. And some of these harmful chemicals also cause skin rashes.
Camphor – Another item that is frequently used for performing puja is camphor. Camphor or karpooram is used to give aarthi to the divine Lord. Camphor is known for its health benefits, such as acting as a pain relieving agent, helping clear skin rashes, treating eczema and nail fungus, and being a good remedy to treat cold and cough. Just like incense sticks, camphor also aids in better sleep patterns. On the other hand, the risks of using camphor include that it can lead to respiratory and chest issues. Camphor is also dangerous for pregnant women and for new mothers who are breastfeeding their newborn.
Candles – Lighting candles and diyas is considered to remove obstacles and bring prosperity; hence it is a customary practice in India during festivals and on auspicious occasions. While burning candles has some health benefits like being an excellent way to calm your mind and body, helping with anxiety, and being used to get rid of earwax, there are several health risks to be aware of. It can make one more prone to allergies, and even damage the nervous system, lungs and brain in rare cases. Nowadays, some candles are made with heavy metals, which should be avoided if at all possible.
Kumkum or red powder – During festivals, people use kumkum to decorate their surroundings and offer prayers to the Lord. Kumkum is associated with numerous health benefits, including providing relief from headaches, helping with nasal congestion, enhancing concentration levels, and increasing blood circulation. A few disadvantages of kumkum are it can increase the risk of skin cancer, allergies, and hair problems, due to the presence of Rhodamine B dye.
So keep some of these points in mind, and celebrate this Diwali using some eco-friendly products such as organic kumkum, natural aromatherapy candles, and incense sticks. Wish you all a happy and a prosperous Diwali! - Akhila