Sunday, November 3, 2013

Happy Diwali

Tonight, my Mojito brothers and sisters, it's time to clean up the house and light a candle to welcome Diwali, the festival of lights.

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.

Traditionally, 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, Mojito sisters, 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.