In the Hindu tradition Diwali is symbolically associated with the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Diyas (oil lamps), candles and other lights adorn the house and its environs, dispelling the darkness of Kartika, the darkest month of the year.
The festival’s association with the triumph of good over evil are linked to several folk lore and religious traditions. One of the most popular, is the return of Lord Rama to his home kindgom of Ayodhya after vanquishing the evil Ravana, the arrogant and mighty King of Lanka who thought he was indestructible. The cruelties and excesses of Ravana and his ‘rakshas’ (demon) kin, were making life impossible for the ordinary people. He had to be removed.
Diwali 2011 is pregnant with modern day parallels to this ancient tale from the Ramayana. In recent months the world has witnessed the fall of several evil and despotic leaders.
Such events reinforce for all of us the universality of the message of the Ramayana: that tyrants and despots do not last. It is truth, goodness and the will of the people that inevitably triumph over evil. This is one of the most basic tenets of nature and an intrinsic part of the wisdom of all religions.
Here in Fiji, we may have little to celebrate this Diwali – deprived of our fundamental freedoms, and faced with many difficulties that have darkened our little world, leaving us downhearted and depressed.
But let the spirit of Diwali, and the teachings of the Ramayana, enlighten our hearts and homes from within; and the glow of diyas infuse in us new hopes for a better future.