Every festival teaches us some life lessons. I was wondering what the Festival of Lights can teach us. First we need to understand that it is celebrated across India by the name “Deepavali” but it has different folk lores. In the south of India and parts of west and east of India it is celebrated for the killing of demons called Narkasur & Mahisasur by the Gods. On the other hand in most of north India, it is celebrated as the return of Lord Rama from the forest after serving a 14 year deportation term.
Either way it is celebrated with the bursting of crackers , creative expression of design forms on the entrance of homes called rangoli and lighting of lamps to decorate homes. In the south of India it is celebrated at dawn and in the north it is celebrated at dusk. Either way the decorative lamps and the bursting of fire crackers transforms the environment from darkness to light.
Diwali or Deepavali as it is called is the Festival of Lights, colourful rangolis and bursting of crackers. It signifies the victory of good over evil and the return of a popular king to his people. While most of the traditions of the past continue with festive fervour, the lessons of this wonderful festival is forgotten in some way.
In my view one of the best learnings one can carry from the Festival of Lights is cleaning your home and your mind. Every household spends a lot of time in cleaning their home, painting them and decorating them much before the festival arrives. It may also be a good time to clean our minds of the unwanted memories stored in them. While we may be superficially cleaning our homes today, it is a great opportunity to make our environs more hygienic and our minds clearer and more peaceful.
Another important lesson one can learn from this festival is to enlighten ourselves and bring light into the life of others. This is an opportunity to transform ourselves. We can sit back and reflect on our own lives. We can bring fresh thinking into our minds and let our inner selves to get more illuminated. This festival also gives us an opportunity to bring light into the lives of other human beings by being of some help to them. In a way, we can illuminate the life of others through our deeds.
The third and the most important significance of this festival is to drive away evil thoughts from our mind. The bursting of crackers today may be polluting the environment due to the chemicals used in them. But, the spirit of this practise was more to drive away the demons and welcome the good in us. While we have fervently continued to burst crackers, we have forgotten the purpose of it and the spirit of this ritual.
We tend to remember the physical part of the rituals and practise them. We conveniently forget the spirit and purpose of these rituals. It may be time to reawaken ourselves. It may be the right time to kindle our spirits. We need to enlighten ourselves by living the rituals in letter and spirit.
It is time to clean our environment as much as our minds. It is time to think afresh and forget all the bad memories of the past. It is an opportunity to forgive the people who have hurt us and befriend them again. The joy of forgiveness is to be experienced to be believed. This way we can enlighten ourselves as much as bring light into the life of others around us.
Time to enlighten ourselves is today.
S Ramesh Shankar
7th November 2018