DIWALI THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHT AND THE TRUE LIGHT


An American friend asked me what is this Diwali? I said it is “the festival of light,” mainly celebrated by the Hindu community in India. It also represents the victory of light over darkness. To me it is a competitive demonstration of fireworks, lights, sweets and celebration. On a Diwali night, few years back I was in Madras (Presently called Chennai, one of the southern cities in India). I was traveling from Northern part of our country to the south after a few years. I lived most of my Indian life in Kerala, where Diwali is not celebrated how it is in the rest of India. I was travelling for few days and I wanted to have some rest and sleep. But the Madrasis did not put me to sleep because they were celebrating Diwali. What a bad day to take rest or sleep.
In a postmodern, globalized, marginalized, consumeristic, self-absorbed, power hungry, technologically enhanced India what it means to celebrate a festival of light? In the midst where the exploitation and cultural exclusion of children, women, elderly, sick, differently abled, refugees, persecuted minorities, etc. what it means to have victory over darkness. Indian is known as land of enlightenment. Do all these light bring any enlightenment in your life.  
Once one Guru (Teacher) asked his disciples, when do you see the darkness depart and light come in to the world? Each of the disciples said different things such as, when I can identify the tree with it’s leafs, that is when I know the light has come and darkness depart. Another one said when I could see and identify the red rose in the garden. The Guru was not satisfied with the answers. He said it is when you identify human being as your brother, that is when the darkness departs and light comes.  
Johari window in psychology also deals with this issue of darkness and light in a person’s life. Johari window deals four different aspects of a person’s life. One is open self, hidden self, blind self and dark self. According to the theory you have a better personality if your open window is much bigger than any other windows. Can this festival of light open the window of light in India and beyond.
Post modernism also deals with this Dualism of light and darkness. They are the binary opposite. Dualism is closely associated with the philosophy of René Descartes (1641), who holds the view that the mind is a nonphysical substance. He clearly identified the mind with consciousness and self-awareness and distinguished this from the brain as the seat of intelligence. Hence, he was the first to formulate the mind–body problem in the form in which it exists today. Clinical pastoral counselors love to identify the psycho-somatic relationship of the problem. The question here is will this festival of light eradicate the darkness from the consciousness of Indian mind or merely remain as a noise, light and sweets.
Jesus said to his disciples, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." The Greek for this verse shows that what has been universally translated as "the world" kosmos (gk) could just as well have been translated as: the inhabitants of the earth, or men/women, or the human family. The promise or outcome of following Jesus is an invitation to come out of darkness, to walk in the light, to have the light of life. Fallen or sinful human being is in spiritual darkness. In darkness, we stumble, we grope, and we guess what is good and what is bad. The best we can do is to choose what is less evil instead of greater evil. The message of God’s kingdom enlightens others as we are enlightened. Let this true light help us to be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, so that we may show forth the praises of God, who has called you out of darkness into the marvelous light. 1 Pet 2:9.


Binu B. Peniel
2014 (C) binu.peniel@gmail.com

Dr. Binu Peniel

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