Diwali – Essence of the Indian festival of Lights

Dr. Mike Ghouse   October 27, 2014   Comments Off on Diwali – Essence of the Indian festival of Lights

Diwali is the Indian festival of lights and is celebrated on a large scale throughout India and the Indian Diaspora. It is also celebrated in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Guyana, West Indies, Fiji, and of course, here in the United States. Diwali is about hope, Diwali brings light, Diwali signifies end of darkness and Diwali signifies end of ignorance and beginning of enlightenment. You can greet your friends with any one of these phrases, “Happy Diwali”, “Diwali Mubarak”, Diwali ki Shubh Kamnayein” and the very Best of Diwali to you.

Diwali is spelled differently, and is called by many names. There is Divali among others, and Deepavali, meaning the festival of lights. Although Diwali is a Hindu tradition, many a people of different faiths participate in celebrations – Jains, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and others of India and Indian origins.
People decorate their homes with lights and Rangoli, i.e., colorful drawing in the front yard of the home, sidewalks, even roads in India with colorful powders or colorful pieces of chalk. Women and Children look forward to expressing their artistic talent in this season. Their surroundings filled with colorful lights to enliven the day, to mark the dawn of a new era in one’s life.

My childhood is filled with good memories of Diwali; the sparklers, the food and everything joyous you can imagine.
A few years ago, Jyoti and Nishi Bhatia, former President of DFW Hindu Temple and President of Dallas Hindi Association respectively, asked me to speak about Diwali in a dinner gathering to a group of people from different faiths and cultures, and I cherished it, I love talking about Diwali, as its essence reflects the ideals of pluralism, and symbolizes hope and positive energy, victory of good over evil; a new beginning. It is indeed seeing the light at the end of tunnel.

Diwali Celebration is a part of the epic Ramayana, and the Ram Lila (enactment of the story on stage) is played out all night long in towns across India. I grew up watching it in front of my house, and my friends played different roles in the show. Indeed, one of my former relatives played Hanuman’s role.

It was a challenge for me to teach Ramayana to a group of people who knew nothing about it. It turned out to be a successful program. I prepared the nearly all white audience that I will be narrating the story through the power point and along will be reinforcing the names and roles of the key persons in the story and will ask them for feed back at the end. Friends, I cannot tell you the joy, the Bhatias and I felt when each one of them answered the questions from the story. They got it! It is a powerful story and takes about 30 minutes to narrate.

The epic is filled with educative tales, edifying poems, and fables. It is probably through their constant retelling in the villages over centuries that Hinduism is most efficiently disseminated from generation to generation.
Whenever a society rots with adharma (wrong path), where no one cares about the other, lying, stealing and dishonesty become rampant, Lord Krishna says,I will emerge among you and restore the righteousness and trust in the society to function smoothly.” Zarathustra, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, Nanak, Mahavira, Confucius, Tao and others served the same purpose. it is almost like the laws of physics ; water finds its own level, and righteousness finds its own existence.

Rama is one such incarnation who reestablished the moral code for social conduct and proper relation of mankind to divinity. He was truthful and a just king.
Diwali symbolizes hope and positive energy
People wear new clothes
Share sweets as a symbol of happiness
Renew the relationships
Strengthen the bonds
It signifies a new beginning, starting out fresh.
for most businesses it is the new financial year
An inventory of assets is taken
An assessment of family and relationship
Last harvest for the farmers
New things are bought
To those celebrating Diwali, I wish you, your families and loved ones Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak.”
Today, on this blessed day, we have a blank slate to start, let’s plan on filling it with doing good things for ourselves, to our family, friends, community, nation and the world until next Diwali.
What are good things? Words and actions that bring peace, Mukti, salvation, Moksha, nirvana, Nijaat and freedom to us, yes us. There is so much of joy waiting to be had. If we can remove hatred and anger towards others, forgive others and ask for forgiveness (Michami Dukadam is a beautiful phrase the Jain’s use), then a blissful year is sure to come for each one of you and me.
May this Diwali purge your heart, mind and soul from hate, malice, anger and ill-will;
May this Diwali open your hearts and minds towards fellow being;
May this Diwali brighten your life, and may this Diwali mark the dawn of a new era;
Muslims are a big part of Diwali as well, and innumerable poets have written poetries and songs about Diwali. Here is my effort, I wrote this seven years ago on the occasion when Diwali and Ramadan were celebrated around the same time.
ये मेरी दिवाली है, ये मेरी ईद है
दोनों में खुशी ही खुशी है
A meri diwali hai, a meri eid hai
donon may khushi hi khushi hai –
दिवाली से नया साल शुरू होता है
रमज़ान एक नया इंसान बनाता है
Diwali say naya saal shuru hota hai
Ramzan ek naya insaan banata hai –
दिवाली मैं एक एक बात का हिसाब होता है
रमज़ान में हर बात का रिव्यू होता है
Diwali may ek ek baat ka hisab hota hai
Ramzan may her baat ka review hota hai –
दिवाली नए साल के लिए क्लीन स्लेट देता है
रमज़ान पिछले साल का स्लेट क्लीन करता है
Diwali nayay saal ke liye clean slate deta hai
Ramzan pichlay saal ki slate clean karta hai –
बात ही बात में मैंने एक नयी नज़्म लिख दी साहिर
दिवाली और रमज़ान से सबका अच्छा ही होता है
Baat hi baat may, my nay a sher likh diya Sahir
Diwali aur Ramzan say subka acha hi hota hai
Happy Diwali to you my friends, may this Diwali bring happiness, serenity and peace to you. Amen!
दोनों में खुशी ही खुशी है

Thank you
Mike Ghouse
(214) 325-1916 text/talk

Published at:
Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. All about him is listed in several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.comand 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.