This past week India and the Indian Diaspora celebrated Diwali, the Festival of Light. This is also the beginning of the New Year.
Diwali or Deepavali is a joyous occasion. It is a time to get together with family and friends. We think it is also important to spend a bit of time to think about the real meaning behind this joyous festival. Joy, celebration comes after unhappiness, misery, pain is vanquished. Light can only shine when it is collectively lit to eliminate darkness. So make a resolution in the New Year to do something to remove at least a bit of darkness from minds and lives.
The Sanskrut word Deepavali means a “Vali” (row) of “Deep” (light or lamps). This name was shortened to more colloquial Diwali over the past several centuries. So light is both a physical and spiritual embodiment of Diwali.
In this New Year, we will try to highlight stories that illustrate the spiritual and human meaning of Diwali, stories of determined people and organizations that have dedicated themselves to removing darkness from human lives, stories that live the ancient and eternal invocation from Brihad-Aranyak-UpaNiSad:
Lead me from Darkness to Light
Allow us to share some pictorial Diwali greetings received from our well wishers.
Notice the lovely portrayal of Shree Ganesh in the above right picture of Aakash-Kandil or Lanterns. Ganesh or Ganapati is described as विघ्न-हर्ता (Vighna-harta), the remover of obstacles and सकल-मति-प्रकाशु (sakal-mati-prakashu), the one who illuminates the minds of all humanity.
Imagine all darkess has fled from your mind and life, the darkness of unhappiness, the darkness of ill-will, the darkness of pain, the darkness of ill-health, the darkness of financial needs, the darkness of any negative aspect in any part of life. What does your mind, body and life look like then? What does society look like when all people experience such a complete absence of darkness?
That state of sublime light, that blissful peace of soul, mind, and body is called Svasti. This is why the central symbol of Indian Culture is the Invocator of Svasti or the Svastik. That is the real symbol of Diwali.
Look at this picture. Embrace its peace and light. When you do, you will see the true meaning of the eternal Sanskrut greeting:
Let Svasti be with You
That is our sincere wish and greeting to all readers for this Diwali and for the New Year.
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