Light of wisdom over darkness of ignorance - Deepavali falls tomorrow

By E. Sivayoganathan

Deepavali, a festival celebrated by Hindus during the period October-November, signifies the emergence of the soul from darkness, 'Avidya', to light, 'Vidya' or awakening. Deepavali, literally means rows of light, in Sanskrit. The festival is celebrated by displaying rows of light at the entrance of homes, places of worship etc.

In many Tamil-speaking regions of the world, taking oil baths, worshipping goddess Laxmi and fireworks displays also take prominent place. One of the legends associated with Deepavali is that it is a celebration of the victory of Lord Krishna over demon Narahasuran . On this day people clean and decorate their homes, for it is believed that unclean homes drive away good fortune. Many home courtyards have colourful kolams (designs) that are created using rice and turmeric flour.

On the day of the festival people take a bath in the early morning, attire themselves in new clothes and then engage in religious activities. Sweetmeats and other foods are shared among relatives, friends and neighbours.

This festival of lights is also seen as the true awakening of wisdom in mankind. Ignorance is believed to be the root of all suffering and misery. Rows of illumination and lamps that brighten Hindu homes on this day are believed to drive away ignorance and sorrow.

Deepavali is also considered a merit celebration blessed with peace, love and devotion. If one tries to trace the origin of Deepavali one will get lost in Hindu mythology because there are so many legends associated with it. But in a broad sense Deepavali marks the defeat of darkness of ignorance by the bright light of knowledge and wisdom.

Swami Sivananda declares that, "all the lights of the world cannot be compared even to a ray of inner light of the self. Merge yourself in this light of lights and enjoy the bliss of the brightest of lights. God".
The world today is not only ridden by poverty, social disabilities but also selfishness and self centred thoughts of man. This festival reminds us that where there is dharma – and righteousness there will be victory.

The clean beauty of purified wisdom which we carry in our hearts will undoubtedly strengthen us for sacrifice, service and greatness and dispel the superstitious darkness of ignorance and egoistic arrogance.

Deepavali is a festival of freedom, peace, unity and compassion. Let us pray for knowledge, peace, happiness and to free ourselves from ignorance, envy, misery and hatred. Let the Deepavali festival bring happiness and prosperity to all.

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