Diwali — the Delightful Indian Festival
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 24 Oct 2022
24 Oct 2022 – One of the principal Hindu festivals, Diwali, is celebrated today. In fact not only Hindus celebrate it with fervour and gaiety, but people from other religions also join the celebrations with joy sharing the spiritual and religious festivities.
Indians are found all over the world especially in England, Australia, USA and Canada etc. Recently a news came that New York City has declared a holiday for Diwali that falls in 2022 on a Monday, the 24 October. This will make the weekend a three day bonanza for everyone irrespective of whether people are Hindus or belong to other faiths.
Many people may wonder why is Diwali so popular — what makes it such a spiritual and joyful festival? In fact it is intimately related to Lord Ram — one of the important Gods of Hindus.
Lord Ram is the son of King Dashrath of Ayodhya. The king had three wives —Kaushalya, Kekai and Sumitra. Ram the eldest prince is the son of Kaushalya, Kekai is the mother of Bharat and Soumitra is the mother of two princes —Lakshman and Shatrughan.
As was customary, Prince Ram would become the next king after Dashrath passes away. This possibility was disliked by Kekai who wanted her son Bharat to become the next sovereign. With some conspiracy, she managed to send Ram on a 14 year exile so that her son Bharat would be in the line of becoming the next king.
Lord Ram was accompanied by his wife Sita and his foster brother Lakshman also joined Ram. Bharat felt ashamed by his mother’s action and decided to place Ram’s Kharan (sandals) to symbolically depict that Ram was the ruler even though he was forced to go on exile.
With such a scenario, the story of Ram becomes complicated when his wife Sita is kidnapped by the demon king Ravan. The story now changes to the activities of Ram and his monkey friend Hanuman to find where Sita is located and how to retrieve her from Ravan’s custody. A big bird named Jatayu in the story gives the direction in which Sita has been abducted by Ravan and his henchmen. Ravan is depicted as a scholar in the story but despite this, Sita has been abducted.
After several efforts Ram and Hanuman are able to find Sita located safely in a garden.
After all the turmoil, Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman return to Ayodhya to a gorgeous welcome by the citizens who celebrate their return by lighting innumerable number of earthen lamps locally called Diyas.
The festival Diwali is celebrated even today by these earthen Diyas both in homes as well as important public buildings, parks and bridges.
Let me end by wishing everyone a Happy Diwali.
Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. email@example.com
Tags: Diwali, Hinduism, India
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 24 Oct 2022.
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