Reflections on Festival of Light
By Satya Narayan Sahu | PUBLISHED: 30, Oct 2016, 16:54 pm IST | UPDATED: 03, Nov 2016, 19:31 pm IST
Light is central to spirituality, philosophy, and several religions as also to science and other disciplines Ancient wisdom enshrined in several Sanskrit Shlokas celebrate light and invoke it to dispel darkness and usher in awakening, wisdom and enlightenment.
"Tamoshoma Jyotirgamaya" captures the essence of our spiritual tradition in removing darkness which is nothing but absence of light. In Christianity the genesis is traced to the sacred words of the Lord "Let there be light and there was light".
In almost all faith traditions there has always been salutations made to light. Light of the Sun has always been a reference point for origin and sustenance of all life forms as also all forms of energy which are convertible and cannot be created.
The real and practical life that we lead now is i uhnconceivable without light that we get from a variety of sources which flow from the Sun, the centre of our solar system.
The distance of interplanetary celestial bodies are measured in terms of speed of light and the unit of light year is used both literally and figuratively to explain many profound and common place aspects of life and philosophy which are at the root of our evolving consciousness.
When matter travels at the speed of light enormous energy is obtained and Einstein's formulation in this regard brought out paradigm shift in the understanding of physics and many other dimensions of the whole universe. We are justly proud of such glorious traditions of understanding, discovery, exploration and application of light and knowledge associated with it to the realms of philosophy, spirituality, religion and science. We need to be alive to these lofty values.
The fact that India has a wonderful tradition, dating back to pre-recorded history, of celebrating Festival of Lights should empower us to uphold its purity and originality. While taking pride that India is the only country in the world where there is a lofty tradition of dedicating a festival to celebrate light, we are painfully aware that festival of light has been reduced to a festival which generates so much pollution.
It has also been reduced to a culture where in the name of Diwali Gift bribery is promoted and consumerism is sustained. All such unhealthy and contaminating aspects of the Festival of Lights needs to be kept in mind. There is now a campaign and consciousness not to burst crackers and only light Diyas.
The economics of the Festival of Lights constitute a major factor in making it a big issue beyond the domain of spirituality and religion.
The global recognition of the Diwali and its celebrations in White House of the USA and many other prominent countries of the world has invested it with planetary importance.
The celebrations of the Festival of Lights link it with the whole humanity. It gladdens one's heart as an Indian that one of our own festivals has united together the world and, thereby, signifying the integrating force of Indian culture in a world where there are strident and disturbing voices and forces determined to cause clash of cultures. We need to purge the Festival of Lights the taints such as pollution and corruption in the form of Diwali Gifts and consumerism and use it to promote love, understanding and reconciliation among peoples in the world who often confront fragmentation and division in our diverse global village.
Can it be done? I think it is doable. Happy Diwali.
# The author was OSD and Press Secretary to the late President of India Shri K.R. Narayanan and served as Director in the Prime Minister's Office. He is currently Joint Secretary in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat. The views expressed by the author are personal and not that of Rajya Sabha Secretariat.