Every time someone asks me what Diwali signifies, my throat dries out a little bit. India is so complex and our festivals are rooted in so much scripture and celebrated with so many rituals, that it makes me dizzy.
In my defense, how am I to explain, in proportionate detail, the story of Lord Ram and good triumphing over evil (and all the other demons slayed during the five days that entail our very illustrious celebrations). This would just open up the conversation on the millions of gods we pray to. How am I to explain why we buy gold on Dhanteras? How do I sort the days which are dedicated to celebrating marriage or siblings or our ancestors correctly? How do I explain why we celebrate by lighting a million diyas and bursting firecrackers on the already tumultuous streets of India? How can I bring into light, how this festival unifies a very diverse population in a very large (and often divided) country?
So, I cop out and just say its a celebration of light and love. And money. I suppose, in all practicality, its a celebration of property and good fortune.
To me, however, Diwali signifies family-time and an opportunity to hit the reset on my life and change things I don’t like. It also ends up making me feel pretty darn grateful. Anyone who knows me knows that there isn’t a day when I don’t light candles. They soothe me and remind me of what a great lady had told me once, ‘the hottest part of the flame is the smallest and the coolest to the sight.’ Most importantly, it reminds me of the power of choice. To always choose good over evil. To always choose what’s right over what’s convenient. And most importantly, to always forgive myself when I falter, because I will. And that’s OK.
Happy Diwali everyone! May you chose how you live your life! <3