As the autumn sets in, one can hear the melodious footsteps of festivals approaching in almost every part of the world. India is called the land of festivals, hence, the footsteps are loud and knocking is fiery. There is a festival on every spiritual significant day. The intention set forth by ancestors was to make life a celebration. This month, it is Diwali in India. One of the most popular festivals celebrated by not only Hindus but Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists too. To be honest, everyone in India, irrespective of their religion, celebrates it with their own little or grandeur ways. It falls on the no moon day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Kartik (October-November). Hence, date differs every year. This year, it is on the 19th of October. However, the festivities begin two days before and last for five days with each day having its own significance, traditional folklores and spiritual rituals.
Different Tales, Similar Message
The folklores differ from both region and religion. While the Northern India believes in the story of the homecoming of Rama after 14 years of exile after defeating Ravana- the ten-headed devil; South India celebrates the killing of a demon, Narakasura by Lord Krishna, thereby freeing the captive women. Rama and Krishna are the metaphors of light and demons are the darkness.
According to Jain texts, their Lord Mahavira attained nirvana this day; depicting the enlightenment.
Sikhs commemorate this day as their sixth guru, Hargobind Ji was able to free himself and other Hindu kings and gurus from the prison of Mughal emperor, Jahangir. They went to the Golden Temple which is lit in the grandest way possible on Diwali.
For Buddhists, this is the day when Emperor Ashoka gave up everything and adopted the path of peace and became the path of becoming a Buddha.
Every story has a victory of truth over evil or the light over darkness or the knowledge over ignorance. The religions, regions and beliefs can be different but the aspiration is one – to light the inner consciousness.
Diwali is derived from Sanskrit word, Deepawali, meaning – a row of lights. The main aspect of this festival is that the diyas or traditional earthen lamps are lit in every house in the night. Tiny flames illuminating the houses in the night is such a blissful sight to see. The new apparels are bought, houses are decorated, gifts are exchanged and crackers are burnt. All these are outside representation of the energy shift which happens on an intrinsic level too.
Lighting diyas generate positive energies. The mustard oil is used for burning the wick. Diyas are lit in almost every place and hence has a remarkably positive effect on the well-being of all the living beings. It is just not the outside which is lightened, it is a time to light the inner self. Light signifies knowledge and clarity. Without clarity, the actions you perform will be futile. Diwali is a reminder that the dark clouds of ignorance should be dispelled so that the bright rays of light can illuminate mind, body and soul.
New clothes are a sign of revamping the old beliefs set in our mind. Gifts are an act of giving out love and kindness and the ability to share the blessings we have. This is the true significance of gift-giving. Equally important is receiving it whole-heartedly. Also, there is a lot of charity done during this week not only to the underprivileged and orphanages but to house-help and low-income workers; so much so that Diwali as a word has become synonymous to extra earnings in colloquial language. Intentions and sentiments count – both in giving and receiving.
Crackers are a sign of adding a spark to your spirit so that it explodes to its maximum potential.
Goddess Lakshmi is also worshipped on this day. She is a goddess of wealth. Essentially, an energy of spiritual wealth. And to worship her, it is mandatory that you spring clean the house which begins days or weeks before. Saying is that if you don’t, she won’t visit your home. The real reason is that unless you make space for positive energy, it won’t be able to come in. Other deities too are worshipped along with Lakshmi. All mantras have their individual effect on the consciousness of the person chanting or listening to it.
Harness Energy of this Day
This day is equally spiritually significant for everyone. Even if you are not in India or do not belong to a particular religion or tradition, the energies of this day can be used for your benefit.
Light a candle or lamp and meditate on the flame.
Take some time for inner reflection. Clear out the dusty thoughts. Make room for newer perspectives. Sweeten the bland notions and philosophies. Light a cracker of exuberance within.
Pause and observe your actions and reactions in the past few weeks or months. Was ego the cause of anger? Did it cause heartburns? Are you clinging to the past in any way? Is there a mature way of looking at the circumstances?
We all go through a multitude of emotional actions and reactions. If we do not allow ourselves to look within to understand the shortcomings of our own behavior, neither we would grow to be a better person nor we would be able to live or give joy.
This festival is a reminder to all of us that we should strive to keep inner light ablaze with purity and awareness.
May the wisdom of light illuminates our mind, body and spirits!