Diwali is one major festival of the Hindu calendar, a festival of lights, prosperity, and the victory of good over evil. Going by the traditional faith behind the observance several events are linked to this festival by different people, the birth of Goddess Laxmi (denoting wealth) is one, Laxmi's union with God Vishnu (the preserver and the protector) is another, in West Bengal the observance of ‘Kali Puja’ marks the manifestation of "Shakti" or power, but by and large, it is used to mark Lord Ram's return to Ayodhya, and particularly the welcome accorded to him by his subjects celebrating his grand return by lighting his way using earthenware lamps.
So whichever way one wants to see it, for wealth, for power, for the return to normal life, for the protection and preservation of all that is good in this world, and the destruction of evil, this is one day that all parts of India join hands and celebrate as one country.
It is also the new year for the business class, and the festival itself begins with the Dhanteras, or worship of God Dhanvantari, who imparted the secrets of Ayurveda for the betterment of mankind and ridding it of disease.
To call the year since the previous Diwali as tumultuous would be an understatement; changes have overtaken anything and everything in ways no one had even thought possible. The spread of disease, the stoppage of work and earnings, the political and economic stresses that have manifested themselves as disparities have spread their tentacles into each and every part of human existence, the ceaseless battles between authorities calling on citizens to be careful of the pandemic, and citizens refusing to obey simple health precautions calling it a tyranny being forced on people who don't want it. There is enough and more for anyone to "lose it" just thinking of all that is happening.
In the midst of all this, the festival marking the return of wealth, of protection, of preservation, gives us one more opportunity to get together and remind ourselves that we can work together for a better future, for ourselves, for those around us, and for the world that supports us. Let us not think for a moment that we cannot do it.
There is every reason to be optimistic, because it is out of challenges that victories arise, and progress invariably follows setbacks. The challenges are many, but if peace is not constant, neither is war, if health is not constant, neither is disease, all these things will pass, the way they have always done, and man will survive and flourish, the way he has always done. The challenges facing man today are only marking out the opportunities that lie before us, it is for us to pick up the clues and move ahead into a healthy, a wealthy and a secure future.
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