Why Diwali is Celebrated: the Mysterious History of the Holiday

Diwali is around the corner and for many Hindus, the biggest celebration of the year is coming. In this Diwali essay information is presented in English. Here we look at why so many celebratethe festival of lights. First of all let me start with the mention that I want to focus on the meaning behind Diwali and why this celebration is so important for so many people around the world. Not only is Diwali a joyous occasion where people will greet friends and family, presents are exchanged and lots of incredible foodis eaten, but rather the celebration itself is deeply rooted with an important meaning. 

Notably being called the festival of lights and encourages to people to vanquish the darknessin the soul to allow the light to shine through, something we'll delve deeper into later inthe video. For those new to the celebrations, Diwalicomes from the root word Deepavali, which means a row of lights, symbolised most prominently by diwas that are lit in all Hindu homes to dispel the darkness with the light. However, to really understand Diwali, it's impossible to ignore the Ramayana. The Ramayana is one of the great epics in Indian history alongside the Mahabharata, and remains one of the most important texts in Hindu households, telling the story of Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu in Hinduism. Now, I can't really go in depth into the story of the Ramayana as the 24,000 verses of the text is simply too big and too deep to coverin the space of a few minutes. However, to try and give a quick summary, the story is of Lord Rama who is the rightful heir to be the next king of Ayodhya, but is forced into exile to a forest with his wife, Sita, and brother Lakshman, due to politicalissues. During their time there Sita garners the attention of Ravana, the King of Lanka, who kidnaps her while Rama is out trying to capture adeer for her. On finding out about Sita's capture, Ramaalong with Lakshman pursues Ravana to save her, meeting various individuals and groups to help them along the way, not least the monkey God, Hanuman, who becomes the most devout follower of Rama. As a great battle ensues, Rama finally defeats Ravana and saves Sita, after which they return to Ayodhya where in the darkness of the nightrows of diwas, small lanterns, light the path to their rightful place in the Kingdom. Now, obviously this is an extremely short summary of a story that has such depth that people have been trying to analyse it formillenia and for many, is considered a part of real history. But, the key points I want to give here is that when it comes to the Ramayana, Rama's act of patience and virtue lead him from aplace of extreme misery and darkness, much of it forced upon him, to ultimately letting the light of his actions see him return to his rightful place. And before we move on, let's not ignore othersin the story, including Sita's purity and strength throughout her ordeal, the strengthand unquestionable support of Lakshman and the devotion and faith of Hanuman, arguably the one with the greatest show of strength in the whole epic. Each character in the Ramayana is layered, deep and a complex and fully realised individual from which we can learn invaluable lessons on life. However, the key lesson here that I want toreally share with you is that from Darkness Comes Light. 

In both Eastern and Western philosophy and culture, the concept of dispelling darknesswith light is common practice when talking about the depths of overcoming our challenges in life. The Ramayana tells of this in a way which can be easily understood, as through patience, perserverence and acting virtuously, Ramacame across all he needed to help him fulfil his duty to overcome Ravana and save Sita. However, equally prevelant in Diwali celebrations is the thematic nature of light in the midst of darkness. In the story of the Ramayana, when Rama, Sitaand Lakshman retured to Ayodhya, they were met with rows of lanterns to light their path following their ordeal. During the Diwali festivities, Hindus willlight diwas in their homes and set off fireworks into the darkness of the night sky, bringing a resplendent and joyful night in amidst the darkness. You see, in life we're all faced with moments or periods of darkness and suffering, but the key here is that we can dispel that darkness with the light of wisdom, to overcome ignoranace with knowledge, and to truly appreciate the light, you must first encounter the darkness. This idea and concept of knowledge is something I can be delving deeper, but here, I'd like to focus on the key lessons of Diwali. 

The importance of Diwali is that it's a reminder that regardless of all that we've faced in the past year, it's critical to move forward in life with confidence and optimism. For many Hindus, it's a time where they'll purchase new clothes, which has the metaphorical meaning of starting a new with renewed drive and purpose. This fresh start prepares them for the year ahead, ready for what battles may come and with the knowledge that ultimately, their actions will see them dispel their suffering through perseverance. So the first lesson is never lose sight of the meaning of life, let Diwali be a reminder of what you work towards and start a freshin your pursuit towards your goals. This leads us to the next lesson, that optimism and positivity need to triumph over our perceived negativity in life. This is quite a simple concept really, if you wallow in the depths of negativity then you'll naturally bring misery into your life, perhaps allowing a nihilistic outlook dictate your actions which leads to destructive behaviour rather than something productive and progressive. So the next lesson to take away is that regardless of what happens, don't lose sight of what can be. After all, the greatest creator in your life is you. And look, that which is meaningful and of great importance won't come easily, so you need to have great patience in what you pursue ,as some things take a great deal of time, perhaps a lifetime, to achieve. For many Hindus, the ultimate goal is Moksha,t he liberation from all material desires, which can take multiple lifetimes to achieve. So, work as though your actions today cannot be delayed even by a second, but have the patience to pursue a goal that may not bearfruit for generations. After all, these are often the most meaningful goals in life. And the way you live shouldn't be for theself, because we can't fulfil our purpose alone. Rama didn't save Sita alone, he needed the support of Lakshman, Hanuman and so many others. In business, success cannot be achieved if you're not offering value to others, most notably your consumers. So, learn to live in a way where you bring joy to others with no expectation and you will naturally find that people will support you in your pursuits. Finally, it's important to dispel the darkness within you to bring light to your life. We all suffer, we all struggle and we allhave to deal with hardships. However, by learning to bear the burden and have the ability to move forward regardless with optimism and hope is to accept the fruits that life has to offer, as without darkness, we cannot truly appreciate light. 

So, if you take nothing else away from this essay at least take this: don't let the darkness consume you, instead always remember that the light will shine brightest in that darkness

23 March 2023
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