HAPPY DIWALI… The festival of Light

This past weekend was the Hindu festival of Diwali. I have a dear friend who knows much about her roots (unlike me!) and I asked her to send me the true meaning of this wonderful festival ( see below).

As I was re educating myself with the True meaning of Diwali, I had many moments of awareness. Diwali is the celebration of inner light but it is the outer light that we see. We light lamps, candles, even strings of Christmas lights to show that we are inviting light into our homes and hearts. I remember as a child growing up in Trinidad, I would fill clay pots with oil and roll cotton into wicks and place them all along the edges of the garden. It was magical.

Then in later years when I went to India and saw strings of Christmas lights I was disappointed that the original clay pots were not being used.  I was told that the fire hazard was too great. OK, that makes sense.

Thank you to Bindya for the wonderful description below.

The name Diwali is itself a contraction of the word “Deepavali” (Sanskrit: दीपावली Dīpāvalī), which translates into row of lamps. Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

While Deepavali is popularly known as the “festival of lights”, the most significant spiritual meaning is “the awareness of the inner light”. Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. The celebration of Deepavali as the “victory of good over evil”, refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Ananda (joy or peace). Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Deepavali is the celebration of this Inner Light.

While the story behind Deepavali and the manner of celebration varies from region to region (festive fireworks, worship, lights, sharing of sweets), the essence is the same – to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying Reality of all things (Brahman).

Deepavali marks the end of the harvest season in most of India. Farmers give thanks for the bounty of the year gone by, and pray for a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the agrarian cycle, and is the last major celebration before winter. Lakshmi symbolizes wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.

As per spiritual references, on this day “Lakshmi-panchayatan” enters the Universe. Vishnu, Indra, Kubera, Gajendra and Lakshmi are elements of this “panchayatan” (a group of five). The tasks of these elements are:

  • Lakshmi:        Divine Energy (Shakti) which provides energy to all the above activities.
  • Vishnu:            Happiness (happiness and satisfaction)
  • Kubera:            Wealth (generosity; one who shares wealth)
  • Indra:                Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
  • Gajendra:        Carries the wealth

Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen year long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.

If you are as amazed with the symbolism as I am here are some practical steps to make the symbolic real.

1. Know that WEALTH first means emotional and spiritual wealth. To make ourselves vulnerable enough to admit that at times we are emotionally and spiritually bankrupt is no easy thing.

2. Be courageous enough to wipe the slate clean of old hurts and toxicities in your life. This does not mean to go back to being abused or back into the path of destructive people, but to learn the lessons and allow yourself to make better decisions the next time. The holiday season is upon us, make different decisions for your self this year ones that will not drain you emotionally, spiritually or financially.

3.FORGIVE YOURSELF for everything you think you have done wrong.

4. Set an intention… a clear intention, to attract new wealth into your life. What elements in your life do you want to be different? Into what parts of your life are you inviting more abundance?

5. CLEAR out the cobwebs in your thinking so you will recognize abundance when you see it. I had an epiphany about my physical abundance during the summer when I was fussing about my fat upper arms and saw a woman who had been burnt on 70 percent of her body and she was happy to wear short sleeves. What a wake up call to me!

NAMASTE… The Light in me sees and respects the Light in YOU.