If you see the heading carefully I didn’t write ‘lights.’ The lights outside, in form of candles, bulbs, tubes and lamps is a symbol of inner light which is to be kindred. The life is a flux and stale formulae can’t lead you to love, joy and bliss. If you walk in a dark room you will keep knocking your head every now and then. You will bump into the walls and things. You may not do so if the house is familiar static house but when it’s changing everyday? Similarly, life is changing every moment. Every situation is a unique situation. Experience helps you but not always. Discrimination and inner light of wisdom is what guides you to happiness.
Festivals like Diwali and Hanukkah celebrate worship with light. Hindus have always used fire for worship. Agni is fire god. Mystic fire is divine goddess of life and wisdom present inside you. Jews also celebrate Hanukkah with light. Parsis worship fire and Christians have burnt candles inside churches since forever. These days it’s not to just to get light but to worship because electric light is available. The outer fire is a symbol and inner fire is the essence.
Diwali celebration has a myth behind it. Dussehra which comes a few days before Diwali is celebration and commemoration of ancient war in which Ram slayed demon Ravana. This marks victory of goodness over evil. Right over wrong. Diwali was first celebrated when Ram reached back to the capital of his kingdom about 7000 years ago. Since it was a dark night of Amavasya, residents of Ayodhya lit thousands of lamps and welcomed their darling prince Ram who came after 14 long and difficult years winning the epic war of Ramayana in Lanka. Since then it has been celebrated. Who knows how many phases it has taken and how many changes it has undergone–but it is one of the biggest festivals in India. Celebrations keep going on for 5 days.
It’s a honeymoon season for markets too. There are many sales and offers. Bursting crackers is one of the biggest attractions for kids apart from sweet delicacies. Mystic Osho remarked once that India is the only country which worships money. On Diwali, other deities are also worshipped but Laxmi, the goddess of fortune, wealth and prosperity is the chief guest in houses. Lord Ganesha, remover of obstacles and Goddess Sarasvati, giver of wisdom and learning is also worshipped.
People also play lottery and gamble heavily on this night. I don’t know how gambling got associated with this festival but it must not be too strange when favorite pastime of our grand old Pandavas used to be gambling. Does India really worship money? Wealth? Prosperity? Money surely, I don’t know about prosperity because prosperity is not directly associated to money.
I stopped bursting crackers when I was in the eighth class when I read in the newspaper that many billion rupees worth of firecrackers are burst on Diwali. No doubt it gives a job to many poor people too. But on the whole it is like war–war gives work to many people–that doesn’t make war desirable, does it? Similarly bursting crackers is waste of money. Polluting air. Many people suffering from asthma, especially very old and young people have a difficult time for many hours on this night. The air gets polluted to a great extent with hazardous smoke.
This is not it–many people get burnt because of playing with fire. I feel the money which is wasted on crackers can be utilized better in feeding the poor. Winter is already here so if you can give a quilt or shawl to a poor person with the same money or feed them–it will be a better use of money than just showing off to your neighbors that you have plenty of crackers and money. In a few hours it becomes smoke and leaves air polluted and when it burns it creates pain for many by creating such loud sounds. Celebrations have to be loud that is understood but why create such a costly ado?
Many people are becoming better educated. A few kids told me they stopped bursting crackers and I was glad to hear it. I feel educating people is the way to create change. Spread awareness and be the change you want to see in the world. I wish you all a very healthy, happy, safe, prosperous and enlightening Diwali.
image courtesy: here