It was 2002 in Green Park, Delhi. I was a lowly Management Trainee in Sales living in a 2 room Barsati in an upscale neighbourhood in Delhi. My landlord had built a bunch of 1 ad 2 room sets in an outhouse off his main house to rent to women students and women employees who lived in Delhi and wanted a safe, yet convenient place to live out of and commute. That it was about 50 km one way from my place of work is besides the point here.
On most days, the main home would be shrouded in darkness, and all I could hear was the incessant blare of a television set. But about 2 weeks before Diwali, my landlord surfaced and asked if I wanted the home cleaned specially in any way.
“After all, beta”, he added, “yeh to Diwali ke din hain”.
As I saw the painstaking painting and house repair work that was done in that Delhi home that week before Deepavali, I wondered about the connection. Why is Diwali so linked to home cleaning, repairs, gold, silver, and special baths?
The answers lie in our history. So let’s dial back.
Diwali Cleaning and Deep cleaning: Significance from Sri Ramayana
Deep cleaning of the home, plastering and painting over cracks in the home, cleaning the home of cobwebs, deep cleaning the floors, bathrooms, walls, are all common practices done in Indian homes in the weeks leading up to Diwali. In fact, “Diwali cleaning” or a “Diwali cleaning checklist” are common search terms in India around Diwali every year.
In the south home painting and repairs are traditionally not carried around this time as this is the season for rains in Kerala and Tamilnadu in October, and November. Such home repairs are normally carried out in these states after Pongal, when the sunshine is strong. Practically it is a great idea to carry out wet work like repainting in this period as strong sunshine helps the paint dry quickly. However, home cleaning is a common practice in these parts.
The significance of this can be observed in our study of the Srimad Valmiki Ramayana. In the last few Sargas of the Yuddha Kanda once Lord Sri Rama has won the war, and is preparing to come back to Ayodhya, Hanuman reaches Ayodhya before the Lord. He speaks to Lord Bharata of the Lord’s great victory and his imminent return to Ayodhya.
Lord Hanuman is also sent in advance by Lord Sri Rama as Lord Bharata vowed to wait not one day beyond the Lord’s 14 year vanvas. He vowed that if the Lord did not return as promised on the dot of the end of the vanvas, He (Bharata) would enter into Agni and immolate himself. So to ensure no such mishap occurs, Lord Hanuman is dispatched ahead of the divine couple to convey the good news to Lord Bharata and Lord Shatrughna.
Bharata commands Shatrughna to line the streets of Ayodhya with citizens, dancers, reciters of the Puranas, Musicians and members form all arts, trade guilds, the Army and the families of the ministers, and finally the royal family.
Hearing Bharata’s orders, Shatrughna immediately organizes a vast number of workmen and laborers to do the following activities:
- Pave the roads from Nandigram to Ayodhya – pave over every small crack and cavity so that the entire road is even, smooth and flat
- समीकुरुत निम्नानि विषमाणि समानि च || ६-१२७-६
स्थानानि च निरस्यन्तां नन्दिग्रामादितः परम् |
- समीकुरुत निम्नानि विषमाणि समानि च || ६-१२७-६
- Sprinkle the ground with ice cold water. Then strew parched grains and flowers on the roads
- Let the streets in Ayodhya be decorated with flags. Let each house which is on the main street be decorated until the sun rises. शोभयन्तु च वेश्मानि सूर्यस्योदयनं प्रति
- Let hundreds of men sprinkle 5 fragrant colours on the main royal highway, and also line it with rows of garlands and flowers
- स्रग्दाममुक्तपुष्पैश्च सुगन्धैः पञ्चवर्णकैः || ६-१२७-९
राजमार्गमसम्बाधं किरन्तु शतशो नराः |
- स्रग्दाममुक्तपुष्पैश्च सुगन्धैः पञ्चवर्णकैः || ६-१२७-९
We can see from these verses from Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, how the entire kingdom of Ayodhya prepares for their Lord’s return. The roads, homes, animals, cavalry and all citizens go to work joyously making every road smooth, and decorating the city with flags, auspicious torans, flowers, colors and lamps to welcome back their King and Queen.
For every Deepavali in India, to celebrate the return of Lord Rama and Mother Seetha, and to celebrate the victory of Dharma over Adharma, India cleans and decorates the home for Deepavali.
Bring in Mangalya into the Home this Deepavali
One of the qualities of the Divine Mother, Goddess Mahalakshmi is “Mangalya” (auspicious). Her name itself means “one who is the opposite of alakshmi” – Alakshmi is lack of prosperity or Daridra. Auspiciousness and prosperity comes with clean surroundings, neatness, carefully selected objects (a few), no hoarding and proper placement of all objects in the home.
Clutter, dirt, cobwebs and excessive hoarding are also considered bad for mental peace in Ayurveda. In fact, an excess of object hoarding is indicative of kapha aggravation mentally and indicates an increase in tamasic state (or can also trigger tamas).
