It is of great significance that many cultures depict the divine as light. We may have often heard the phrase Tamaso ma Jyotir Gamaya (Lead us from darkness unto light).
Light is the ultimate goal. It is from darkness that we all strive towards becoming the best we can. Diwali or Deepavali is a significant festival in Hinduism that will be celebrated on the darkest night (amavasya) by Hindus across the globe.
This is perhaps the most well-known of the Indian festivals: it is celebrated throughout India, as well as in Indian communities throughout the diaspora. Every human being experiences life by the way of both pain and pleasure. In order to grow and attain our full potential, this journey of trials and tribulations is essential. Diwali symbolises this process. This festival of goodness over evil is the pinnacle of all religious activities for the year. Diwali is characterised by rejoicing, mutual friendship and sharing. The celebration of this joyous festival signifies the removal of all darkness, jealousy, greed, envy and other negative emotions. In its place shines the light of wisdom and knowledge.
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Even though the night sky is enveloped in darkness, the rows of little lamps provide hope and a pathway towards peace and happiness. This is also the reason why so many lamps are left burning on Diwali night .Lighting of lamps or diyyas during Diwali signifies the triumph of virtue over vice, of good over evil, of light over darkness and of knowledge over ignorance.
This enchanting and popular festival with its sanctity, splendour, rejoicing and festivity does not only unify the Hindus of all castes and nationalities, but in reality blankets the whole world with the feeling and thoughts of Goodwill, love, brotherhood and charity. Thus Diwali brings out the full potential to experience life on a positive level.
The external ethics of Deepavali heralding in happiness, stability and security, peace and prosperity, is profoundly meaningful to our world. To save ourselves, mankind needs to learn from the lessons of universalism and humanism of Deepavali and Hindu Dharma that is enshrined in such basic tenets as: The world is one family, may we look at all with a friendly eye, God is one, and the wise describe the one Supreme Being in various forms. It is only this realisation that all human beings, regardless of race, religion, colour or creed are equal children of the one God that will stop the senseless destruction of man by man. It is only when we understand that God is present in all things that we recognise the sanctity of all beings, respect the dignity and divinity in all beings and treat all life as sacred.
The light of Deepavali urges us to help the poor and needy, the sick and the starving and the forlorn and forgotten. For Deepavali to be meaningful, its spirit of good will and generosity must flow beyond the event itself and diffuse into and direct our daily lives. In order for us to face the challenges and solve the problems in this day and age, we need to individually replace the darkness within ourselves with the striking light of righteousness. We need to eradicate the ‘dark’ habits of greed, lust, jealousy, selfishness and hate and replace them with virtuous qualities of love and selflessness. Let us not keep finding faults in others but identify faults in ourselves and rectify them. If the individual grows with admirable qualities then society will reflect this.
The upward movement of the flame in a lamp beckons man to pursue the road to progress and urges him to ascend spiritually through sacrifice and service to mankind. The clay lamp burning with ease and grace, equally brilliant whether in a hut or bungalow, imparts the lesson that all humans are born equal, irrespective of their colour or creed. The lamp is a reminder for the upliftment of the individual, free of linguistic, social, cultural, religious, political and other dividing influence that separates us from one another. Even in the darkest of days one should not despair .The little shimmering lamps beckon one to never quit, pick yourself up and pursue the path of light, moksha (liberation) from our various levels of despair will surely be attained.
On behalf of the Estcourt Hindu Cultural Society I would like to wish all Hindus a joyous, blessed and prosperous Deepavali. May the festival of lights continue to transcend barriers, illuminate our hearts, rekindle the divine spiritual spark within us, and help bring back love, goodwill, harmony, peace and a sense of brotherhood amongst all, thereby uniting all of mankind. May the loving Lord light up the lives of all human beings with peace, progress, prosperity, health, harmony and happiness.
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