Manitoba·Point of View

'We can never have enough light and love in our lives': The joy of Diwali, the festival of light

This week, Hindus all over the northern hemisphere will celebrate Diwali — the festival of light and love, which celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. Julie Rajkumar says for her, it's a time to come together with family and fill homes with lights and lots of love.

'The feeling of the warmth from the light that encompasses you … is spiritual,' says Julie Rajkumar

A devotee lights oil lamps at a religious ceremony during the Diwali festival at a Hindu temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2017. This week, Hindus all over the northern hemisphere will observe the festival of light and love, which celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

I'm a strong believer that when you vibrate light from within, you will illuminate others onto your path, creating love and unity in humanity.

This week, Hindus all over the northern hemisphere will observe Diwali — the festival of light and love, which celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.

Diwali for me is a time when our families come together and fill our homes with lights and lots of love and just spend time together in the radiance of the diyas — lamps which are made out of mud or clay, filled with ghee (clarified butter) and lit with cotton wicks. 

Diyas are lamps made out of mud or clay, filled with ghee (clarified butter) and lit with cotton wicks. 'The feeling of the warmth from the light that encompasses you and fills you with warmth and joy is spiritual,' says Julie Rajkumar. (CBC)

Diwali — which starts on Nov. 6 this year — is a five-day festival in honour of Mother Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. It also is in remembrance of the celebrations which took place when, according to legend, King Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshman returned from exile, and imprisonment, to their kingdom in northern India. His return brought happiness to Ayodhya (a city in India).

Devotees will do some auspicious work and prayers on the day of Diwali. This is completed with prayers and blessing to bring prosperity and abundance into the homes and lives all across the world.

In preparation of Diwali and welcoming Goddess Lakshmi in their lives, devotees will clean and decorate their homes. They will light the diyas, which illuminate their houses inside and out.

A woman decorates her house on the eve of Diwali in Mumbai in this 2017 file photo. 'We decorated our home all over with diyas — up and down our pathways, up our stairs and in every windowsill,' Julie Rajkumar recalls. 'It was a fun competition between our neighbours to see who would have the most lights.' (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

They will also spend time cooking and baking special sweets and delicacies that will be offered to Goddess Lakshmi.

Mother Lakshmi is an important deity within the religion of Hinduism — along with being the goddess of wealth, light, beauty, purity and prosperity, she also represents maternal love, compassion, gentleness and charity. She is closely associated with three elements that are fundamental to sustain life: earth, light and water.

Months of preparation

I can remember when I was little, and the months of preparation our family would do for Diwali. 

My dad would bring bamboo rods and cut them in half so we could pour the ghee into the cavity between the joints, creating a long rod of lights that we could attach to our fence. 

We decorated our home all over with diyas — up and down our pathways, up our stairs and in every windowsill. It was a fun competition between our neighbours to see who would have the most lights.

Thamiska Ramasir, a seven-year-old girl, lights diyas in preparation to celebrate Diwali in this 2017 file photo. 'For me, it clears out all the negative thoughts and brings more light into my home,' says Julie Rajkumar. (Rajesh Jantilal/AFP/Getty Images)

My mom would make sweets and invite the neighbours over to enjoy them. Regardless of whether our neighbours were of a different religion, we would all get together for the celebration.

One of my favourite parts of Diwali is when all the preparations are done, the lights are off and you light your diyas. The feeling of the warmth from the light that encompasses you and fills you with joy is spiritual.

I absolutely relish that feeling. For me, it clears out all the negative thoughts and brings more light into my home.

I believe Diwali is a holiday everyone can participate in, especially in today's society. We can never have enough light and love in our lives. 

From my family to yours, happy Diwali — may the festival of love and light continue to break through barriers, illuminate our spirits and awaken our spiritual light within us.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Julie Rajkumar is a wife, a mother of two, a forensic healing practitioner and the president of the Manitoba Hindu Dharmik Sabha Temple and Cultural Centre. For well over 30 years, Julie has coached, led, guided and managed people. She strongly believes in empowering others and helping them to stand in their own spiritual light, revealing their natural gifts, abilities, talents and knowledge.

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