Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Diwali

Diwali is the celebration of enlightenment. This year, Diwali fulfilled one of my dream. I always fantasized about wearing traditional India dress - dhoti kurta in office. But you are not allowed wearing such dress in office - damn office protocol. On Diwali, our admin department was kind enough to let us wear ethnic wear. I took the opportunity and wear dhoti kurta.

Diwali is a five day celebration. The first day is called dhanteras. Traditionally, utensils are purchased on this day. Second day is chotti Diwali also called Naraka Chaturdashi. This is said to be the Diwali of shopkeepers. People buy sweets, crackers etc, on this day. The third day -Diwali is the main festival. People wear new clothes and distribute sweets. People worship the goddess of wealth - Laxmi along with Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva. The next day is Govardhan Puja. The go-dhan i.e. cattle especially cow is worshiped this day. The last day is Bhaiduj, the day to express love between brothers a sisters.

Every corner of the city is lighted with candles and diyas. Now-a-days people use electric lights. The city seems like beautiful heaven. People burn crackers and fire works.

But I have some concerns. First, why we celebrate Diwali. Common belief is that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya on this day after killing Ravana, the king of Lanka. Then why don't we worship Lord Rama? Some people believe this day as the beginning of Hindu financial year. So we worship goddess Laxmi. That's OK. Then why do we waste money in crackers?

We do worse to our environment on this auspicious day. Crackers cause lots of air pollution and noise pollution (report). People suffering with heart disease are prone to attack because of the loud and sudden noise of crackers. The amount of poisonous gases such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide in the air increases beyond limits on Diwali. Even you are not able to breath smoothly.

In India, we have less electricity than we need. And we waste thousands of megawatts of electricity on a single day. Does this do any good to us or our country? As a responsible citizen, we must think about these problems.

The true celebration of Diwali, however, means something else. Diwali comes after a chain of festivals. First comes navratras. This is a nine day festival where people keep fasts and pray different goddesses. People prey shakti (The Power) which governs the world. The aim of navratras is to purify our behavior. It is the process of aatm-shuddhi i.e. purification of one's thoughts. After navratra, comes Dussehra. This is celebrated as the victory of good over the evil. This means that by dushhera, we have cleared and purified our thoughts. A pure heart is subject to enlightenment. So now we are on the path of enlightenment. Then came Diwali - the festival of enlightenment. By now, our thoughts are purest and our heart is full of enlightenment.

So Diwali is about the lightning of our inner self and not about wasting electricity and polluting air. I hope, next time before purchasing crackers, we will think about it.

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