Diwali is coming! This Saturday and Sunday, we will be celebrating Diwali and Govardhan Pooja at Radha Madhav Dham, in Austin, Texas. Festivities will start at 5:00 pm, with plenty of food, prayer and dancing to follow. Make sure to come the next day for Govardhan Pooja as well, to pay your respects to Giriraj Maharaj and see the immense offerings made to our very own Govardhan Hill.
Formal invitations aside, I want to express some sincere wishes here. Diwali is a kind of New Year’s for Indians, a time to reunite with friends and family, to share in and celebrate the good times, the new beginnings. The lighting of the lamps and the ignition of fireworks is a symbol, the flash in the darkness, the power that fuels the devotion in our hearts. Whatever potential we have, for good or ill, Diwali is a time to focus on the good, on advancing spiritually, on taking stock of our blessings and hopes.
I’m writing this here, and a part of me is wondering if I’ll remember this wish by Saturday. I guess that makes remembrance wish number two, not only to remember our own commitments to spiritual advancement but to remember God as well. There are many paths to God, through bhakti, karm, or gyan, but all of them require remembrance. It’s a choice of discipline (literally), and how much focus you can apply. But I guess wishing for more of that is never a bad thing.
With fall and winter coming round the bend, it’s important that we are lighting fires for Diwali, to signal not only light against darkness but also heat against the cold. This is a metaphor that extends into interpersonal relations, and into my next wish. A festival is very well and good for happiness and merriment among comrades and relatives, but once it ends the same disputes arise, the same old hurts and frustrations. I hope we can take the same warmth from Diwali and turn it into greater conviviality with all people. Whatever anxieties or fears we may have when it comes to dealing with others, Diwali should be a reminder to us that warmth can spread from one smile to another.
This is the first Diwali I will be home for in six years. It means a lot to me, for a lot of reasons, but perhaps none more important than this last wish. I moved home to Austin in August, and have been in a flurry of activity, restlessness and labor since. There has been little time to unpack, not the boxes and suitcases but what it means to come home, and really understand what I want out of life, where I want to go and what I want to do. This is a wish that has already happened in the physical sense, but there is still some feeling on some level or the other that hasn’t been fulfilled yet. My wish for Diwali is to leave it feeling like I’ve come home.