From Darkness to Light
On a dark, gloomy and moonless night, Lord Rama, the exiled king of Ayodhya returned home after 14 years, having vanquished the evil of Ravana. To honor their king and celebrate his victory, the people of Ayodhya lit his path with oil lamps. This began the tradition of Diwali or Deepavali which translates to a ‘row of lights’. India’s most widely celebrated festival, Diwali is symbolic of the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness.
Reminiscing one’s childhood, Diwali is a sure favourite, a month-long celebration leading up to Christmas and New Years. A time of inclusion, tolerance, and respect, a time to revel in the company of loved ones, dress up in glittery finery and gorge on delicious dishes. A kaleidoscope of colors and religious hues, Diwali was an occasion to behold for a childlike wonderment.
However, as things currently stand, these merriments and joyous embodiment of different kinds of people coming together seem to be eclipsed by a gloomy cloud of communal fear, spawning violence and intolerance, which runs rampant in present-day India. Diwali is a time to reflect on one’s deeds, to revisit impartiality, to rid oneself of dark and negative thoughts and practice the teachings of Rama; Truth, righteousness, harmony, inclusion, tolerance, and respect.
To see pluralism and diversity as a threat to unity is sure to lead to tragedy and violence. While the current paranoia is difficult to absorb, perhaps inspiration could be drawn from Maa Durga and Lord Rama to liberate ourselves and fight the cow vigilantes, the communal mindsets, and the intolerant alike, thereby fostering a healthier environment for inclusive growth, clemency, and progression.
‘Respect’ to each other, barring caste, creed or religion is the most important antidote to the current melancholy in India. We must on this auspicious occasion encourage mutual esteem for all kinds of social, cultural and religious practices, and at the same time recognize and respect the inalienable ‘Right to Life’ that we all possess. We must go beyond just tolerance, we must kindle respect, as respect goes one step further to promote harmonious coexistence and provides space for all. Thus creating a culture that is capable of promoting conflict resolution, peace-making, and harmonious living, especially in a country like India.
As Diyas and lamps illuminate every corner of the globe tonight, we pray that the light of this Diwali brightens up not only our hearts but also our nation. Regardless of how difficult recent times have been, the Congress Party wishes that the jubilant sights and jolly cheers of Diwali, the love and, the religious camaraderie will overwhelm the current atmosphere. Thereby diminish the sorrows, nurture mutual respect, internally cleanse the sinister and ultimately rekindle the hope of a better India, in the hearts of even the most seasoned cynics.