HAPPY DIWALI, everyone! I hope this coming year brings you everything you could want. Now...what is Diwali? In India, it's the Festival of Lights--diyas or butter lamps light every nook and cranny of the home, gifts are handed out to anyone and everyone, and the food...Mmm, the food! If India didn't have a huge pollution problem and hadn't banned pyrotechnics, there would be fireworks equaling the Fourth of July celebrations in the United States :) Diwali is associated with the inner triumphs of good over evil--Indian mythology speaks of tales of victories in battle between gods and demons. But you don't have to be Hindu or even South Asian to enjoy the amazing aspects of Diwali. Here are some ways to partake in the festivities and expose yourself to a new culture rather than fearing something so new that you don't try!
1) Light a lamp. Lighting a firecracker or an oil or butter lamp is what everyone in India does to celebrate finding the light of goodness within oneself and in others. In my family, we often put up the Christmas lights early and allow them to hang until Christmastime has passed. Even a candle will do (as I discovered this morning when I found out we didn't have some of the Diwali things I needed!). Besides...lighting a candle and taking it easy for the night? Sounds like a relaxing night to me!
2) Wear a little color. India is full of bursts of color and Diwali is no different! The best outfits, full of rhinestones, silk and sequins, are always hanging from shopkeepers' windows in preparation for the holiday. Wear a bright color to signify the start of the new year and attract brilliant things to your life!
3) EAT! The sweets at Diwali are unlike sweets at any other time of year. Boxes and boxes are given out to neighbors, friends, family and co-workers. Go out to a restaurant and order dessert to top off the meal. It'll be a wonderful escape from real life and sweeten up your night as you head into a new year...can't argue with a sweet start!
4) Meditate. I have often read that meditating on a light, or a candle, can help you focus on the positives but also still your heart and calm your mind. Sometimes when I'm stressed, I do the same thing--stare at a flame or light a candle, and just breathe in a pattern. It calms me, and grounds me. Meditation doesn't always have to be a religious practice--practicing mindfulness is an incredible way to live, let alone to start the beginning of a phase of life. If you're looking for an "Om" mantra, find them on spotify and find a pitch that speaks to your soul. According to Hindu mythology, "Om" is the sound of all creation, a low hum that symbolizes the vibrations of life. It's also super soothing to hear.
5) Spend time with friends and family. How do you stay on high moral ground and remain happy? By spending time with the lights of your life, obviously! Friends and family are so crucial to Diwali celebration. Much like Christmas, it's a time to bond with loved ones and be reminded of the grounding influence each of you have on each other.
Can you think of any others? Send them my way! And in the mean time, Happy Diwali, dear reader. May your new year be prosperous and full of joy.