Celebrating Diwali

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This month Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Newar Buddhists will be celebrating the feast of Diwali.  It is a great celebration, a time for family, for the exchanging of gifts, for dressing up and decorating homes.  A friend, reminiscing about his childhood impressions, just shared with me: “It was all about seeing cousins, staying up late with amazing food and fireworks. The bustle of the temple with other festival goers and the packed streets of Leicester was always a joy”.

The central theme of Diwali is light and the festivities are always characterised by the lighting of many clay oil lamps. At its heart Diwali celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, righteousness over wickedness, truth over falsehood, wisdom over ignorance and justice over injustice.

And faith in the victory of good over evil is desperately needed now as we are daily reminded of the power of evil through hatred and violence. We need to take every opportunity to kindle faith in the final victory of truth beauty and love – of goodness.

To me, it is terribly important to continue to pray for the manifestation of this victory of goodness in the crises of our times.  Despair never helps. As the old adage says:

“It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness”.

Making our own contribution to peace, among other things, means striving for peace in our own personal world, in our relationships and in our minds and hearts. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, is a great teacher on peace building. He taught in his own country of Vietnam during the war there and extensively in America, Europe and Australia when he was exiled from his country. Although he was a Buddhist, his teaching on peace building is applicable by people of all faiths. He was a close friend of the Roman Catholic monk, Thomas Merton, and nominated by Martin Luther King for the Nobel Peace Prize. If anyone would like to find out more about his advice for building peace, I recommend his book: Peace is Every Step.

But we started with the great global festival of Diwali. Someone might feel that it is hard to celebrate during such desperate times.  But surely we need to be thankful daily for every glass of water, every meal, every time we use a device and have enough electricity to power it, every time we know that our loved ones are safe – to give thanks and to remember those for whom this is not so. And when a great celebration comes round, lets enter into it with zest and energy, celebrating indeed that good is stronger than evil!

Wishing you a Diwali that brings happiness prosperity and joy to you and all your loved ones.

Mother Sarah

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