The Spiritual Meaning of Diwali
The festival of Diwali, or “The Festival of Lights,” is a holiday when families light lamps, illuminating the night. It celebrates the return of Lord Rama and his queen, Sita, to Ayodhya, the capital of his ancient kingdom. They had been in exile for 14 years. In India, people celebrate by cleaning and redecorating their homes, and shopkeepers use it as the beginning of their fiscal year. It is also the start of India’s winter season. This is a happy festival when people gather and enjoy the beautiful candles that line the roads.
Diwali and other festivals in different traditions often use the ritual of lighting candles and lamps. Lighting these also has a spiritual meaning. It illustrates the importance of lighting the lamp within us—and celebrating the festival of the light of the soul.
It is the birthright of every human being to find the “festival of lights” of his or her soul and return to God. All it takes is the desire to do so. While God has sent us to this earth, God has also made a pathway back Home. However, God has given human beings free will. We are the ones who must ask God to take us back Home. It will not be forced upon any of us. We must ask. Once we ask, God will give.
It is like a rich man who announces that he will share part of his wealth. He is not going to hand it out to everyone, whether they want it or not; he waits for those who want it to make a request. Then, he gives. A doctor who finds the cure for a disease will not go out and administer it to unwilling subjects. He announces that he has the cure, and those who wish can come to him for it. Similarly, God has spiritual riches available for each of us. If these riches were disbursed to someone without his or her asking, the receiver might reject it because he or she did not ask for it, or did not value it. God waits until we ask. Once we truly desire knowledge of the soul and the bliss and love within, God will help us find it.
We all have the opportunity to attain the bliss of union with the Lord. Yet, how few take advantage of that opportunity! Many are born, but few turn within. We can all attain this happiness. Let us not be one who misses the golden opportunity to experience union with God. Rather than just engage in lighting candles on Diwali, let us sit in meditation to light the candle within us.
The process of meditation is easy. It is a matter of closing our eyes, looking within the veil of darkness in front of us, and stilling our thoughts for a while. In that stillness, the Diwali lamps within will shine forth. Concentration on that inner light will pull our soul into the spiritual realms beyond. It will help us turn our attention to the soul and the inner spiritual realms.
Let us not only enjoy the outer lights of Diwali festivals. Let us spend time in meditation every day so that we can experience the inner lights. That is the true celebration of Diwali, so we can experience eternal ecstasy, peace, and joy.
Anything that takes us closer to God is a virtue and anything that takes us away from Him is negative.