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Om Sweet Om


Happy Diwali: Being like the wick

posted by sheetal

Today, Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, which symbolizes the light of knowledge over the darkness of ignorance.  It’s a day for children to light small firecrackers, family and friends to exchange mithai, and celebrants to light diyas in their homes. As Diwali greetings fill my inbox, one in particular stood out.  ”For an oil lamp to burn, the wick has to be in the oil, yet out of the oil. If the wick is drowned in oil, it cannot bring light. Life is like the wick of the lamp; you have to be in the world yet remaining untouched by it.”

These three lines so beautifully capture the Hindu philosophy behind yoga, explained by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras: “Yoga is the cessation of mental fluctuations.”   If we are constantly drowned in emotions of happiness or sadness, jealousy or anger, stress or laziness, then our mental state is always fluctuating.  Our emotions arise from attachments to “things” – whether we are in search of them, or have them and can’t bear to part with them, or lost them – we are emotionally vested in “things.”  We are happy when we get them, sad when we lose them, jealous when someone else has them, disappointed when we try to get them but can’t, and angry when they are taken from us.  So, the mind becomes a victim to constantly changing emotions.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna explains:

“For a person dwelling on the objects of the sense, attachment to them develops; From attachment, selfish desire develops; form desire, anger develops. From anger comes bewilderment, disturbed memory; from disturbed memory, loss of discernment; from loss of discernment one becomes lost.”

The goal of yoga is to reduce the emotional highs and lows in order to find a more balanced state allowing us to find inner peace.  Krishna continues:

“There is no discernment for one who is not absorbed in yoga; and for one not absorbed in yoga, there is no meditative state; And for one who has no meditative state, there is no peace – for one who is not peaceful, from where is happiness to come?”

So, like the wick of the diya, the goal is to be able to live amongst “things” but not be drowned by our desire for them.  And the in wake of Hurricane Sandy, with so many New Yorkers continuing to struggle for basic necessities, it’s a good time to try to reign in our many wants and find contentment with all that we already possess.

Happy Diwali!



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ram Sidhaye

    Sheetal,

    Shubh Deepawali.

    Thanks for another great article.
    I plan to send the link to my friends and family members.

    Keep it up

    Ram Sidhaye
    Hari OM!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Dirgha Raj Prasai

    Happy’Dipawali’2012!
    The Famous Hindus Festival in Nepal

    By Dirgha Raj Prasai

    From the waning moon in between Oct. and Nov, (Kartik), there starts the indigenous Festival Dipawali-Tihar-the light day in Nepal, India and in all over the world. In this year it starts Nov-13-15 2069 Bs. Due to the Tithi disturbance, Crow and Dog worshiping day is joined in a day. We the Nepalese people have glorious history on ‘Himabatkhand.’ The Nepali festival Tihar is also known by many names such as Dipawal in Nepal, or Bhai Tika or Laxmi Puja or as a festival of lights and Diwali in India. It is a five-days festival, which comes soon after the Dashain Festival, and Tihar is all about worshiping of different animals such as crow, dog, cow, and worshiping of the Hindu Goddess of Fortune or Wealth (Goddess Laxmi), and cooking great meals at home, brothers and sisters shopping for gifts, flying kites, decorating homes and streets, playing cards with friends, resting and relaxing, and finally ending the festival with an exchange of a special temporary mark on forehead.

    The last day of the festival is known as Tika day or popularly known as Bhai Tika (brothers’ day). To sum up Tihar festival, Tihar is the festival when sisters wish a long life to their brothers (Bhai). Tihar is a festival for brothers and sisters, but What if you are a brother without a sister or a sister without a brother. Well, you can make one by accepting someone close to you in your relatives. Tihar is a festival of sisters wishing a long life to their brothers and Tihar is the most popular festival in Nepal, India and in all over world where Hindus have been living . The Nepali festival Tihar is also known by many names such as Dipawali or Bhai Tika or Laxmi Puja or as a festival of lights.
    It is a five-days festival, which comes soon after the Dashain Festival, and Tihar is all about worshiping of different animals such as crow, dog, cow, and worshiping of the Hindu Goddess of Fortune or Wealth (Goddess Laxmi), and cooking great meals at home, brothers and sisters shopping for gifts, flying kites, decorating homes and streets, playing cards with friends, resting and relaxing, and finally ending the festival with an exchange of a special temporary mark on forehead. The last day of the festival is known as Tika day or popularly known as Bhai Tika (brothers day) To sum up Tihar festival, Tihar is the festival when sisters wish a long life to their brothers (Bhai)!

