Can you really capture happiness and joy in words?
The happiness and the joy of life that Deepavali (Diwali) is defies description. No amount of words can do justice to the fullness of this fantastic occasion. No amount of imagination can capture the comradeship people feel on this day. No thrill of creativity can paint the exuberance of our life-spirit coming to the forefront on this day.
Deepavali is in the realm of experience. I’ve experienced its vibrancy in my younger days in India. Since then, I’ve had many experiences globally in several cultures and across several life-dimensions. But none can match my Deepavali experience. There is something special and unique about this celebration that stays with you for ever.
People say we celebrate Deepavali. I say it is Deepavali that celebrates us. It celebrates the true me.
Deepavali is an amazing sight in India. Not because of its colors – which India is famous for, or its sounds – which India lets out without holding back a single note or decibel, or its chaos – which India thrusts on the casual observer powerfully. It is amazing because you see the “we are all together” feeling in the air. Wealth, poverty, caste, religion, language, age – none of these seem to matter on this day. Everyone feels the bond of comradeship in a natural way on a personal level.
Deepavali, also called Diwali, Divali, Dhanteras, Naraka Chaturdasi,Diwali Padva, Bhau-beej, is a national festival across all parts of India. Just like anything else in India, there is a vibrancy that is distinct and unique in the way each part of the country celebrates it. It is also a national festival in Nepal and a few other countries. Indians who have taken up residence abroad celebrate Deepavali with fervor every year where they live – be it USA, UK or other countries. But it is not the same as what happens in India.
Wikipedia’s summary of Deepavali is interesting and informative. You can read it here.
A few pictures to partially convey the un-conveyable joy of Deepavali –
Thank God, I have forearms! [Source]
“The Rangoli of Lights”[Source]
Working together to create a beauty ! [Source]
Diwali fireworks [Source]
Mind-boggling creativity at work [Source]
I’m putting my diet-plan on hold! [Source]
In addition to spending about $ 800 M in firecrackers, watching all that money go up literally in smoke and coming away with priceless memories, the day of Deepavali is a delight day for the dietary and digestive tracks in man. Food items galore. Sweets in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors appear from everywhere and are shared. Both work and willpower take a holiday on this day. Using the excuse that it is impolite to turn down an offer of sweets, I plunge into the world of sweets. Thankfully, I have had clever, creative and compassionate grandmothers in my lineage. They have concocted a culinary recipe which I believe is nothing short of a stroke of genius. They’ve left it behind so I can afford to plunge into the world of sweets. Their creation, a powerful digestion-helper, is the famous “deepavali marundhu” or “deepavali lehiyam”. Deepavali celebration is not complete without partaking a spoonful of deepavali marundhu after meals. Here is a picture of it.
Easily the best, if not most beneficial, culinary creation by man! [Source]
What is the true significance of Deepavali? Why do I celebrate it?
Deepavali literally means a row of lighted lamps. This has great significance in my daily life. The Deepavali day reminds me of this significance. The festivity of the day exhorts me to act per the reminder.
The demon, asura, named Naraka is killed on this day. Hence the day is celebrated as Narakasura vadam (elimination of Narakasura). Nara means the Indweller in me. Nara also means man. “ka” means “beneath”, “at a lower level than”. Naraka means lower level than man. Naraka also means hell. Asura means demon. When I behave beneath the human level, my behavior is demonic only. My external appearances do not matter. It is my conduct that determines whether I’m human, demonic or divine. With demonic thoughts and conduct, the place I live is hell only. Hence naraka means both the conduct beneath that of a human and the resulting hellish experience.
Narakasura is me only when I conduct myself in a sub-human way and behave demonically. My first sub-human thought is I’m an individual (vyashti jeevi). I conduct myself on this basis with selfishness and self-aggrandizement. I develop desires, anger and greed on this basis. I develop jealousy, miserliness, pride and attachment on this basis. These are my naraka thoughts, characteristics and conduct that make me an asura and not a nara. This is how I’ve become a narakasura.
Elimination, vadam, of the narakasura aspect in me takes place on this day. I must learn to think that I’m not just an individual (vyashti jeevi) but actually a cosmic being (samashti jeevi).
I must understand that the cosmic being really has infinite heads, infinite eyes, infinite feet and is present everywhere as all pervasiveness. The purusha suktam says so – sahasra seersha purushah sahasraakshah sahasra paat |
I must not be enemytic to my fellow beings but must truly develop amiability towards them. I, as an individual, cannot live alone. I can live only as a part of the cosmic being. I must relate to others lovingly, sharing my love with them in a selfless manner. When I do this, my selfish desires, anger, greed and jealousy begin to decline and disappear. The narakasura aspect of me becomes weaker and ultimately goes away.
This is what the row of lit lamps, Deepavali, means. A row of lamps is lit to win over the narakasura aspect in me. Some of the lamps (partial list only) I must light today in my mind to achieve this:
Lamp 1: Tyaja durjana samsargam. Run away from bad company.
Lamp 2: Bhaja sadhu samaagamam. Seek and keep company of the good
Lamp 3: Kuru punyam ahoratram. Do all actions in the company of God, day and night
Lamp 4: Cultivate good feelings, good thoughts, good speech and good behavior.
Lamp 5: Help the needy.
Lamp 6: Hurt no one.
Lamp 7: Speak the truth.
Lamp 8: Conduct myself in a dharmic way
Lamp 9: Offer all I do, and don’t do, to Bhagavan.
To light these lamps, I need a source of light. This source of light is the Love within me. With the light of Love in me, I light these lamps. Then, I watch them. The happiness, joy and exuberance I experience then is beyond words. It is only in the realm of experience.
This is Deepavali.
By lighting the lamps of Deepavali in my mind, I become a more loving person. What else can bring peace? Seriously.
Happy and loving Deepavali wishes to you, dear reader!