Diwali, the Hindu ‘festival of lights’ is celebrated every year with great pomp, especially in India. This year’s celebrations got me thinking deeply about the spiritual significance of this festival. Although Diwali is popular in India and among those with Indian backgrounds, may I suggest that this celebration is relevant for all souls of the world?
During Diwali, people light lamps, set off fireworks, clean homes, open new business accounts, worship the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi, and share sweets. That led me to ask why they dedicate so much time and money to honour these customs and systems. In today’s world, sadly, it appears that all these activities have just become rituals where no one knows the meaning behind performing or celebrating them. Since ancient times, respect for these ‘tasks’ has dropped and devotees feel less interested in making accurate spiritual effort with genuine feelings. I have observed people entertaining themselves using electric candles, cake cutting and serving great amount of food including meat dishes. This behaviour seems to be driven by personal, selfish or social motives as well as ‘one-upmanship’ to show their level of wealth and as a result, I feel that the historical significance is totally lost and only a memorial is left.
In this sharing, I would like to mention the spiritual perspectives and messages I apply to these rituals in general, for Diwali in particular.
Physically lighting lamps reminds us about the divine light of us sparkling souls. It’s also worth nudging myself to ask, ‘Who lights us?’ For me, the Supreme Soul refills me with light, using spiritual knowledge and yoga.
The Hindu community says that this festival symbolizes victory over darkness or evil. In reality, this darkness refers to negativity; hurt and sorrow; body consciousness and all vices. Therefore, through Raja Yoga meditation, we are igniting the light of our original and innate qualities that are part of us, hidden but alive inside: knowledge, power, purity, peace, love and happiness.
Regrettably, most people spend excessive money on fireworks. Although the firecrackers symbolize using a matchstick of determination to rewire our thought patterns (aka sanskars or predispositions and habits), nature and behaviour, in truth, people don’t make clearer decisions. This year, the fireworks in India created so much pollution; yet the national fanfare was astonishing! And just for entertainment and celebrations. Millions of rupees went up in smoke! But, at what cost? Aside from the physical pollution, the toxins in the soul, which are already in our minds in the form of wasteful or negative thinking, wrapped in the vices are stripping us of spiritual power. Perhaps, originally, we were meant to profit by burning these spiritual bangers?
People clean every corner of their homes before Diwali. For me, this act illustrates the power of cleanliness or purity especially when it’s active in our thoughts, sanskars, nature and actions.
When creating new business accounts and wearing new clothes, people aim to forget any old, bitter relationships and create new positive relationships and use only benevolent actions.
People make and exchange sweets at Diwali, inspiring us to think sweet thoughts (pure and positive), speak sweet words and cultivate sweet, virtuous relationships.
Lastly, Hindus worship Goddess Lakshmi for her capacity to increase their wealth. However, the Brahma Kumaris’ understanding is that Sri Lakshmi is a deity, that is, a human being with divine virtues. Her wealth refers to a personal inner wealth of spiritual knowledge, virtues reflected in a divine character.
By understanding this spiritual significance, and not confining Diwali to a 1–3 day celebration, I can experience this special occasion every day. For sure, I like to celebrate all festivals for all faiths or traditions, since I now understand a deeper meaning behind each event. And in this way I get to—using a new word—‘insperience’ the true festival of lights, a festival of my inner light, the soul.
© 2016, BK Sapna