Fes­ti­val of lights: Re­mark­able facts I didn't know ear­lier

The Northlines - - FRONT PAGE - RATTAN Singh Gill

The rit­u­als and mul­ti­ple ver­sions of Hindu fes­ti­vals have of­ten been the tar­get of ridicule for such mo­ti­vated his­to­ri­ans, athe­ists and of course, other re­li­gion­ists. But those pre­cisely are the sus­tain­ing forces of Hin­duism and have acted as solid de­fences against other faiths and fake ide­olo­gies. Hindu rit­u­als are rooted in re­al­ity and sci­ence though some of them may be im­prac­ti­ca­ble in the cur­rent mi­lieu or might have un­der­gone ero­sion over time ow­ing to lack of proper un­der­stand­ing or per­se­ver­ance. The his­tory and festivities as­so­ci­ated with us are many but one need not deem them con­tra­dic­tory or mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive. De­pend­ing on the re­gion, lo­cal leg­end and even cal­en­dars mean dif­fer­ent things to the re­spec­tive peo­ples of In­dia. But, all ver­sions are his­tor­i­cal truths. Also the mes­sage and meth­ods are com­mon. Many deem it as the day on which Rama and Sita re­turned to Ay­o­d­hya af­ter ex­ile. On that dark

Amaavasya night, peo­ple of that holy town lighted oil lamps for the guid­ance of the divine cou­ple, a tra­di­tion fol­lowed till to­day. A Yuga later, it was the turn of Lord Kr­ishna to make an aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion when he de­stroyed the dreaded de­mon-king Naraka­sura and freed princesses and peo­ple alike from his evil clutches. In south, it sig­ni­fies the day on which King Ma­ha­bali rises with the light of knowl­edge to terra firma from the nether world to where he had been pushed by Va­mana's leg­endary 'third step'.

In most parts of north­ern and western In­dia, the reign­ing de­ity of De­wali is God­dess Lak­shmi, the be­stower of wealth, though these days, she also brings the In­come Tax sleuths in tow! In Orissa and Ben­gal, Kali rules the day. While in the north, De­wali is a five-day fes­ti­val, in much of South In­dia, it is the amavaasya day that is cel­e­brated. De­wali is the clos­ing of a fi­nan­cial year and the be­gin­ning of a new one for many north In­dian com­mu­ni­ties. For the

Jains it is the day on which their pa­tron-saint Lord Ma­haveera at­tained Mok­sha.

It is sig­nif­i­cant for the Sikhs too for it was on this day that the foun­da­tion was laid for their most revered shrine, the Golden Tem­ple at Am­rit­sar. As­so­ci­at­ing Mus­lims, Guru Ar­jan Dev Ji re­quested a Mus­lim seer Mia Mir of Lahore to lay its foun­da­tion stone. It was also the day, a few cen­turies later when their revered sixth Guru was re­leased along­with other 52 Hindu kings from the prison where he was wrong­fully con­fined by Moghuls em­peror Je­hangir for re­fus­ing to con­vert.

Mus­lims, though do not cel­e­brate Di­wali as re­li­gious fes­ti­val, they do ob­serve and share it as cul­tural fes­ti­val with their Hindu friends and neigh­bours and their chil­dren do show hap­pi­ness and en­thu­si­asm on Di­wali with Hin­dus friends. Mus­lims in In­dia and else­where can also ex­pe­ri­ence per­sonal growth dur­ing Di­wali by re­flect­ing on its spir­i­tual sig­nif­i­cance.

In Is­lamic phi­los­o­phy, 'An-nur' mean­ing 'The Light' is the cen­tral sym­bol of Di­wali; and Mus­lims can there­fore open new channels of in­ter­faith un­der­stand­ing see­ing the im­por­tance of light within Is­lam.

Sim­i­lar en­thu­si­asm is be­ing ob­served among chil­dren and youth from Chris­tian com­mu­nity in Schools, Col­leges, Hos­tels and neigh­bour­hood in many parts of In­dia. You can have your own rea­son to re­joice. Burst­ing of crack­ers, shar­ing sweets and fes­toon­ing homes gives us more joy. No of­fense if you guys cel­e­brate Di­wali as it is one of the hap­pi­est event in In­dia be­yond re­li­gion. Peo­ple fol­low­ing the bud­dhist re­li­gion from across the world ce le bra te­diw alias an aus­pi­cious day. That' s be­cause, this is the day when em­peror Ashoka gave up ev­ery­thing and adopted the path of peace af­ter go­ing through a lot of blood shed and death. he de­cided to con­vert to bud­dhism. new ar Bud­dhists in Nepal even cel­e­brate­di­wali with the wor­ship of God­dess Lak­shmi.

In­ci­den­tally, De­wali is also con­sid­ered as a good day for gam­bling, of all things, for this was the day on which Par­vati played dice with Siva. That is prob­a­bly why we have the Muhur­rat trad­ing on the stock ex­change, the most of­fi­cial gam­bling den of present day!

In­deed, if tra­di­tions and their logic are not trans­mit­ted to the younger gen­er­a­tions we may re­main ig­no­rant about mean many more things about this In­dian Fes­ti­val. Al­ready brisk shop­ping both on­line and off­line, free-sail­ing over so­cial me­dia, satel­lite big TVS and more ad­vanced fea­tured Mo­bile phones and gad­gets come to dom­i­nate the fes­ti­val over re­li­gious rit­u­als.

Last but not the least a pre­dom­i­nate cau­tion to cel­e­brate this great fes­ti­val burst­ing min­i­mum crack­ers in the in­ter­est of our al­ready frag­ile en­vi­ron­ment, less ir­ri­ta­tion to old and ail­ing; and of course to An­i­mals nearby and for many good things. To­day's De­walis are 'brought to you', in part or full, by com­mer­cial spon­sors who have re­placed the orig­i­nal har­bin­gers, namely Rama, Kr­ishna, Lak­shmi etc. So in that same vein, should I sign off by say­ing that De­wali is the 'Su­per Star or a block-buster' of all fes­ti­vals? What­ever the rea­son, it's fine so long as the re­sult is hope, joy and pros­per­ity!

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