The Inner Meaning of Diwali
is to find the light within and share the light without
by Ami Bhalodkar *
Diwali (or Divali) comes from the Sanskrit word Deepavali which literally means "a row of lights." This auspicious holiday, known in English as the "festival of lights," is celebrated by Hindus around the world, and for most Hindus marks the beginning of the New Year. It historically symbolizes the victory of good over evil and celebrates light and life on both community and personal levels. On the one hand, it is a time to rejoice and feast with friends and family. Homes are cleaned and decorated with bright earthen lamps in every corner, and delicious meals are prepared and shared with all. Old accounts are closed, and arguments are settled.
On a more personal level, however, Diwali is a time to turn inward and light the lamps of knowledge and truth in our hearts and minds so that we can dispel the forces of darkness and ignorance within us and allow our innate brilliance and goodness to shine forth. Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, is the principle deity associated with this festival. During Diwali we ask her for assistance in cultivating and accumulating spiritual wealth, such as compassion, forgiveness, and loving-kindness.
Diwali is a time to reflect on and evaluate our thoughts, words, and actions over the past year. It is a time to acknowledge and better understand our prejudices, negative behaviors, and bad habits so that we may begin the process of transforming ourselves. It is a time to discover how we can be more loving, kind, respectful, and skillful towards ourselves and others. And since all wealth, be it material or spiritual, should be shared with others who are less fortunate, Diwali is also a time to reflect on the various ways we can assist others and shine our light out into the world....more
The Wheel of Spiritual Possibilities
Diwali is a time to remember the plenitude of possibilities that lie within each of us. A wheel of spiritual possibilities below has been developed by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of Spirituality and Practice, rendered into diagram form by Jacob Turner. You can learn much more about the spiritual alphabet by going to the Spirituality and Practice website. The site also offers ways of practicing the possibilities in daily life so that each person can become, in his or her way, a light unto the world.