Today is the last day of the Diwali festival and the beginning of a new year. It is a time to make a fresh start in life, to be generous, and to consider how to act with as much goodness as possible.
I must admit that, aside from the religious side of festivals – striving to be a good chap and all – I think religious festivals are really great, whatever the tradition. But Hindu festivals take the biscuit for me.
Whether it’s the profusion of colours, brilliant and bright; the cacophony of music and chanting, laughter, alter bells ringing, and ankle bells tinkling; the smells of spices, food, and incense; the touch of flowers and garlands, of hugs, and rich dress; it’s a tasty dish, light, filling and healthy.
For instance, a few weeks ago, we celebrated the Navratri Festival, nine nights of music and dance centred mainly around God in female form. Whole communities of grannies, aunties, parents, and the urban cool – our children, all dancing together for hours. They begin slowly in a Morris dancing mode but by the end of the evening it looks a bit more clubbing.
Just after Navratri we had Dushera where a giant effigy of the Demon king Ravana, who has just been killed by Lord Rama is burned to great jubilation. It signifies the hope that the dark Ravana inside us may also be destroyed by the goodness of Rama.
But, in August we had Janmastami, celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna, the mother of all festivals and probably the largest annual religious gathering in this country.
Thank you for these festivals Lord, the mothers of devotion, where we can remember you in all your variety, feel your presence, and have fun. Hare Krishna.