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Thursday, October 31, 2013

The essence of Diwali; Happy Diwali

Special write up for Panorama Magazine

Diwali is the Indian festival of lights and is celebrated on a large scale throughout India and the Indian Diaspora. It is also celebrated in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Guyana, West Indies,  Fiji,  and of course, here in the United States.
Thanks to the Gupta’s for placing Dallas on the World Map of Diwali Celebrations. I believe it is one of the biggest celebrations in the United States, if not the biggest in the western Hemisphere.  Ramesh Gupta initiated the event eight years ago, fully supported, encouraged and funded by the Dallas billionaire couple Satish and Yasmin Gupta. 

Nearly 50,000 people attend the event. First it was held in Texas Stadium, former home of the Dallas Cowboys and now it is held at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Fair Park, Dallas, where college football is played and home to Texas State Fair.

 There is nothing like it.  Satish Gupta, president of the organizations writes this information on their website, http://www.dfwdiwalimela.com/, “This year again we have decided to pack all the fun for children, youth, adults and seniors. From Ram Leela and Bollywood singers to spectacular fireworks, elephant rides to slides, Cultural dances to mouth watering Indian food, all packed in one of the biggest Carnival of its kind in America. There will be three elephants and two camels available for the rides this year! We bring all this to you at a very minimal cost to you.”

Diwali is spelled differently, and is called by many names.  There is Divali among others, and Deepavali, meaning the festival of lights. 
Although Diwali is a Hindu tradition, people of all faiths participate in celebrations - Hindus, Jains, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and others.
People decorate their homes with lights and Rangoli, i.e., colorful drawing in the front yard of the home, sidewalks, even roads in India with colorful powders or colorful pieces of chalk. Women and Children look forward to express their artistic talent in this season. Their surroundings filled with colorful lights to enliven the day, to mark the dawn of a new era in one's life.

My childhood is filled with good memories of Diwali; the sparklers, the food and everything joyous you can imagine.

A few years ago, Jyoti and Nishi Bhatia, former President of DFW Hindu Temple and President of Dallas Hindi Association respectively, asked me to speak about Diwali in a dinner gathering to a group of people from different faiths and cultures, and I cherished it, I love talking about Diwali, as its essence reflects the ideals of pluralism, and
symbolizes hope and positive energy, victory of good over evil; a new beginning.  It is indeed seeing the light at the end of tunnel.

Diwali Celebration is a part of the epic Ramayana, and the Ram Lila is played out all night long in towns across India. I grew up watching it in front of my house, and my friends played different roles in the show. Indeed, one of my former relatives played Hanuman’s role.

It was a challenge for me to teach Ramayana to a group of people who knew nothing about it.  It turned out to be a successful program. I prepared the nearly all white audience that I will be narrating the story through the power point and along will be reinforcing the names and roles of the key persons in the story and will ask them for feed back at the end.  Friends, I cannot tell you the joy, the Bhatias and I felt when each one of them answered the questions from the story. They got it!  It is a powerful story and takes about 30 minutes to narrate.

The epic is filled with educative tales, edifying poems, and fables. It is probably through their constant retelling in the villages over centuries that Hinduism is most efficiently disseminated from generation to generation... 

Whenever a society rots with adharma (wrong path), where no one cares about the other, lying, stealing and dishonesty become rampant, Lord Krishna says, I will emerge among you and restore the righteousness and trust in the society to function smoothly.
 Zarathustra,  Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad,  Krishna, Nanak, Mahavira, Confucius, Tao  and others served the same purpose… it is almost like the laws of physics ; water finds its own level, and righteousness finds its own existence.

Rama is one such incarnation who reestablished the moral code for social conduct and proper relation of mankind to divinity.  He was truthful and a just king.  

The full story with the title “Essence of Diwali” will be available to read at www.TheGhouseDiary.com and other sites listed at www.MikeGhouse.net

Diwali symbolizes hope and positive energy
  • ·         People wear new clothes
  • ·         Share sweets as a symbol of happiness
  • ·         Renew the relationships
  • ·         Strengthen the bonds
It signifies a new beginning, starting out fresh.
  • for most businesses it is the new financial year
  • An inventory of assets is taken
  • An assessment of family and relationship 
  •  Last harvest for the farmers
  •  New things are bought

President Obama in his message last Diwali said it perfectly,

“Many who observe this holiday will light the Diya, or lamp, which symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. As that lamp is lit, we should all recommit ourselves to bring light to any place still facing darkness. Earlier this year, we were reminded of the evil that exists in the world when a gunman walked into the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and opened fire. In the wake of that horrible tragedy, we saw the resilience of a community that drew strength from their faith and a sense of solidarity with their neighbors, Sikh and non-Sikh alike. We also saw compassion and love, in the heroic actions of the first responders and the outpouring of support from people across the country. Out of a day of sadness, we were reminded that the beauty of America remains our diversity, and our right to religious freedom.

To those celebrating Diwali, I wish you, your families and loved ones Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak.”

Today, on this blessed day, we have a blank slate to start, let's plan on filling it with doing good things for ourselves, to our family, friends, community, nation and the world until next Diwali.

What are good things?  Words and actions that bring peace, Mukti, salvation, Moksha, nirvana, Nijaat and freedom to us, yes us. There is so much of joy waiting to be had. If we can remove hatred and anger towards others, forgive others and ask for forgiveness (Michami Dukadam is a beautiful phrase the Jain's use), then a blissful year is sure to come for each one of you and me.

  • May this Diwali purge your heart, mind and soul from hate, malice, anger and ill-will;
  • May this Diwali open your hearts and minds towards fellow being;
  • May this Diwali brighten your life, and may this Diwali mark the dawn of a new era;

Muslims are a big part of Diwali as well, and innumerable poets have written poetries and songs about Diwali.  Here is my effort, I wrote this seven years ago on  the occasion when Diwali and Ramadan were celebrated around the same time.

ये मेरी दिवाली है, ये मेरी ईद है
दोनों में खुशी ही खुशी है
A meri diwali hai, a meri eid hai
donon may khushi hi khushi hai
दिवाली से नया साल शुरू होता है
रमज़ान एक नया इंसान बनाता है
Diwali say naya saal shuru hota hai
Ramzan ek naya insaan banata hai
दिवाली मैं एक एक बात का हिसाब होता है
रमज़ान में हर बात का रिव्यू होता है
Diwali may ek ek baat ka hisab hota hai
Ramzan may her baat ka review hota hai
दिवाली नए साल के लिए क्लीन स्लेट देता है
रमज़ान पिछले साल का स्लेट क्लीन करता है
Diwali nayay saal ke liye clean slate deta hai
Ramzan pichlay saal ki slate clean karta hai
बात ही बात में मैंने एक नयी नज़्म लिख दी साहिर
दिवाली और रमज़ान से सबका अच्छा ही होता है
Baat hi baat may, my nay a sher likh diya Sahir
Diwali aur Ramzan say subka acha hi hota hai

Shubh kamnaein | Diwali Mubarak | Blessed Diwali.

Happy Diwali to you my friends, may this Diwali bring happiness, serenity and peace to you. Amen!

Note:  I have been writing the essence of every religious festival  for the last twenty years. Just plug in the word in the search box at www.TheGhouseDiary.com and www.WisdomofReligion.com

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.


  1. As far as I understand, Diwali signifies the unity, freedom, new beginning and victory of goodness over evil. It's really nice to celebrate the date. I am sharing my best and happy diwali wishes to all this auspicious holiday.

    Happy Diwali to all,
    Anne Walker