Diwali – A Truly Unifying Festival Across Religions

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India is the country known for its unity in diversity and If there is Indian festival, which could truly unify various religions of the country, it is none other than “The Diwali” the festival of light. The Diwali is fun-filled joyous festival celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. Though the Diwali is celebrated for various different reasons, it has evolved itself into a multicultural worldwide festival from being a pan Indian festival a certain decades ago.The Diwali festival reflects the on human bonding and helps in sustaining the underlying pluralistic values for diverse people from various culture and religions to co-exist harmoniously.

Universally, Diwali is celebrated as the festival to honor of victory of good over the evil. The Hindus in the northern India celebrates the Diwali as the homecoming of the King Rama after the 14 years of exile in the forest with his wife Sita and  his brother Laxman. It is believed that the Ayodhyian people welcomed Lord Rama by Light up the rows of light to thank him for getting rid of the demon king Ravanan. There is another legend in north, that the Diwali was the day on which the Lord Krishna saved the people of Gokula village by lifting up the Govardhan Mountain and provided shelter for the people from torrential rain created by the angry  demigod Indhra. In south, the Hindus celebrate the Diwali to honor lord Krishna and his wife Sathayabhama for defeating the evil demon Narakasura and freeing the people from his tyranny. According to the epic Mahabharatha, the peoples celebrated the “Kartik Amavashya” by lighting up the earthen lamps to welcome the pandavas who returned after 12 year banishment, owing to their defeat in the game of dice by the Kauravas.  The Diwali is also connected to the  goddess Lakshmi for two reasons, one is that is was on the Diwali day that goddess Lakhsmi was born from the churning of ocean by the Devas and Asuras. And the other reason is that the Diwali was the day on which goddess Lakshmi was rescued from the prison of the King bali, by the Vamana Avatar, The fifth incarnation of the Lord Vishnu.  Similar to Hindus, the Sikhs also have various reason to celebrate Diwali. The third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a “ Red Letter day”, the day on which all the Sikhs would gather and receive the blessings of the Guru. The Sixth Guru Har Gobind, held captive by the Mughal emperor Jahengir, set himself free along with other 52 kings from the Gwalior fort. The Guru’s return to Amritsar is celebrated by the Sikh people on the Diwali day in a grand manner in the name of “Bandi Chor Dhiwas”. Furthermore, The foundation stone for the Golden Temple was laid on Diwali day.  The Diwali is a special day for Jain community because the founder of modern Jainism Mahavir Tirthankar attained his nirvana on this day 2500 years ago (527 BC). The pope John Paul II conducted a special Eucharist in an Indian church in the year 1999. The Buddhist celebrate Diwali as “Ashoka Vijayadhasmi”, The day on which the Emperor Ashoka got converted himself to Buddhism. It was noted that the altar was decorated with Diwali diyas, the pope’s forehead had a visible “Tilak” and his speech was filled with lots of reference to the festival of light. Deepavali, besides being celebrated in India, it is also celebrated in many countries such as Africa, Australia, Japan, Fiji, Sri lanka, Trinidad & Tabago, Guyana, Indonesia, Britain, Myanmar, Mauritius, Thailand, US, Malaysia, Singapore.

Diwali is a unifying force, which would always seek the greater unity and encourage amity and understanding between the peoples irrespective of their ethnic, religious and class distinctions. On the noble day of Diwali, we should commit ourselves to unite the human hearts, so that everybody could live in peace, harmony, freedom and serve each other with love and dignity.

dinesh@iibsgroup.co'

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