Tomorrow is the first day of the five day festival of Diwali. And I will talk more about it tomorrow. But for today, let’s talk about the metaphor of the festival.
When we were children we looked forward to Diwali and the day after: which was a New Year for those in my com
munity.(the Gujaratis). It meant holidays from school, lots of goodies to eat, meeting up with cousins and doting aunts and uncles and of course presents.
There was also a festive spirit in the house. It was at its celebratory best; there were lights every where you looked. And finally ther
e were nights when you burst crackers that lit up the dark sky and you felt all was right with the world. This is the overt part of the festival. The sights, the sounds, the senses. The physical.
Then you grew up and went to school and read and learnt about the history behind the festival. You learnt that the legendary King Ram fought the demon Ravana and brought his wife safely back to his home ground. Aided by his staunch devotee Hanuman and his loyal brother Laxman, you learn the values of friendship, devotion and sibling. These are the values you admire and honour. This is what you understand and try to emulate. This is where you look at being good, This is where you learn that good triumphs evil. That in the end it will all be alright. This is the intellectual and the emotional part.
And then you grow older. And wiser. And life teaches you a lesson. Or two. And you celebrate the physical and the emotional. You teach that to your children but deep down inside you know that this is not about lighting lamps outside but dispelling the darkness inside. It is not about loyalty to someone else but about being true to yourself. And finally it is not about fighting your enemies but conquering your inner demons. This is the true spiritual meaning of the festival. This is the metaphor that one learns as one grows older.
And so every year, you are reminded that no matter what the battle, it is you who has to emerge triumphant.
That the evil to be conquered are your own vices, your fears, your weaknesses.
And that in the end the only way out of the darkness of ignorance is to light the path yourself.
I wish you all the enlightenment that Diwali brings. Happy Diwali!
What does Diwali mean to you. Do share in the comments below.