*Please enjoy this abundant, eye-opening piece from our guest blogger, Jayshri Chasmawala*
This time of year brings feelings of joy, hope, and festivities! The days are getting shorter, the nights longer, the air cooler. But there was always warmth and light in the house at the time of Diwali.
Diwali is a major festival in the Indian calendar. It occurs on a new moon in Oct/Nov. We are celebrating Lord Rama’s return to His kingdom after a 14 year exile. Rama is an incarnation of God, who came to live the life of an ideal king, an ideal son, an ideal husband. He demonstrated living righteously while ruling firmly and with compassion. During His exile in the forest, His wife Sita, an incarnation of the Goddess, was kidnapped by the demon Ravana, who was enchanted by Her beauty. After defeating Ravana and rescuing His queen, Lord Rama returned home to claim His rightful position of King. He returned on a New Moon night so everyone lit lamps and candles to light his way. Diwali has now become a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, light over dark, hope over despair. For many Indians, Diwali also marks the end of the year and the start of the new year.
When I was a kid, I vaguely knew these stories. What I did know was that we had amazing treats- both savory and sweet. We would gather together as a family, and sometimes several families, and have fun over good food, fancy colorful outfits and festivities. We would paint colorful patterns on the porch and sidewalks, called Rangolis. We would light candles, play with sparklers, and exchange gifts. Oh, and get fed tasty sweets. Have I mentioned all the treats? That’s because food, especially sweets, are also a big part of the celebration.
One vivid memory I have is my mom would give me a fried lentil ball which I was to take and divide it into 4 parts. Then I go outside and throw each part in one of the cardinal directions, North first then South then East and finally West. After which the festivities begin. I never understood why I did this. I recently asked my Mom, what was the purpose of that ceremony. She responded that it was meant to release us from bad energy, thoughts, vibes holding us back to allow good energy and prosperity to enter into our lives. I remember we would clean the house and get rid of stuff right before Diwali for the same reason. Release the old, make room for the new.
After all, another big part of Diwali is the bestowing of blessings for the New Year. Blessings for peace, joy, love and, especially, prosperity. By exchanging these blessings and other ceremonies, we allow the Goddess of Wealth and Fortune to bless us with wealth. I’m named after the Goddess of Wealth, specifically my name means one who is victorious over wealth. I think that’s one of the reasons I love this holiday. I’m connected to it through my name.
Now that I’m older, I relish these traditions of my family and ancestors. I understand the deeper meanings behind the celebrations that it’s all meant to bring wealth and prosperity. Wealth is more than just money, it’s how happy we are, how connected we are to each other, it’s how we are contributing to the world. It’s how much we invite God and service into our lives. To quote Cesar Chavez “Real wealth is never measured by money, power or status, real wealth is measured in the legacy we leave behind for people we love and inspire!”
I think about my legacy a lot these days. I thought I would find fulfillment as a physician treating patients. However in this corporatized healthcare system the pressure was to see more and more patients and spend less and less time with them. So in searching for a better way, I realized my legacy is to empower overwhelmed busy professionals to have more joy, vitality and abundance. To have hope that there is a better way than the current system. To find the light that brings them out of the darkness and find peace and prosperity.
Happy Diwali! May the light illuminate your path to real wealth!
~Jayshri R. Chasmawala