Friday, October 30, 2015

Why is diwali celebrated

Diwali, the festival of lights, was celebrated with traditional fervour across the country with people exchanging sweets and gifts with friends and relatives, decking up their houses with earthen diyas and tiny lights and illuminating the evening sky with fireworks. Children and youths burst crackers and lit sparklers while families, dressed up in their best outfits, visited their neighbours, exchanged 'Happy Diwali' greetings and sweets.

People also took the route of SMS and social networking websites to wish each other. Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya from his exile after vanquishing demon-king Ravana. In the national capital, people decorated their homes and shops with colourful 'rangolis' and flowers and lit diyas. People also celebrated Diwali in other parts of the country with traditional fervour and gaiety. Devotees thronged temples and offered prayers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the people on the occasion saying, "Lets share happiness and joy during this festive season. Share Diwali e-greetings with your family and friends." Modi today visited Jammu and Kashmir and spent some time with soldiers posted on the heights of Siachen Glacier to send the message that all Indians stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them. He also greeted President Pranab Mukherjee from the icy heights on the occasion. Modi then travelled to Srinagar to meet the flood victims in Jammu and Kashmir. In the wake of repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC, there was no exchange of sweets this time between BSF personnel and Pakistan Rangers unlike previous years.

"In the light of present scenario with Pakistan, this time India has decided not to offer sweets to Pakistan on Diwali," BSF IG, Punjab Frontier, Ashok Kumar said. During Eid festival too, no exchange of sweets took place for similar reasons. Police and fire personnel were on their toes to meet any exigencies.

Diwali fever caught up the Bollywood with celebrities including Anupam Kher, Raveena Tandon who called on their fans to remember the Kashmir flood victims on the auspicious occasion. With the environmentalists and government emphasising on celebrating a crackers-free Diwali, some celebrities urged their fans to have fireworks free Diwali. In West Bengal, people celebrated Kali puja and Diwali, with fun and frolic.

Large crowd of devotees thronged Kali temples, including the famous ones at Kalighat, Dakshineswar and Tarapith, since early morning. People in large numbers were also seen visiting Kali puja pandals, illuminated with dazzling lights in the evening. In Amritsar in Punjab, there was a large rush of devotees at the Golden Temple. They took a dip in the 'sarowar' (holy tank) and offered prayers at the Golden temple, the sanctum sanctorum, which was brightly illuminated with lights and the traditional 'diyas'.

By any standard, Diwali is the biggest festival in the Indian calendar. The festivities comprise ceremonial bathing, puja, family get-togethers and, of course, illuminations. The custom of aesthetically appealing illuminations on this day dates back to many millennia when the jubilant citizens of Ayodhya welcomed Lord Rama back to their city after His exile.

The Ramayana describes how when Lord Rama was exiled due to the misdirected intrigues of his stepmother Kaikayi, Ayodhya became almost like a ghost city. All its citizens were plunged into an ocean of sorrow and separation for 14 long years. When Lord Rama finally returned, their heart’s innermost longing was at last fulfilled. They spontaneously celebrated this joyful reunion with divine love by illuminating their houses.

This legend of Rama’s return has endured maybe because it has immense relevance to our lives. Lord Rama is the Lord of our heart, the supreme object of love and devotion for us. Due to misconceptions, we too have exiled the Lord from our hearts. Just as Ayodhya became a ghost town when Lord Rama departed, our hearts have become full with negative feelings such as anxiety, loneliness, stress, prejudice, envy, anger and hatred. And, like the citizens of Ayodhya, our lives too have become empty and joyless.

Historically speaking, the real import of Diwali is not the lighting of lamps, but the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya. So our celebration of Diwali will remain incomplete if we continue to restrict ourselves to lighting lamps. How can we welcome the Lord back into our hearts? Lord Rama himself answers this question in the Ramayana, telling us what to do. By cultivating knowledge, gained from the study of our sacred scriptures, about the Lord and His love for us, and reviving our dormant love for Him by chanting His holy names, we can invite Him back into our hearts. Therefore, while lighting the earthen lamps this Diwali, let us also light our hearts with divine wisdom and love. Today is Diwali.

No comments:

Post a Comment