Illumine!



“Where the light is brightest, the shadows are deepest.”

- Goethe



Searching for some information on arguably one of the most important festivals in India - Diwali or, more correctly, Deepavali - I came across this laundry list. On this day, we are told:

  • “Houses are cleaned”

  • “Baths in holy rivers and oil baths are done”

  • “New clothes are worn”

  • “Gifts are exchanged”

  • “Firecrackers and fireworks”

Good heavens! Yes, they all happen, but these are all instances of men and women getting ready to welcome an auspicious occasion by sporting their smartest outfits, and putting their best behaviours on public display. While releasing rockets, and lighting diyas, candles, or sparklers are ways of celebrating this day. Let us not forget that, secretly, we all are exhibitionists at heart, and like to ‘show off’ as many so quaintly put it. No, the festival of lights is far more significant than what that article would unfortunately suggest to a good number of individuals.

Several schools of thought exist. According to some, Deepavali celebrates a particular moment in Ramayana: specifically, the homecoming, after 14 years of exile, of Lord Rama, Sita, and Laxman, along with Hanuman. Or maybe it marks Lord Krishna’s victory over Narakasura. Really? Naraka Chaturdashi? Well, Google Baba’s calendar seems to suggest so. But wait. What, then, about those who associate the festival with goddess Lakshmi? Oh, so it is also the festival of Tihar, celebrated especially in Sikkim and West Bengal, particularly the towns of Darjeeling Kalimpong, which host a large number of ethnic Nepali people’ (Wikipedia)? Believe what you will. But know that, at the end of the day, we are provided with a few moments when Good finally triumphs over Evil. And it is in the karmabhoomi of Man’s mind that the decisive battle between the two eternal adversaries is fought.

At every point in life, we are beset with problems galore. Temptations beckon, trying to win us over with their bewitching smiles. Not-so-pure intentions, prompted by envy, that well-known green-eyed monster, lead many down a slippery slope that often ends in self destruction. Weaknesses of the flesh, together with the dark desires of twisted minds, play havoc with us. For the greater part of our lives, misery reigns supreme. We wallow in self-pity, at once putting up a carefree front to deceive some and damn others with consummate skill. Hypocritical, ironic, even comical. In short, a tragic predicament.

And then, Light arrives. It floods the human soul with the dazzling brightness of a thousand suns. The shimmer and glow of the initial days leading up to the coruscating kaleidoscope of the appointed hour. An unambiguous declaration of divine deliverance. As for Darkness, it has been thoroughly routed for the moment and ruthlessly driven out. But there will be another day, another time and place, and another battle in the unending cosmic war. Darkness will always be there before Light makes its presence felt. As G. K. Chesterton had said nearly a century ago, “[t]he issue is between light and darkness and everyone must choose [his] side.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, that moment is here.

“Shine like sparkles, glow like candles and burn all the negativity like crackles. Wish you all a very lovely & cheerful Diwali.”

- Anonymous