It is that time of the year - the time to light lamps and drive away darkness. Legend has it that Lord Ram, his wife Sita and his brother Laksman made a triumphant return to their kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and after defeating the evil king Ravan. The people of Ayodhya were happy to see their king after 14 years and celebrated his return by lighting lamps and setting off fire crackers.
Legend also has it that during another era, people rejoiced the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakasur. (In reality, it was Krishna's wife Satyabhama who killed Narakasur), but whatever - the essence of Diwali , in summary , is the victory of good over evil. It signifies the victory of positive energy over negative forces.
I love the symbolism of Diwali. To my mind, Diwali transcends all religions, as it is truly a festival of fun. Thing about it - by lighting oil lamps, one can drive away the cold and the dark of a November evening. It is the time to drive away the demons of ignorance and acquire knowledge. The time to drive away with hate and bring in love. The time to send sadness packing and bring in the light of joy and happiness.
My memories of Diwali are pretty much similar to those of millions of my generation. Preparations used to start about a week early. My mother used to start making sweets and other savouries at home. We children used to have a ball sampling all the goodies that were being made. We had even more fun eating them behind mum's back, without her knowledge. Then there was the excitement of buying new clothes - all the planning and the dreaming and then the interminable wait to wear them. Dad would meet with fire cracker sellers and we would have a noisy debate about what to buy and in what quantities. And then, on D-day, we would wake up real early and have a nice oil massage before taking a piping hot water bath. We would wear our new clothes, and then hit the streets - bursting crackers, meeting friends and swapping notes on who had what in their fire cracker kitty. The 3 days of Diwali would be spent eating and playing. No home work, no house work, no studying... none of the worries of childhood. Just pure, unadulterated fun!
As an adult, I know that all children do not have access to these simple joys and that makes me sad. It makes me sad that many children in this world will not experience what should be theirs by right. As we all celebrate Diwali this year, let us spare a moment to think of those children and send up a special prayer for them. That is the least we can do.
Dear readers, I wish you all a very Happy Diwali. I wish you have your loved ones with you to share it and I wish you fill up your store of happy memories to take with you throughout your lives. To those of you whose new year begins at this time, wish you a very happy new year. My wish to all is:
असतोमा सत गमय, तमसोमा ज्योतिर गमय, मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय
(From untruth to truth , from darkness to light , from mortality to immortality ...)