THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

Diwali is the festival of lights that marks the end of Rama’s fourteen years of exile alongwith Sita and Lakshmana after vanquishing Ravana and conquering Lanka and the wholehearted welcome to them by the people of Ayodhya by illuminating the city of Ayodhya. The celebration of this festival is not of utmost significance to Hindus only but to the people at large irrespective of their religious affiliations. Diwali holds special significance for Indians as the nation has a multi-religious composition and every festival finds participation of people belonging to all communities upholding the ages old secular ethos in this region. Thus festivals are not only the personal, family, and social occasions of fun and merriment for us, but also the occasions for prayer and worship for self realization, peace prosperity among all the communities. As we celebrate this Diwali it is time to reiterate our commitment to Austerity which is by any yardstick one of the greatest virtues of a human being acknowledged by almost all the religions followed in India. With the global scenario across the world being quite dismal especially in view of the evil forces having ganged up against the civilized society in the form of Terrorism and justifying the same by wrongly labelling it as Jehad, there is a dire need to realize the real meaning and essence of all the festivals celebrated under the banner of different religions. It is not just the festive mood in the air that makes you happy on Diwali, or just that it’s a good time to enjoy before the advent of winter but there are 10 mythological and historical reasons why Diwali is a great time to celebrate. The Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi’s incarnation took place on this day; Lord Vishnu in his fifth incarnation as Vaman-Avtara rescued Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali on this day; on the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakaasur and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity after which the celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day; the Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice on this day and the subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps; one of the greatest Hindu Kings Vikramaditya’s coronation took place on the Diwali day; Maharishi Dayananda, one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism and the founder of Arya Samaj attained his nirvana on this day; Mahavir Tirthankar considered to be the founder of modern Jainism attained his nirvana on Diwali day; the third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a Red-Letter Day when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings and in 1577 the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid on Diwali. In 1619, the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind, who was held by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir, was released from the Gwalior fort alongwith 52 kings on this day. Last but not the least in 1999, Pope John Paul II performed a special Eucharist in an Indian church where the altar was decorated with Diwali lamps, the Pope had a Tilak’ marked on his forehead and his speech was bristled with references to the festival of lights. Such a marvelous history behind Diwali celebrations gives all the good reasons not just for Hindus to celebrate but also for all others irrespective of their religious affiliations to celebrate this great Festival of Lights. So let the people of this great nation take a pledge to illuminate the nation by cleansing the minds, purifying the hearts, following the path of love, peace and mercy besides conducting ourselves for the good of the society and the mankind at large as the same is direly needed today.