BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: This past week has been the Hindu festival of Diwali, celebrating the end of the year and many events in the lives of the some of Hinduism’s most important deities. Hindus believe in one ultimate God, but also worship and ask for help often at home from the many thousands of more familiar gods and goddesses. Last weekend we visited Monu Harnal in Burke, Virginia, as she helped prepare her parents’ home to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi.
MONU HARNAL: Diwali, Deepavali are one of the same thing. It means “the festival of lights.” During Diwali, we want to illuminate our house so that the Goddess Lakshmi can find her way.
The whole family gets together. We celebrate in our homes. Everyone gets to wear new clothes. It’s similar to Christmas plus New Year’s all at once.
In our house, we have the puja room, the prayer room. My Dad, he chants and we follow him. First, we pray to Lord Ganesha, who is the remover of all obstacles, and then, we pray to the Goddess Lakshmi to bring in both material and spiritual prosperity.
In Hinduism, the nice thing is all the gods like are your board members in your life. They act like board members, and you can call on one of them whenever you need something for a certain problem or issue or whatever it is. You can call on them to say, “Okay, Goddess Lakshmi, I need a little cash here. So help me, give me some energy to remove this problem for me.”
We don’t see prosperity as anything negative. It’s actually very fortunate that you’re prosperous. You’ve done good deeds and you’re being rewarded with prosperity.
Because the coins are a symbol of Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance, we wash her in milk and decorate her with vermillion, the red, what’s on my forehead right now.
It’s called a “tika.” It’s a confirmation of us performing puja, the actual prayers that we do to evoke the goddess.
I’m striving to eliminate ignorance, become more spiritually awakened. That’s my goal as a Hindu.