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Light up your life!
Posted: 11/16/2012 | Inspirational Comments
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It’s the time for Diwali (Deepawali), the festival of lights! The most important Hindu holiday in India, the whole country comes together for the five-day celebration, regardless of class or economic status. Candles, lanterns, strings of light and fireworks illuminate homes, communities and the countryside. Families and friends gather to share great food and celebrate. It’s a time to let go of the past, and begin fresh, a time to focus on our inner light and banish our spiritual darkness. While most of us can’t fly to India to participate in the festivities, we can take the beautiful message and incorporate it into our lives.

There are many different regions in India, and as many interpretations of this rich, colorful holiday. Not everyone celebrates in the same way or at the same time. Various mythologies and entities are honored and celebrated according to each regions’s predominant traditions, but each day of the celebration serves a basic purpose. Let’s look at these rituals and traditions, and see how we can honor the same principles at home.

Day 1: Dhanteras
On this day people clean their homes thoroughly and open their doors and windows to invite in Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and fulfilled wishes. Gifts are exchanged and prayers made for prosperity in the coming year. It’s also the day to vanquish laziness and negativity. Take time to clean a desktop, corner or room, creating space for new ideas and actions. Open doors and windows, however briefly and imagine you’re inviting in abundance, letting go of old thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve you.

Day 2: Narak Chaturdasi
Candles and lamps are placed everywhere in the home, from the rooftop to the bathroom. Flowers and mango leaves are placed on window sills. Beautiful designs are created by colored sand in courtyards and gateways, and sometimes painted on walls. Commonly people indulge in oil baths, symbolically cleansing themselves of impurities. It’s a day for rest and nurturing.

Take a long bath, a nap, or whatever feels soothing and restorative. Light candles and fragrant incense, and imagine your own inner light burning brightly and illuminating the unknown. Put flowers in your favorite vase, and pull out your crayons and paints. Create a picture to display while you honor this celebration.

Day 3: Laxmi Puja
This is the biggest day of celebration, where lights glow and fireworks light up the sky. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and fulfilled wishes, is honored by a “puja,” an act of reverence usually as prayer, song and ritual. Bali returns to earth, sweets are made and offered to Lord Vishnu, Lord of peace and truth. Gifts are exchanged, and donations made to the poor. It’s the day to remind yourself of your purpose and carry it with you through the year. Continue to light candles and create your own moment of reverence. Sing a song, dance or meditate. Surprise a loved one with a small gift, or contribute to a favorite charity. Remember your divine purpose, even if you’re not sure what that looks like.

Day 4: Padwa
This is a day where spouses honor their love and devotion, with wives putting the red tilak on the husband’s forehead, and the husband giving and expensive gift to the wife. It’s the day to honor your partner, whether in romance, parenting or business.

It’s also the first day of the financial new year, so old accounts are settled and new ones opened. As we open to abundance, we release our old resentments and jealousy from the past. It’s now time to honor the beauty and good in everyone.

Day 5: Balipratipada
On this day, Lord Yama visited his sister Yamuna. Brothers visit sisters, often traveling long distances for the chance to spend time together. Brothers bring with them sweets and gifts and promise to protect and care for their sisters. In return, sisters give their love and feed their brothers well.

If you have a brother or sister, give them a call or send them a card. Acknowledge the bond that only the two of you have, and open to healing anything between you that needs it. Even if you don’t have siblings, honor someone, if only in thought, that served that roll for you. Take time to tap into your gratitude for all the beautiful, if imperfect, people in your life.

Diwali is influenced by many religious traditions and mythologies, but over time, it’s a holiday that brings all aspects of culture together. It’s a time to focus on our common humanity, rather than our differences. It’s a time to focus on abundance, letting go of the past and allowing the wonderful new opportunities to come. It’s the perfect time to cleanse, nurture, release, open and light up our lives!

Happy Diwali!

Please share how you might do some of this. Your contribution helps us all.


(photo by: 123newyear)

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