It'll come as no surprise to you that after a month in India, I'm inspired. What can I say, the country aligns with my soul and enlivens me in a way Britain just can't.
As I was leaving on a warm November day I began to see the first Diwali preparations arise. I noticed extra care being taken in the temples, more people surrounding the front gates, boxes upon boxes of marigold flowers being delivered and diyās (small lamps filled with oil) laid out ready to be lit.
I felt a pang of sadness that I wasn't going to be there for the festival and longed for the day I can experience Diwali in India. With Holi and Navrātri under my belt I feel confident I can handle it.
While of course Diwali is a primarily Hindu festival, it is also observed by people of Jainism, Sikhism, as well as certain Buddhists - each with a unique way of honouring the timeless wisdom. But I can't help but feel Diwali is a human festival that all global citizens can relate to.
At its heart it's a celebration of light overcoming darkness, wisdom over ignorance and good over evil.
All things we may yearn for at this moment in human history, given the darkness that encircles the world right now.
From the root word dīpāvalī, meaning 'row of lights', it's a time to light the dark path ahead. Like a single star you can see in a black night sky, or a single candle illuminating the corner of a big room, Diwali is the light.
As the northern hemisphere begins to turn darker for longer, we can feel powerless without the natural boost we get from the sun, light and nature. We can feel hopeless to the big shifts in life, especially when blindsided by disruptive news. But in times like these, I find myself more drawn to the practices that allow me to reconnect to myself.
Of course this is things like yoga, meditation, wild swimming, walking in nature, eating and sleeping well. But Diwali offers me a slightly different focus.
As stated above the various groups of people that celebrate Diwali vary, and so too do their stories and reasons for jubilation. But more often than not (certainly within Hinduism) the festival is an ode to the Goddess of Abundance, Wealth, Love and Beauty, Lakshmi.
Before the five nights of Diwali its customary to clean and clear your home, making it fresh, cosy, uncluttered and inviting for Goddess Lakshmi. She won't grace you with her presence otherwise.
It's then customary to light your home with simple, elegant lights and lamps letting the warm glimmer of the flames dance across your ceiling.
A rangoli (northern Indian variation of a mandala) is also a popular decoration as it takes time and effort to create but won't last more than a few days as they're often made from paint powder and refreshed every single day. Therefore it's the dedication you show in making it that lasts.
We don't have a natural western equivalent but perhaps you could do this on a tray, or find another practice that captures the essence of finding the detailed care in the day to day.
Then get a list of your favourite folk and invite them for a big feast of delicious food with sparklers or even fireworks.
Make your home a beautiful place to be, make it a refuge, not just for you but many. Choose to lean into the beauty of this life, choose to love unconditionally and be rewarded with a wealth of wondrous memories.
Put simply, Diwali is all about the light, regardless of size and reach. So why not extend a little light out into the world, and just see what happens!
"Thousands of tea lights can be lit from a single candle, but the candle's life will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."
Diwali is a lunar celebration and moves according to the moon's cycles. In 2023 it's from 10th - 14th November with the main and central day on the 12th.
It's the Hindu New Year and is seen as a great time to begin a new venture!
Do you want to take a step towards a new venture?
I'd love to invite you to join a spiritual exploration with me, a 4 month course designed to delve into the philosophical core of yoga. Read a little more here: https://www.laurengray-yoga.com/the-spiritual-side.html
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