Posts Tagged ‘Diwali’

More Prayer’s For The Day, BBC Radio 4, Broadcast over a week in October 2009. It is a nice slot and an opportunity for me to meditate on life and on connecting it with Krishna, as well as practising writing.

Today is the festival of Diwali, an Indian religious festival that has become famous in this country as the Hindu festival, although it is a special day for other traditions as well.

Originally, it is said, this festival was a vaishya festival, a religious celebration for the merchant, banking, and farming communities. Thus the emphasis on the worship of Laxmi,  the Goddess of Wealth, and the end of the accounting year for so many businesses.  The generosity of the vaishya community is also shown at this time by generous gifts of gold and jewellery, especially to the female members of the family.

But Diwali now has significance in many communities and cultures, not only in India, but around the world.  Last week, Diwali was magnificently celebrated in Trafalgar Square in London.  It has also been a traffic stopper in other parts of London, and in Leicester, and Birmingham.

Only a few years ago we had the first Diwali celebration in the House of Commons.  Now the main political parties are hosting their own vote-winning Diwali events – a few years being a long time in politics.

While I get invited to all of these events, I can still discern, in the mists of memory, a festival that drew family together as no other.  It was a time to spend at home, to think of God, to think of good, to give and receive gifts, and to massage family relationships.

As the Hindu community integrates more in Britain the nature of the Diwali Festival has changed.  It is bigger, bolder, and brighter, but I pray that as we celebrate we will remember to think of God, to commit to goodness in our lives, and to earn the respect of our family. Hare Krishna.

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Prayer 5 – Example

I think we can all admit, at least to ourselves, in the privacy of our own homes, with the doors closed and the windows barred, that sometimes we can be a bit selfish. Or is that just me?

Anyway, one advantage of the present financial crisis has been the wonderful scapegoat of the financial ‘fat cats’. They make my selfish moments seem like episodes from a Disney film.

It’s a real mess, speculation and gossip, predictions of gloom, with every man, institution, and country for himself. Not very inspiring, and the realisation has dawned on me that with the same temptation as the ‘fat cats’, with my inclinations to enjoy, I may adopt the same short term and self-centred vision that got us into this mess.

Well then, this final day of the Hindu festival of Dwali would seem to be a good time to mention the example of Lord Rama. Rama was a prince, who, for the sake of peace, his Father’s honour, and for his people, accepted fourteen years of exile to the forest. He accepted sacrificing his comfort for others without reservation. Rama didn’t line his pockets but emptied them. Lord Rama did this specifically to give us an excellent example of leadership – and we are all called to give good example to others, to be leaders.

It’s the example we need to keep striving to do the right thing, to bring out our good.

Dear Lord Rama, I sometimes envy those who have more than I do, but, by your grace, I will accept less to give more to those who have less than I have. Thank you for your example. Hare Krishna.

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Prayer 3 – Diwali

All over the UK today Hindus are celebrating the festival day of Diwali. Diwali is perhaps the most well known of all Hindu religious festivals, as it, uniquely, has special significance for almost all of India’s many religious traditions.

Hindus will visit temples today; they will spend much time preparing food and sweets; presents are exchanged among family members; and displays of fireworks will end the celebrations.

The Sanskrit word Diwali refers to a cluster of lights, and one of the most popular stories associated with Diwali is the journey of Lord Rama from Lanka to his kingdom of Ayodhya, in Northern India. The journey began in the evening and Rama’s subjects lit the way by placing rows of lamps in their windows to guide Him.

Rama was returning home after winning an epic battle which symbolised the victory of goodness over selfishness and conceit, of light over darkness. Rama returned to His coronation and a rule typified by truthfulness, justice, service, and devotion – thus the endurance of His story.

Rama, as the embodiment of morality and right-living, is attractive to everyone who aspires to be good. We all need inspiration in our struggle to make wise and proper decisions. Diwali serves as a nurturing mother to our good desires and aspirations.

This evening, in homes all over the country, candles will be lit to guide Rama on his way – to usher in a new beginning, a new year and a new commitment to the principles of goodness.

Dear Lord Rama, during this year please guide me through the fog of my passions, and the demands of events. Help me to see the right thing to do, and help me to do it right. Hare Krishna

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Yesterday the five-day festival of Diwali began with the worship of Laxmi, the Goddess of Fortune, the custodian of wealth and prosperity – and in our present uncertain financial climate Laxmi may find many worshiping at her altar.

At this time many Hindus will ritually wash coins, symbolising their wealth, and offer it back to Laxmi, to purify their use of her boon, and to attract more. It is a commitment to become good custodians of our acquired wealth.

Any banker will tell you that money makes the world go around – but who listens to bankers anymore. Our gurus, the Beatles, have advised that money can’t buy us love – and still we want it, loads of money. We hope for it, pray for it, and work for it.

While promoting the worship of Laxmi, Hindu texts caution that wealth can degrade us. If we want it we can have it, but there is a price. When we get it, sages suggest, we become more susceptible to pride and greed. Our peace of mind evaporates as we now have more to worry about; and our ability to trust is compromised as we can’t tell who likes us and who just likes our money.

Importantly, Laxmi is unattached to wealth or prosperity of any kind, a fact which leads the capitalist in me to ask, “If, Laxmi, the Goddess of Fortune has no interest in money, what does she have that is more valuable”? Well, Laxmi is totally in love with the Main Man, the Supreme Lord Himself, Vishnu. She considers love of God to be the most valuable gift.

Dear Laxmi Devi, please help me achieve real prosperity by introducing me to the All Attractive Person, your Love. Your words of introduction will be more valuable than gold. Hare Krishna.

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Good morning. Today is the celebration of Govardhana Puja, or Anakut. It is another festival associated with Diwali, the fourth day of celebration. This day is also the beginning of the New Year for many Hindus, including the new financial year for businesses.

In temples around the country mountains of sweets are prepared as an offering to Lord Krishna. When I say mountains I do mean mountains. The temple priests are trying to replicate Govardhan Hill, the scene of a well-known tale about Krishna and Indra, the King of Heaven.

Indra was very proud of the fact that the residents of Govardhan Hill offered him homage every year. One year Krishna convinced everyone to neglect Indra’s worship. Indra was furious and invoked devastating storms on the area. Krishna, a mere child, with the little finger of His left hand lifted Govardhan Hill so the inhabitants could shelter. Thus Krishna protected His devotees and curbed Indra’s pride. The story ends with Indra accepting his humiliation graciously and worshipping Krishna.

The temple priests are inviting us to remember this story today, not because we are the hero Krishna, but because we are the character represented by the puffed-up Indra.  Indra was not a bad chap. But in the face of someone greater than himself he should have been respectful and humble. Being the King of heaven he did have something to be puffed-up about – but, it blinded him to the truth.

I don’t have much to be proud about but I still remind everyone of my glories – blinding me to my truth.

Dear Lord Krishna, as you diminished Indra’s pride please also erode my mountain of pride and allow me accept my humility with grace and with affection for you. Hare Krishna.

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