A Festival of Light

Diwali is one of the most beautiful days in India filled with light, good wishes and joy. A festival that symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.

There was a time when my brother and I would make lists of firework for these days and for our parents to buy for us. The elation would go on for days. Sometimes we’d collect dry leaves, especially leaf from banana trees and set them up on fire in the evening. It was kind of a warm up game for us before we’d start playing with the firecrackers. Though there is a different myth behind this ritual of setting the leaves on fire. it’s called Narapora or Burir ghor porano ( To burn an old entity’s house) and is performed to welcome the spirit of freshness, to burn all the evils inside us and that wander around.

However, I had a different experience of Diwali last night. The neighborhood went absolutely dark after an electricity blackout for more than two and a half hours. It was probably the darkest and most enchanting night of this year so far. The candles in the houses and the fireworks were looking magical in the fog and in darkness. It somewhere felt like aeons ago before the advancement of life, people were persuaded and compelled to light up wax candles in their surroundings in order to get rid of the absolute darkness in these days of Kartik (A Hindu calendar month that typically overlaps October and November) Amavasya (the day of new moon).

The word Diwali has arrived from Sanskrit word Dipavali meaning “row or series of lights”. The word Dip means lamp, light or candle that glows and Avali means a row, range, continuous line, series. The festival is associated with a diversity of deities, traditions, and symbolism among Hindus. One tradition links the festival to legends in the epic Ramayana, where Diwali is the day Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman reached Ayodhya after a period in exile and Rama’s army of good defeated demon king Ravana’s army of evil. While Bengalis celebrate Diwali as a day of worshiping the goddess Kali (the goddess of death, time, and doomsday). Many people associate the festival with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. While trade and merchant families and others also offer prayers to Saraswati, the goddess of music, art, wisdom, and learning.

Yet, everyone shares a common focus on righteousness, self-inquiry and the importance of knowledge, which, according to Lindsey Harlan, an Indologist and scholar of Religious Studies, is the path to overcoming the “darkness of ignorance.” Consummately, The idea of Diwali revolves around the belief that good ultimately triumphs over evil. A festival to welcome compassion and love.

So Wishing a Happy and Safe Diwali to everyone!

Photo from pixabay

14 thoughts on “A Festival of Light

  1. It sounds like the perfect setting for this year’s festival of light – utter darkness. Even though it might seem to surround us, we need to remember that we are responsible for lighting that candle inside us, and lead others.

    Liked by 1 person

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