Shedding light on Diwali
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Dear Editor,
ON GTV 28 on the 28th September Pt. Jagmohan Persaud sought to explain his rationale for celebrating Diwali on the 30th October. He explained that he carried over the Tithi (moon’s phase), which ended at 1:37pm on the 29th, to sunrise on the 30th. There is a system which Astrologers use, which says, “A Tithi which prevails at sunrise is deemed to be the Tithi for that day until the next sunrise.” However, this is for Astrological purpose only. Every Tithi has a life-span – its duration. Amaavasya Tithi, for example, runs from 11:09am on the 29th to 1:37pm on the 30th, a period of 26 hours 28 minutes. The moon changes to the next phase at 1:38pm; it does not wait on anyone. Extending the phase beyond 1:37pm is artificial; it is not real; it does not happen. For religious purposes, the rule is, “Where a Tithi requires the performance of a Vrat (religious act), that performance must be within the period of the Tithi.” Diwali must be observed within the time-frame of the moon’s phase. The period after 1:37pm is not considered auspicious.
Secondly, some persons posit the view that Diwali is to be observed on the darkest night. This is a popular misconception. According to all texts, Diwali is celebrated on the evening of the New Moon (Amaavasya). They refer to NASA Moon Calendar for support. But NASA agrees with all of our Panchaanga (Astrological Tables) as regards the time of the Full Moon and New Moon. Does NASA say that the night of the 30th October is the ‘darkest night?’ No! NASA says: (1) The Moon’s darkest phase is on the 30th, and (2) the New Moon ends at 1:37pm on the 30th. What NASA is saying is that the Moon’s darkest phase will be at 1:37pm on the 30th October. The Moon starts to get bigger and brighter after 1:37pm. The night of the 30th, therefore, is not the darkest period; 1:37pm is.
Each of the Moon’s 30 phases can occur at any time of the day, not necessarily during the night. Full moon, for example, can be at 8:00am; it starts to get smaller and darker after 8:00am. Similarly, with the New Moon, it can be during the day, like on the 30th. However, because of the sunlight, we do not see them. Those who celebrate Diwali on the evening of the 30th will be doing so during the bright period of the moon. The evening of Amaavasya, 29th October, may not be the darkest, but the end of Amaavasya (1:37pm on the 30th) definitely is. The Moon changes its position at 1:37pm from Amaavasya to Pratipada, the first lunar day in the bright fortnight.
Regards
Pt. R. Balbadar

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