Let Your Inner Light Shine!

4 11 2010

Happy Deepavali (Diwali)! The other festival of lights…….

Tomorrow is Diwali the Hindu Festival of Lights and the most important festival for Hindus for the entire year. Here in Guyana it is recognized as a National Holiday so that means everyone gets to celebrate. The celebration starts with a motorcade that travels to different parts of the country and consists of about 10-20 pick-up trucks with every inch covered in blinking Christmas lights and children dressed up in the back depicting different scenes from famous stories. The insides of the trucks are decorated to the gills and lights are everywhere! It is FANTASTIC and reminds me a little bit of Christmas parades. I didn’t get to see the motorcade this year, but was in Georgetown last year for it.

Since it’s the festival of lights many people lay out divas (pronounced: diyas), small clay pots that are filled with coconut oil and wicks then lit on fire. They put them in windows, lay them out in driveways, walkways, stairways, and all over the front yard. It is beautiful to see so many lights everywhere. The children and teenagers also set off lots of firecrackers, light sparklers, and spin steel wool (they tie steel wool to a string, set it on fire, and then spin it….totally dangerous, but incredibly beautiful).

In addition, I’ve noticed that Hindus are similar to Jews in that food is a major part of any celebration and no one starves during the festivities. During Diwali it is traditional for families to gather together and share sweets and snacks…..and they share with their non-Hindu friends. One of my absolute favorite parts of any Hindu celebration is parasad. The best way to describe it is dough consistency cake batter with nuts and fruit mixed in. I’ve made it once and it may be the most labor intensive and unhealthy dessert ever invented, but man is it delicious! There are also all kinds of other delicious sweet and fried snacks served……and consumed…..by me. Mmmmmm Delicious!

Like Phagwah the Hindu festival celebrated in the spring with colorful powder, glitter, and water, Diwali is a festival that represents the triumph of good over evil. From a spiritual point of view Diwali represents “the awareness of the inner light”. In Hindu philosophy there is the belief that there is something beyond the physical body and mind that is pure and infiniteknown as the Atman. Diwali is the celebration of this awareness that there is something deeper to us and within us, that we all have this inner light and strength that we use to overcome darkness in our lives (obstacles and ignorance). The idea is that with the understanding of Atman comes compassion, love, and awareness, and that then brings Ananda (joy and peace).

So regardless of how hard this year has been I hope that tomorrow you let your light shine! I know I will!

LOVE to you all and Happy Diwali!

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