Happy Diwali

Tonight,  it’s time to clean up the house and light a candle to welcome Diwali, the festival of lights.  It helps to have colorful candy and to call your brother, too, as Diwali is a way to welcome luck and prosperity into your home, and also to bring harmony into your household.

Traditionally, Diwali is a Hindu festival that marks the end of the harvest season.  In India, the celebration is a way of giving thanks for the abundance of the current harvest and for welcoming a prosperous harvest in the next year.  In modern times, it corresponds with the close of the fiscal year in India.

ImageTraditionally, Diwali is associated with goddess Lakshmi, the first of the gods to emerge from the “churning milk” of the cosmic ocean.  She is also the goddess who triumphed in battle over the demons of darkness.  So, women, this is a good night to meditate on the aspect of the feminine that is represented in Lakshmi, a major ass-kicking goddess who is said to be the power of material creation, the shakti that corresponds to Vishnu/creation.

Lakshmi is associated with abundance, inner wisdom, wealth, prosperity, fertility, luck, beauty and love.  She is the feminine counterpart of the lord of creation, and it is said that in every incarnation of Vishnu (as in Krishna and Rama, etc.) so does Lakshmi, his consort also incarnate (as Rada, Sita, etc.) because the two cannot be apart.

More importantly, the festival celebrates the triumph of light over darkness.  So as to be sure that I am not making any faux pas, I am quoting here straight from Wikipedia:

While Diwali is popularly known as the “festival of lights”, the most significant spiritual meaning behind it is “the awareness of the inner light”. Central to Hindu philosophy (primarily the YogaVedanta, and Samkhya schools of Hindu philosophy) is the belief that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman

The celebration of Diwali as the “victory of good over evil”, refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings ananda (joy or peace). Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this Inner Light.

While the story behind Diwali and the manner of celebration varies from region to region (festive fireworks, worship, lights, sharing of sweets), the essence is the same – to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying Reality of all things (Brahman).

Although I am not Hindu in either religion or race, I am nonetheless fascinated by Lakshmi and Diwali, and every year, if I remember, I light candles and clean my house, for it is said that Lakshmi never enters a house that’s dirty.
By this small and simple ritual I welcome the light of reason and the light of peace into my home and heart, that I may wake from ignorance and be embraced with the abundance of wisdom and of inner peace with is the birthright of every human being.
And if you want to make an extra umph on Lakshmi, her mantra is Om Sri Maha Lakshmiyai Namah.
Happy Diwali.

Published by laura

I'm the author of two short story collections, a story cycle, and a collection of short memoirs. I am an educator, literary translator, journal editor, and writing coach.

2 thoughts on “Happy Diwali

  1. Laura,
    Is there a link between Lakshmi and the Greek concept of Sophia? I would think so. I see that, like Sophia, Lakshmi assisted in the creator God’s act of creation. I think that she, like Sophia-Spirit, Aphrodite and Athena, and Calypso are all amazing forces of the Feminine that MUST be recognized in both world religions and mythology. You know I stress this in my dissertation research, but I also believe it to be the truth in how we look at religion. I appreciated this read. I had heard of Lakshmi, but mainly in her links to Aphrodite (ehh…) — I sense she is MUCH more dynamic, again like Sophia, or Athena (my favorite!), who is both FORCE and WISDOM… salvation in balance. Oh well, light some candles for us… we are certainly looking forward to the new year!
    Best, Zach

    1. Hi Zach, as I have been studying Sumerian mythology for many years, I am persuaded that Sumerian culture was derived from Hindu culture, or at least that the two had huge influence on one another. I am also persuaded that Ancient Greek culture was the surviver of the Sumerian culture. I can trace almost any of the Sumerian gods into either a HIndu or a Greek counterpart. Lakshmi is most definitely Sophia. I thought of this as I was reading your post on wisdom in your blog. But I was sure that Sophia is not Greek but Hermetic, that is, Egyptian, and also, Hebrew. She appears in the old scriptures of the Hebrew before the decision to excise completely the feminine from the Bible. But I cannot be sure.

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