Celebrating Diwali at WCH

October 24, 2022

By Harikrishnan Gopalakrishnan Nair

The word Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word Deepavali (Deep- light/ avali- rows) meaning rows of light.

Deepavali or Diwali is celebrated by lighting lamps in houses or places of worship, wearing new clothes, distributing sweets and savories, fireworks displays, and enjoying family get togethers.

Diwali is celebrated all over India and globally throughout the diaspora based on the lunar calendar, during the month of Kartik which usually falls on the new moon day between late October to mid-November.

Diwali or Deepavali is celebrated by Hindus in Southeast Asia as well as by religions of Jains, Sikhis and the Newar Buddhists in Nepal.

The festival is celebrated based on different folklores, traditions and for different lengths of time.

The Jain community celebrates Diwali as the day of spiritual enlightenment and liberation (moksha) of Lord Mahavir, the most recent Thirthankara, from the cycles of mortal life and Sikh community celebrates it as Bandi Chhor (‘Liberator Benign’) divas or day of liberation, to commemorate the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji’s release from Gwalior prison where he also facilitated the release of fifty-two other Hindu political prisoners. Though not a major festival for Buddhists, Newar Buddhist’s in Nepal commemorate Diwali as the day Emperor Ashoka’s converted to Buddhism in 3rd Century BCE.

The central message of light triumphing over darkness and activities of lighting lamps, exchanging gifts and fireworks displays, transcends borders.

Lightning the lamps or deyas is symbolic of lighting the inner spiritual lamp to recognize or be aware of the three eternal qualities or states of being of humans – ‘tamas’ (ignorance/ apathy/ destructive), ‘rajas’ (attachment/ action/ passion or desire that ties us to materialistic gains) and ‘satvik’ (virtuous/ enlightened/ disengaged / liberated).

The symbolism of light also reminds us to reflect on our true purpose in life; and Diwali advocates that this purpose is to ultimately reach a liberated or disengaged state of pure energy consciousness.

Diwali also denotes the cyclic nature of light over darkness, day over night, virtue over vice; with the full awareness that both are same sides of a coin, both are equal, nothing is ever truly binary, it is unity in diversity and the choice is ours to make which gets our focus at any given moment.

What are those essential values and how can everyone celebrate Diwali irrespective of who, what, how or where we are? By transcending boundaries and self-limiting beliefs through awareness of values and practice.

Hence Diwali, the Festival of Light, is truly a celebration of cross cultural, pan national and international siblinghood, love, compassion, selflessness, and the values that makes a being, human. A joyful, liberated one at that.

That is all it takes, to light that lamp of kindness and love, spread that message of joy, compassion and cheer, by showing – I care.

This is the message we would like to spread this Diwali, let’s celebrate our families, our friends, colleagues, teams, all those people in our lives, and most importantly the ones we often don’t have enough time for.  Let’s reach out and wish them a good morning or a good evening, and Shubh Diwali / Happy Diwali!

This Diwali let’s celebrate light as we transcend boundaries.

Read the Values and Practices that define Diwali here.

  1. https://canadadiwali.com/
  2. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/photos/diwali-celebrations-seen-as-a-bright-spot-in-canada-and-abroad-1.6238179
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmamuhurtha
  4. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Diwali-Hindu-festival
  5. https://www.parentcircle.com/diwali-the-time-for-new-beginnings-with-family/article
  6. https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/8231/aham-brahmasmi
  7. https://archive.org/details/TheEncyclopediaOfSikhism-VolumeIiE-l/page/233/mode/2up