Diwali (or Divali), comes from the Sanskrit word “Divali”. DeepavaliIt literally means “a row full of lights”. This auspicious holiday, also known in English as “festival of light”, is celebrated by Hindus across the globe and marks the beginning of the new year. It is a celebration of light and happiness on both personal and community levels. On the other hand, it’s a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate. Bright earthen lamps decorate every corner of homes, and delicious meals are prepared for all. Old accounts are closed and disputes are settled.
Personally, Diwali allows us to reflect on our inner world and light the lamps that represent truth and knowledge. We can then dispel the darkness and ignorance and let our natural brilliance and goodness shine through. The festival’s principal deity is Goddess Lakshmi who is the goddess of wealth. We ask for her help in cultivating and accumulating spiritual riches, such as compassion and forgiveness, loving-kindness, and forgiveness.
Diwali is a time for reflection and evaluation of our thoughts, words and actions during the past year. It is a time for us to recognize and understand our negative and prejudiced behaviors and bad habits, so that we can begin the journey of transformation. It is a time when we can learn to be more loving and kind towards ourselves and others. Diwali, which is a celebration of wealth, spiritual and material, is a time for reflection on how we can help others and shine our lights into the world.
Diwali, like a lamp’s flame always points upwards, is a time for celebration and appreciation of life. It also gives us the opportunity to look forward to the new year with renewed passion and purpose. Mahatma Gandhi said that Diwali is a time to remember and to be the change you want in the world.
To Name This Day
Light one candle, and take a few minutes to look at the flame. Deepen your breathing. Close your eyes and visualize the flame in your heart. Continue to deepen your breath. Focus on your inner brilliance, goodness, or wholeness. Allow your heart to open wide and embrace your inner light.
Prayers & Mantras
Recite the following Vedic prayer/chant in Sanskrit, and/or English
Om Asato Ma Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
Let us move from untruthfulness to truth
From darkness to light
From death to immortality
Om Peace Peace Peace
Take the time to journal.
1. Make a list of personal qualities that can dull your inner light, such as greed, anger and laziness. Start today by committing to getting rid of any of these qualities.
2. List the qualities that nurture your inner light, such as kindness, compassion, and generosity. Start cultivating one of these qualities right now.
3. Find simple, yet transformative ways to share your inner light/spiritual riches with others. For example, saying “Hello. How are you?” to all those you encounter and really listen to their answer, smiling at people you encounter while sitting on the train or standing in line at the post office or grocery store, and quietly blessing others as they pass by you on the street. Start by making one of these gestures right now.
Ami Bhalodkar, an interfaith minister, is Ami Bhalodkar. She is a member the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary faculty in New York City. She also lectures on Hinduism. Rev. Rev. Bhalodkar also offers spiritual counselling and customized wedding ceremonies. Her website is www.divinenectar.org.