I am in the balcony. The glancing mini LEDs connected in series have created an aureate façade with their Moroccan design. The dazzling blaze of the clay candles is amplifying the exquisiteness of rangoli (colorful patterns on the floor). I wonder how intelligently and artistically LIGHT has been created by Mother Nature. It combines and separates all the extant colors and bestows us the ability to feel them. There seems to be no place for obscurity, sadness, fear, anxiety and darkness. Such is the power light holds within! I am drowned in the gleaming light as well as the sweet memories of Diwali.
The celebration of victory of light over darkness, good over evil and hope over despair is what Diwali is. The preparation itself beholds excitement. Cleaning every nuke and corner of the house sometimes brings surprises in form of old photographs; the unique scent of freshly painted walls purges the despair; emblazoned houses make the excitement unlimited. The saying “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is followed verbatim. Moreover, this is the time when entire family sits together and prepares sweets and savories for the festival.
This bonding over cooking is a great stress buster and a powerful way to increase affection in the family. Further, hand painted and bejeweled clay candles, artistic and colorful rangoli patterns on the floors make one wonder how our ancestors kept the life so simple yet knew the formula for prosperity.
Diwali is celebrated every year on the no-moon night of the month of Kartik according to the Hindu lunar calendar. As per the Gregorian calendar, it falls on any day between mid- October to Mid November every year. It is a five day festival which commences two days before the no-moon night. The first day (Dhanteras) marks for the birthday of Laxmi - the goddess of wealth and prosperity. It is also a major shopping day when people buy gold and silver articles, jewelry etc. The second day called Narak Chaturdashi celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasur. This is the spa day when people wake up before sun rise, massage their bodies with oils and nourish them using home-made spa packs. This ablution also signifies the catharsis of mind and soul. The third day is Diwali when Goddess Laxmi is worshipped for prosperity and good luck. This day is also the day when Lord Ram came back to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. The people of Ayodhya decorated their houses with candles, prepared sweets and let off fireworks to welcome their dear Lord Ram. The fourth day marks the importance of cattle in our lives. This is the day to appreciate and worship the cattle. The fifth day ritually emphasizes the love and lifelong bond between siblings. Sisters pray for the long lives of their brothers and brothers give gifts and a promise of lifelong affection to their sisters.
Sweets and savories are innate to this festival. These home-made snacks are eaten with gratitude and respect. Each recipe is a heritage, the goodness of which is passed on to the next generation. They are prepared together by all the members of the family with the trust that the mithai shall be valued and enjoyed. These are not just sweets but a symbol of giving and receiving love. Similarly, the candles and lamps not only means decorating and lighting up an area but it also means getting rid of all the darkness which prevails in our minds in form of anger, jealousy, laziness and materialistic obsessions. Thus the spirit of this festival bespeak about filling prosperity, love, respect, hope and light in our lives.
For me, this festival has always been more spiritual and purging than religious. I have learnt that:
Cleansing of hearts is more important than cleaning our houses. Strict and regular introspection can pave the way to purging our souls and minds. Observing others’ good qualities and absorbing can become the cherry on cake.
Prosperity and poverty are two faces of same coin – the Life. Only calmness above and peace within can lead to a contented life.
Knowledge is the best light in the entire world. Practice of continuously acquiring knowledge, absorbing it and implementing it is what Diwali teaches us.
Reducing our consumption and acquiring only that is needed shall reduce waste. Yearly cleaning of houses is a good way to get rid of all those things which are no longer in use and which can be given to the needy.
Filling the heart with gratitude for the goodness on the plate, recognizing the food for what it is as a whole, rather than fats, proteins and carbohydrates surely provide the optimum nourishment. Not a single particle of food must be wasted as it is cooked with love and affection, and is offered to us as the most valuable thing needed for our survival.
Astronaut Paolo Nespoli shared a sneak peek of India from space during Diwali. (Source: @astro_paolo/Twitter)
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About the Author: Garima Gupta