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.