Reflections from the Festival of Lights



Being in India, we are privileged to experience so many occasions of festivities all throughout the year. For every such occasion, there is a magnanimous history behind. And the celebrations become even more joyful and successful if we are aware of the purpose why the celebration is being held and is going on from time immemorial. According to the Sanatana Dharma, human life is meant for purification of our existence and this become easier by aligning our lives with the guidelines of God. And festivals are the occasions when we get the best of the opportunities to practice spirituality.

Diwali or Deepavali is one of the most celebrated festivals of all. People from all sections of life, participate in it with great joy and enthusiasm. It is a five-day festival beginning with Naraka Chaturdasi, Deep Daan or Deepavali day, Bali Pratipada and ends with Bhaiya Duj. Every mentioned day is historically significant and the most important day of Deepavali is the day when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after his 14 years of exile ended. In scriptures, we can find vivid descriptions of all the activities that signify the celebration of each mentioned day. On the day of Diwali, people decorate their homes with rows of lamps or Diyas, and other lightings, hence the name: festival of lights. So, the central point of this article is not just to glorify the festival and its historical significance but also to try to figure out what should be our mood or intention while celebrating these festivals.

Ideally, during Deepavali, people in India have the tradition of cleaning their houses and places of work, decorate them very nicely and wear nice dresses and distribute all the delicacies prepared at home to relatives and near and dear ones to promote brotherhood and friendship. Over the years, people have still been able to successfully execute these duties which seem so obvious and natural, but there is something missing as a result of which we are not completely satisfied.

As the current scenario of people and their lifestyle suggests, the inherent or core principles of celebrating the festival of Deepavali has been diluted. People have misunderstood the spiritual significance and what remains is mere rituals (Spiritual – Spirit = Ritual). In the quest of getting happiness, people are focusing merely on the externals and forgetting the internals. Along with external purity, we also need internal purification. And the lack of this knowledge has led to so much of deviation when it comes to celebrating such auspicious occasions.

One needs to be firmly convinced that external and internal purification go hand in hand. Leaving one at the cost of other is certainly not recommended. India is the hub of Vedic and spiritual knowledge, and it is the responsibility of all of us to propagate the knowledge that is so important. We need to understand that these festivals are the occasions when we can live lives of Austerity, Sacrifice, Knowledge and association of Saintly people. And by understanding these principles, we can at least try to elevate our position and inspire others also to follow in the same direction, ultimately leading to peace, happiness, good health, longevity, and prosperity, which we are so desperately striving for.

Looking forward to hearing from the readers.

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