As part of my upbringing, Diwali was the most festive of the Hindu holidays we celebrated. We also recognized Raksha Bandhan, and to a lesser extent Holi. Being part of the Indian community we also recognized Republic Day, but with much less fanfare.
Diwali, often referred to as the Festival of Lights, is marked in Hindu mythology as Ram’s homecoming after 14 years in exile which culminated in the defeat of Ravan. His return to his kingdom in Ayodya was marked by people lighting his path with rows of lamps. It is occasionally referred to as the Hindu New Year as business will reset their books. Individuals will hold a Laskshmi puja and pray for a good year ahead.
Growing up it was always exciting to receive gifts, light candles and have sweets. We did not enjoy all of the fireworks and such. We also recognized it as a holy day and for my family that meant some form of abstinence, similar to the time of Lent for Christians. As we ate meat, a convenient form of abstinence was to forego meat for the day, which was more in line with Vaishnav Hinduism anyway.
As the holiday came and went in my household this year, I doubt my 1.5 year old daughter noticed. I did call family to wish them a Happy Diwali. My wife took the initiative to share the prosperous time with our neighbors and business colleagues. I was kind of pleased that the Dow Jones Industrial Average popped for 889 points.
As background for this post, I put some thought into the battle of Good versus Evil, and Ram performing his duty despite many hardships. This tenant of Hinduism to perform one’s duty without searching for a reward has resonated with me more than anything else I have observed or have been taught. While I have not always strived to that end, this year does offer me to perform my duties as a Father, Husband, Son, Brother, employee, friend, et cetera better and with more conviction. Selfishness has rarely brought me happiness