‘The Festival of Lights around the world’
I think every culture, all over the world, in some way celebrates the festival of lights.
Every Indian religion celebrates Deepavali, more commonly known as Diwali, though they might attach a different reason behind it.
Christians all over the world celebrate Christmas by illuminating lights.
Jews celebrate Hanukkah by lighting candles.
Native Americans also have the similar festivals of lights.
In Brazil, people go to the beach at midnight on the New Year’s eve to pray to Lemanja, the African goddess. Hundreds of candles are lit in the sand.
And many others such as : St. Lucia’s Day in Sweden, St. Martin’s day in Holland and Loi-Krathong (Loy-kruh-thong) in Thailand.
Since the beginning of the time, humanity has been fascinated by the light and power of sun. Almost all the great cultures of the past recognized Sun as, not only the sustainer, but the very source of life. Hence Sun was considered the highest among gods in ancient Greek, Roman and eastern religions; such as Hinduism and Zoroastrianism. Every ancient religion worshiped either sun or its symbol; fire.
The rituals and cultural traditions are usually symbolism. They usually have another deeper meaning which, over the period of time, gets lost or forgotten.
Light and fire are associated with knowledge.
We cannot see clearly in the dark. So we need light in the physical world to see and find things.
Similarly, the light of knowledge; ‘Gyana’ is required in the mental and spiritual fields, to understand things properly and to travel on the path of spirituality.
So the real purpose of Deepavali, Diwali or any other festival of lights is to remind us the need of ‘Gyana’, the light of knowledge, to illuminate our minds.
Knowledge is Light: and the light of knowledge helps us to find the Truth.
Truth can set us free.
A beautiful prayer from the Vedas: not asking for health wealth or prosperity but;
“Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya”… “Lead me from darkness to light”.
“Asato Ma Sadgamaya ….. Lead me from Falsehood to Truth”
“Mrityur-Ma Amritam Gamaya….
Lead me from mortality to immortality; from bondage to freedom”