Disclaimer: This post in not to mock any religion or anyone’s faith, I am just expressing my opinions. Based on my experiences and what life has shown me so far, I don’t feel inclined to believe in religion or God. Though I don’t have anything against people who do have faith; live and let live is my philosophy. But some rituals (actually superstitions) are irrelevant today and there are a few things God wouldn’t have preached, like superiority over another religion or hatred towards people of different races or faiths. And I do have a problem with those particular rituals or ideologies.
The festive season is here. Navratri and Dusshera just went by. Diwali is around the corner and the preparations are in full swing. People are cooking up some delectable delicacies, buying new clothes, electronics, new jewellery, firecrackers and so much more. This is a joyous period of time, bringing together families and friends.
Normally I don’t have a problem with any of it, but I always wonder when did materialism get associated with religion and that in turn got associated with our festivals? I understand buying electronics or even jewellery as this is the time for heavy discounts. But I don’t understand the taboo associated to it if a person does not buy these things. It’s not ok to judge people based on their buying habits.
Festivals are a time to cut through the differences and coming together and leaving them aside. This is the time to give, rather than show-off and indulge in pretense. How many people actually donate food and money to the needy? People make 1000 kg sweets to enter some kind of record books, but never actually give that food away to those who really need it. Or they waste milk by pouring it on stone idols. (scientifically speaking, the stone absorbs the liquid, so that makes it look like the idol is drinking it… Duhhh!!) How do we become so selfish and stupid to think fun can be had only when we think about ourselves?
I love Diwali, not because of any religious belief, but because it is the festival of lights. Lights symbolize hope, love and joy. That’s what this festival should be about. Not about how much gold people buy or how much they spend on firecrackers. Firecrackers are bad, for health, for our planet, for the animals who are scared to death because of the loud bombs. The poor things have nowhere to go and hide from all the noise. And the terminally ill, the heart patients and old people, they all have so many problems during Diwali. My brother when he was down with kidney failure, he used to have palpitations and breatjing problems because of all the fireworks. Nor is it about how many little light-bulb strings you light up; which is nothing but wastage of precious electricity. Its like whoever spends the most on firecrackers is the most religious person. Is it a race where you have to come first? In that case how do religion or God fit into the equation? Did God ask us to be so competitive with each other?
According to our traditions, Diwali was celebrated because Rama returned home after defeating Ravana. In those days, the firecrackers and light bulbs had not been invented. Did they not enjoy? I bet they enjoyed much more than any of us. They had nothing but love to share. And there was no materialism that ate away the true essence of the festivities. Why do we make so many mouth watering snacks and sweets? So that we could share all the amazing food with our loved ones and spend quality time with them.
My favorite part of Diwali is, making beautiful Rangoli right at the entrance of the house, to light up the beautiful earthen diyas, to put fresh flowers everywhere and to eat and share the goodies that my mom makes.We light up the Tiffany Lamps made by my parents (only for a few hours) and light up diyas all over the house. The simple earthen lamp lights and the decorations bring out that joyousness in me. Spending time with family and friends, eating all those delicious snacks and sweets, that’s what matters to me.
They say that Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth enters all our homes, to bless us with wealth and prosperity. I have no problems with that idea. But can we really believe that spreading pollution and scaring all the animals and birds to death is going to please her? No it will not please her. What will please her is if she sees us doing something meaningful, like helping out the needy instead of wasting our money on harmful stuff.
Most people haven’t read their scriptures carefully, all the scriptures of every religion have the same basic tenets. To live a clean and uncomplicated life and to love and respect others. I simply don’t believe that if God existed, he/she could teach hatred and intolerance. Or even having fun on others’ expense. On one hand, people preach God and religion, but on the other, they harbor poisonous thoughts and they spew venom on people they deem as inferior to them. Most of the times, the most religious people are also the most poisonous.
I was born on Diwali, that’s why my name is Sampada; it means prosperity and it is also one of the 1000 names given to Goddess Lakshmi. I was born right on what we call as Muhurat (The time when stars align and we can perform the Puja). Even though I don’t believe in God, I still join in all the rituals to keep my family happy. Their happiness matters more than my own beliefs. So for a few days, I put aside my beliefs and do everything I can to make them feel all festive. Though thankfully, my family does not believe in elaborate and irrelevant rituals. Our puja is simple and short.
Of course, I never ever burst crackers; primarily because I don’t want to contribute to the air and the noise pollution and child labor, and also because I miss my brother too much and I don’t feel like bursting crackers without him.
I just hope that people enjoy the festivities without harming the environment and doing something fruitful rather than believe in silly superstitions. Materialism should have no place, it is not something that enriches our lives. Those little moments with family and friends, that content feeling you get when you help someone less fortunate collectively brings out the joyousness; it will bring more peace within us.
May this Diwali enlighten the people with wisdom and bring contentment, prosperity and happiness in their lives.