The festival of Diwali so deeply rooted in culture and spirituality is awaited in high spirits every year. Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word Deepavali meaning rows of light.
It was first celebrated many millennia ago when thousands of rows of lamps were lighted to celebrate the homecoming of the Supreme Lord Shri Ram after 14 long years of exile. The lamps were the manifestation of the sheer jubilance that the residents of Ayodhya experienced by welcoming their lord.
Today, Diwali has become symbolic of the rich cultural diversity as it holds a unique significance to different groups of people. Hindus celebrate it to welcome Lord Ram and Mother Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune. Sikhs celebrate it as the day their 6th guru was released from oppressive imprisonment. In Jainism it is celebrated as the Mahavir Nirvana Diwas, the day the great prophet Mahavir attained enlightenment.
As a part of the customary celebrations, businessmen tally their annual accounts on this day, people clean their houses and visit family and friends.
Among the decoration of lights, overloading of sweets, and festive buzzing of marketplaces, we hardly get to ponder the bigger picture, the real essence of celebrating Diwali.
This year, the lights will be there, sweets will be there and so will be the wishes and greetings from friends and family, but surely there will be some difference. Nature has taught us many things and if we agree to listen, we surely will succeed to understand the messages hidden in the ordeals that humanity is facing today. We may be in despair, but we are hopeful. Hopeful that some divine power will shower all the graces and affections upon us. What is needed is to wide open our arms and with all the humility and faith allow the light to flow through us, flow within us.
To transcend to the higher purpose of celebrating the festival of lights, it is important to understand the concept of darkness and light.
Light is a universal symbol for knowledge, wisdom, and truth; while darkness is universally accepted as the symbolization of ignorance. We can easily define light and materialize it as beams and rays, but darkness is formless. Why? Because darkness is not a physical entity in itself, but the absence of light. This establishes that darkness can never pervade in the presence of light and that light alone is enough to relinquish darkness.
Our existence in the material world is plunged into a pit of darkness where we suffer continuously due to a lack of knowledge and absolution of the divine truth. This darkness is nothing but the absence of the absolute truth.
The Bhagavad Gita says, “That which ordinary people declare as night, the enlightened sage declares as day.” This implies that the material world that we perceive as dark and full of sufferings, appears as an illuminated day to an enlightened sage.
Further, the Ramayan says that the souls of the world are sleeping in moh, ignorance, and in that state of sleep they see dreams.
Imagine a man who has lost his job and is in huge debt. He decides to go and watch a movie. As the screenplay starts and the plot thickens, the man is completely immersed in it and gets detached from reality. He does not remember his debt or his lost job.
This illusion prevails as long as the hall is dark. As soon as the movie stops and the lights are turned on, the man is jerked back into reality. He was laughing and enjoying the comedy movie for the past two hours but is drenched back into the gloom and despair of his situation as he is stirred to reality.
This is exactly how we are living our existence. We have turned our backs towards the divine light, who is God. Now in front of us, there is vast darkness of illusion, the absence of eternal light.
The solution to dispel this ignorance is a very simple one. Just turn your face towards God who is synonymous with knowledge, truth, and bliss
This is the spiritual endeavor we add to the cultural celebration of Diwali. So along with our customary rituals of lights, sweets, and festivities, let’s take it a step ahead this Diwali and associate our conscience to the divine consciousness. Let us absorb ourselves in His loving remembrance and He being the light himself, shall illuminate our lives with knowledge and eternal bliss.