Before we decorate the home, the home must be cleaned and decluttered well. Decluttering creates space, reduces tamasic tendencies and brings in freshness and positivity.
Suggested Deepavali decluttering checklist:
- Seal any small cracks in the home which can harbor insects, roaches
- Clean cobwebs in the home
- Send out broken, unrepairable items to waste e-cycling
- Give away things you have not used for a long time (and see no future use for)
- Do not hoard things (people have a habit of hanging onto restaurant cutlery sauce packets, plastic bags, etc. as they believe they may use it in the future)
- Clean the window frames, and corners of furniture in the home
Deep cleaning the home for Diwali 2021
Ayurveda tells us that we have 5 panchamahaboothas that combine to form this entire prakriti (universe), flora, fauna, rock, earth, water and ourselves. So everything in this universe is a mixture of 5 panchamahaboothas.
So also our homes reflect the presence of the panchamahaboothas. Homes contain akash and vayu – combination of air and wind in the spaces that surround the objects within. We also have components of prithvi (earth (, agni (fire) and jala (water) in our home in different parts of the home.
When we clean our homes, we most often pay attention only to floors and hard surfaces. Ayurveda suggests we also cleanse the space and air within homes through the use of special sounds, herbal fumigation, light and positive energy. Light, smoke and sound all have the capacity to cleanse air and space, reduce negative vibration in the home and infuse it with a positive, spiritual aura.
In an Ayurvedic home cleanser, we look for the following properties:
- 1. Swacchakara – To clean the surface thoroughly of dirt and grease
- 2. Rakshoghna – to protect us from microorganisms and disease causing organisms
- 3. Bhutaghna – To cleanse negative aura
- 4. Jantuhara – To repel small insects and organisms
- 5. Mangalya + Prana positive – To promote auspiciousness
The Divine Mother protects the environment being the Earth mother herself. So ideally we must choose nontoxic, environmentally friendly products that do not harm anyone. The implements we choose, as far as possible should also be natural, biodegradable and compostable. Read this earlier detailed post on how you can use natural herbs to safely and effectively clean the home.
Diwali Home Cleaning Checklist 2021
- Use a non-toxic roach repellant in the kitchen and bathroom around sinks and drains for atleast a week to ten days to slowly bring down insect infestation
- We suggest Krya Anti Roach oil from our range
Krya Anti-Roach Oil
- Clean all bathroom fixtures, mirrors and reflective surfaces with an acidic nontoxic cleaner
- We suggest Krya Lemon detergent strained in water
Krya Natural Detergent Powder Scented – with Lemon & Lemongrass 200 gm
- Clean all porcelain fixtures and bathroom tiles with a combination of manual scrubbing, natural acids and a natural deep cleaning product.
- We suggest Krya Tile cleaner (make into a thick paste with water or vinegar and use to scrub)
Krya Natural Tile Cleaner
- Clean fans, insect nets and doors and windows with an insect repelling, dust and grease repelling natural cleaning product
- A combination of the Krya Lemongrass detergent and the Krya Dishwash is very helpful here
Krya Natural Dish wash Powder
- Professionally clean your hood / chimney – if this is not possible, soak the filters and scrub them well with an eco-friendly grease remover
- Surface clean the kitchen platform, gas stoves and tiles. Ideally gas stoves should be decorated with rice flour based rangoli whenever preparing Prasad for the Puja (this can also be done on a daily basis)
- A combination of the Krya Sookshma floor cleaner and the Krya Lemon Detergent is very helpful here
Krya Natural Unscented Floor Cleaner – Sookshma (200 gm)
- Clean your brass and copper puja thalis and cookware / serve ware with tamarind and salt, or an eco-friendly dish wash product
- The Krya Brass and Copper Dishwash is an excellent option
Krya Natural Dish wash Powder for Brass & Copper (Fragrance Free)
To Conclude: Deepavali Home Cleaning and Decluttering in 2021
Urban life, especially today is riddled with things. Our homes and offices are packed with packaging material, paper, plastic and small things whihc we use rarely. Most of us can do without atleast 50% of the stuff aroudn our homes.
This clutter and excess stands in the way of our personal development. It leads to storage issues, insect infestation and creates tamas and heaviness across the home. We sometimes need the power of a spiritually charged traditional festival to help us clean up our acts.
Deepavali is one such spiritual portal for all of us. Bolstered by the very shlokas from the Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, and by understanding the nature and qualities of the Divine Mother who presides over this festival, we can draw meaning and will power to cleanse our spaces.
During this sacred celebration, we pray to Lord Rama and Mother Seetha to bless you and your family. We also ask them, in their Infinite Love, Grace and Wisdom to give us the strength and clarity to bring in Mangalya and positivity into our homes and offices.
Jai Siya Ram!