THERE'S nothing unusual at all with lighting a candle during All Souls’ Day. But this year, an experience of lighting one has become rather festive, more of a celebration of the joy of life than the accustomed commemoration of the departed.
Thanks to India’s biggest feast—the Diwali Festival.
Last Oct. 30, people celebrated Diwali Festival (Festival of Lights) at the Ananda Marga Yoga Center. Yoga mats were laid flat not only for the meditative practitioners but for everyone who came to celebrate the rest of the evening. Clad in a string of lights and a drapery of scarves, the room illuminates in vibrant bursts of colors—a humble counterpart of the grand pyro displays back in the cities of India. Nevertheless, all varieties of the Diwali Festival boil down to its very essence—to rejoice the triumph of good over evil.
The festival is observed by Indians and the rest of the world every October or November to symbolize the light that protects the soul from darkness in all forms. Every autumn in India, people embellish their homes with colorful lights and hold a series of loud firecracker shows that brighten up the neighborhood skies. Families gather together and spend the night exchanging gifts and bringing stories over a feast of mouth-watering dishes. The celebration in Ananda Marga has its own authentic share of Indian cuisine—tomato relish, iced tamarind tea, and other savory items.
For moments when people couldn’t express in words and in imagery, music was there to fill up the void and served best company. Those present sang to a couple of Prabhata Samgiita music that is said to inspire both singers and listeners to shake off the negative energies of melancholy and despair and ultimately generate vitality in life. The Sanskrit words may be foreign to the local tongue, but there seems to be a course of sensibility evoking from each belted note. It must have been the spirit of Diwali demonstrating the universal language of human connection.
“Now is the darkest time of the world. This is why we celebrate Diwali to light up our lives,” Festival organizer Japamala Arnaldo’s words ring true, somehow connoting not just the meaning of Diwali, but its significance that transcends different cultures and peoples.
Regardless of whether one is Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain, the festival serves as a reminder of the very human necessity of knowing and seeking the good and the right path. Now who doesn’t want a Diwali experience in life? (Contributed by Denzel Yorong)