    Exactly, Nepal Sambat and Mahapuja celebrates in just the day of Govardhan Puja (body worshiping organized by Newars) have been celebrating in the time of Dipawali-’Tihar’ in Nepal. During the festival all the houses in the city and villages are decorated with lit oil lamps. Thus during the night the entire village or city looks like a sparkling diamond. This festival is celebrated in five days.
    ‘The eve of Laxmi Puja Day is made spectacular not only by lights but also by echoes of a special song including dancing known as Bhailo or Bhailini that’s played only on Tihar and Songs : Deusi Songs (4th Day) Male members sing what is called Deusi or Deusuray in Nepali. Tihar is also the time to re-call their continued wish for a long and a happy life for their brothers. Brothers sit on a floor while sisters perform their Puja. Puja involves following a traditional ritual in which sisters circle brothers three times dripping oil on the floor from a copper pitcher. Afterwards, sisters put oil in brother’s ears and hairs, and then give Tika. Also breaking of walnuts by sisters prior to giving Tika to brothers is also a common practice. After tika, flower garland is put around brother’s neck. Then brothers give tika to sisters in the same fashion. Sisters also receive flower garland around their neck. Brothers give gifts such as clothes or money to sisters while sisters give a special gift. Those without a sister or brother, join relatives or friends for Tika. Sisters pray for their brother’s long life to the Hindu God of Death (Yam Raj). Tihar and Flower Garland is called Malla.
    Tihar is probably the best festival of all due to its short holiday period yet packed with much excitement unlike other Nepali festivals! Tihar and Rani Pokharai (Pond) Rani Pokhari in center of Kathmandu built by Pratap Malla-1649-50, is located at the center of Kathmandu. This famous pond has a small holy temple located at the center. The compound’s door is locked all year around except on the day of Bhai Tika. During the festival all the houses in the city and villages are decorated with lit oil lamps. Thus during the night the entire village or city looks like a sparkling diamond. This festival is celebrated in five days starting from the thirteenth day of the waning moon in October. We also refer to Tihar as ‘Panchak Yama’ which literally means ‘the five days of the underworld lord’. We also worship ‘Yamaraj’ in different forms in these five days. In other words this festival is meant for life and prosperity.
    Hindu’s all over the world, irrespective of their caste, creed and country of origin, Celebrates this festival’-Tihar’-'Deepawali’. A famous Indian religious revolutionary A. Swami Vivekananda had said- ‘The light of Deepawali is also the light of freedom from control, freedom from tyranny and freedom from all that artificially divides humanity.’ In the last day, the sister worships their brothers for their prosperous long life worshiping the ‘Yamaraj’ (God of death). The main theme behind Bhai Tika (worshiping brothers) is the sisters praying for their brother’s long life from Yama Raj, god of the underworld. Tihar starts from the thirteenth day of the waning moon in October. We also refer to Tihar as ‘Yama Panchak’ which literally means ‘the five days of the underworld lord’. We also worship ‘Yamaraj’ in different forms in these five days. In other words this festival is meant for life and prosperity. It is a celebration of the triumph of light over darkness and of hope over despair. That the festival is celebrated by people from diverse faiths is a significant affirmation of the great Hindus traditions in the world. In this occasion, we extend good wishes each other for our prosperous future.
    Happy Dipawali-2069 Bs (2012)
    Email:dirgharajprasai@gmail.com

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