May this Diwali bind us in love, goodwill and mutual respect

Venkat Raman
Auckland, November 12, 2023

Happy Diwali! Happy Deepavali! Happy Dhanteras!

Millions of Hindus, joined by millions of people of other faiths will mark Diwali or Deepavali, or Dhanteras, the Festival of Lights throughout the world today. This is a time to rejoice, promote goodwill and harmony and celebrate the goodness in all of us.

Indian Newslink wishes you- our Reader, Advertiser, Sponsor, Contributor, Well-wisher, friend and competitor the best of everything that this world and life can offer. We hope that you will celebrate this festival with your family and friends and spread the message of joy and happiness.

Transcending barriers

Diwali has always had a festive connotation with the Hindu belief that it symbolises the adage that evil will always be vanquished and that truth will always prevail, no matter how long it takes.

But the most significant aspect of the festival which has now assumed national and international proportions is that it denotes peace, progress and prosperity for all, transcending religious, social and other faiths; that it eulogises harmony, happiness and honour among men, women and children across social, economic and political spectrums; and that it ushers in a new era of hope and not despair; confidence and not diffidence and trust and not suspicion in the lives of ordinary people like us.

New Zealand has been the home for Indians since the late 19th century with the arrival of the early settlers from Gujarat and Punjab and over the years, the country has witnessed tens of thousands of people of Indian origin relocating to this country as immigrants, expatriates and students.

While the initial reaction of Indians arriving from India has always been one of amazement taking in the country’s breathtaking beauty with its clean and green environment, they soon settle themselves to a life of fulfilment, pursuing their interests.

New Zealand and its people amuse migrants from India and other parts of the world. They try to integrate themselves into the mainstream of the social fabric but seek with equal enthusiasm an identity within their ethnic groups.

Enriching a heritage

Cultural programmes including classical music, dance and drama have helped to highlight the rich cultural heritage of India, even as the country’s culinary delicacies have whetted the appetite of a growing number of European, Maori and Pacific Islander population in the country.

And religious festivals enhance human understanding.

While Muslim observances including Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha and Christian festivities such as Christmas and Easter are not restricted to the Indian community, festivals of the Hindu, Punjabi and Farsi communities that are of Indian origin also enlist the participation of all communities.

Diwali brings to the fore the colourful culture and history that India holds with pride and it is heartening to see the Indian community preserving its traditional and social values.

The Festival of Lights reminds us of the presence of a vibrant community which contributes to the progress and development of New Zealand.

Different Legends, one Festival

Diwali is perhaps unique in that it is observed at least for five different reasons and is marked by as many variations.

The Mahishasura episode

According to an ancient Hindu legend, ‘Mahishasura’ (The Great Demon) wreaked havoc, killing thousands of innocent people. Empowered to remain immortal and invincible by the ‘Trimurthis’ (Lords Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma), the demon’s atrocities grew by the day with arrogance.

Besieged by their own boon, the Trimurthis turned to their respective wives Parvathi, Lakshmi and Saraswathi for salvation. The three forms of ‘Shakthi’ (Power) jointly created ‘Mahadevi’ to vanquish the demon.

Following a bitter battle, Mahishasura was killed and Mahadevi was crowned, ‘Mahishasura Mardhini.’

The victory of the good over evil was marked by Diwali.

Another Hindu belief: Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama and his Coronation

 

The Narakasura Story

Naraka was another demon, feared as ‘Narakasura,’ who was granted supremacy over demons, gods and mankind.

Fortified by this boon, Naraka unleashed a reign of terror, plundering and looting all three worlds. He expelled Indira from the ‘Upper World’ of Devas (Gods).

On an appeal from the Gods, Lord Vishnu, in His incarnation as Krishna killed Narakasura helped by His wife Satyabhama on a moonless night.

Celebrated as Diwali, the conquest of the demon was also known as ‘Narakachaturdasi.’

Samudra Manthan

The retrieval of ‘Amrita,’ a sweet potion that immortalised the Devas ruled by Indira, is often quoted as an incident that led to the celebration of Diwali.

According to a Hindu legend, Lord Vishnu advised Indira and his colleagues to consume the ‘Amrita’ to attain immortality and vanquish the demons who were gaining strength.

The ‘Amrita’ was in a cavern beneath the ocean.

“Churn the ocean using ‘Mandhara,’ the tallest mountain as the churning rod with the largest serpent Vasuki as the churning rope,” ordered Vishnu.

It is said the venom of the serpent was consumed by Lord Shiva (to avoid destruction of all living beings) and stopped at his throat by his wife Parvathi (thereby earning the title, ‘Neelakantan’ or Neel Kant’ meaning ‘One with the Blue Throat’).

As the churning progressed, Dattatreya, the Lord of Good Health and Medicine emerged from the ocean and offered the ‘Amrita’ to Indira and his colleagues.

Emerging from the ocean, Goddess Lakshmi is believed to have married Lord Vishnu, leading to the celebration of Diwali.

The conquest of Ravana

Amongst all the theories that are mentioned as the cause and effect of the Festival of Lights, the story of Lord Rama (as an Avatar of Vishnu) conquering Ravana, the Sri Lankan emperor (also known as ‘Lankeshwar’) is the most popular among Hindus throughout India, especially those in the South.

It is said that in this Avatar, Lord Vishnu taught the world the virtues of obeying parents, and the guru, performance of duty, conjugal fidelity, the perils of arrogance and misuse of power and worst of all abducting another person’s wife.

There is a theory that two staunch devotees (Jaya and Vijaya’) who were guards at the seventh entrance of Lord Vishnu’s abode were cursed by ‘Saptarishis’ (Seven sages) to be born as atheists. Upon an appeal, the Lord told them they would be returned to their position after three births.

Thus, the roles of Hiranyaaksha and his brother Hiranyakashipu (Narasimha Avatar), Ravana and Kumbhakarna (Rama Avatar), Dantavaktra, and Sisupala (Krishna Avatar) were said to have completed the curse. The abduction of Sita by Ravana led to a fierce battle and the demon’s conquest is celebrated as Diwali.

Indian Newslink belongs to a family of readers who represent every facet of human faith and disposition, some of them even transcending the borders of religion, just as they do with language and nationality. It is therefore natural for us to commemorate every major event on the social and religious calendar of the community of people with equal zest and sincerity.

For, we are in partnership with people and partake in their vicissitudes and joy.

Diwali is an occasion in which we rejoice with our men, women and children who celebrate the festival in their homes with men, women and children who do not celebrate the festival in their homes.

That is the spirit of the Festival of Lights.

It belongs to all.

Just like the rays of the Sun and the lights of the stars that shine from above.

Happy Diwali again!

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