Tamaso Maa Jyotirgamaya
The bright and beautiful festival of lights just concluded. In the pleasant chill of October, it gave many of us the warmth of togetherness. On the darkest night of the month of Kartik, it made the sky turn blindingly bright with light. In our hectic and hurried lifestyles, it gave us the gift of togetherness with our near and dear ones. Diwali also unveiled for us an opportunity to revisit our collective cultural heritage, which is a mix of mythological legends, religious beliefs and divine lessons unravelled on all of humanity. Besides observing rituals and sitting down in prayer, Diwali has a lot of teachings to give us. Did you take back some lessons for yourself from this celebration lost under the incessant din of firecrackers?
The festive air pervades the days falling before and after Diwali. Among many other legends, the strongest story which defines Diwali is the homecoming of Lord Rama after fourteen years spent in exile. However, the meaning of Diwali, or Deepavali, is larger than just the homecoming which caused the entire city of Ayodhya to erupt in joyous celebrations. On the darkest night, the Prince of Ayodhya returned to help secure for his praja, his subjects, a future full of prosperity. For fourteen years, a Kingdom had been deprived of the shade of a Guardian, a King, who is like a father looking after their welfare. Rama was the greatest scion of the Raghukula, a King who sacrificed his personal happiness so as not to incur the blemish of mistrust from his subjects. Does leave us with any message about our roles and responsibilities in the context of our society?
A Sense of Purpose and Responsibility is among the core values we uphold and try to inculcate in our students. Festivals with rich stories as their backdrop make for interesting instruction grounds to teach students the relevance being a purposeful and responsible person. The epic of Ramayana is replete with characters who epitomise a particular familial or social role – Ideal King, ideal husband, ideal wife, ideal brother, ideal follower, et al. An awareness of one’s duties is critical to enjoy the fruits of freedom. Responsible behaviour is a daily act. For the festival of Deepavali, we hope you all fulfilled your duty towards the environment, by not contributing to air and noise pollution. On the morning after Diwali, it is not pretty to see the streets littered with waste from the night before. If Shri Rama were to wake up to such an Ayodhya, he would not have been proud of his subjects.
The message of illumination is also inherent in the festival of Deepavali, which literally means ‘a row of light’. Light and dark are both metaphorical terms. The act of lighting a diya on a dark night is symbolically nudging people to allow their inner darkness to be eliminated under the glow of the earthen lamp. Our world is full of darker shades of existence – lack of amenities, loneliness, poverty, hunger, disease. Diwali is the time to shed some light of kindness on these problems that all of humanity is dealing with.
Light is also associated with wisdom. Along with Goddess Laxmi, it is Lord Ganesha whom we all offered prayers during Diwali pooja. It is important to reflect why. Lord Ganesha, besides being hailed as the ‘Remover of Obstacles’, is also the God associated with intellect and wisdom. Along with his two wives, Riddhi and Siddi, he embodies Enlightenment, which comes from inner exploration and knowledge. It is only when we open our minds and broaden our horizons, do we understand the value of harmonious living and don’t see people for their petty differences, but for the beautiful unity they constitute.
We are all put on this planet to fulfil our own unique purpose, to travel down our own distinct road. We hope Deepavali served its purpose in reminding you to constantly move away from darkness, towards light. Our Upanishads put this message succinctly – Tamaso Maa Jyotirgamaya.
Oct 24, 2014 by Shiv Nadar School Noida