SKIN, perhaps we spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about it- Hair, tendons, muscles, blood vessels, teeth, internal organs, two gelatinous orbs in the middle of our faces connecting our brains to the universe. Beyond our fleshy capsule – more than biology can explain; some will call it electrochemical impulses others will insist it is the soul. Maybe it’s none, perhaps it’s a marriage of the two- what it is defies explanation; it can’t be measured or quantified by dissecting.
Ethereal light! That’s its nature. We are creatures of light; a powerful stellar furnace controls the weather patterns on the planet, it influences our biological cycles. In ancient campfires stories were told heroes defeating evil light casting out darkness. We have denied darkness and all-encompassing presence; large cities went from torch and candlelight to eternal beacons that can be seen even from space.
As a child light was a nighttime companion. Under the covers alongside my plastic soldiers we conquered worlds untold – tucked under my pillow my flashlight was a sword should I need it to battle imaginary creepy crawlers.
Light can banish ignorance
In desperate times I think of what Leonard Cohen wrote, “There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in.”
Light is more than just what our eyes perceive, it is poetry:
“I got lost in the night, without the light
of your eyelids, and when the night surrounded me
I was born again: I was the owner of my own darkness.”
― Pablo Neruda
light is metaphor:
“And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
― Anonymous, Holy Bible: King James Version
light is philosophy:
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
light is truth:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
Why talk about light when celebrating Diwali?
“The meanings of Diwali, its symbols and rituals, and the reasons for celebration are innumerable. Diwali celebrates Lord Rama’s glorious and long-awaited return to his Kingdom of Ayodhya after his fourteen long years of exile in the forests. It commemorates Lord Krishna’s victory over the demon Narakaasura who had kidnapped and terrorized the gopis of Vrindavan. When the evil Naraka was finally killed by Bhagwan Krishna and Satyabhaama, he begged pitifully for mercy; thus, upon his entreaties, it was declared that this day of his death would be celebrated with great joy and festivity. It is also celebrated as the day Bhagwan Vishnu married Maha Lakshmi.
Diwali is also associated with the story of the fall of Bali – a demon king who was conquered by Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu appeared to the demon king Bali in the form of a dwarf and requested only three steps of land. The evil and egotistic Bali granted the drawf’s meager request of only three feet. Suddenly, Lord Vishnu took on His grand size and placed one foot on the Earth, another on the Heavens and His third on the head of the evil Bali.
In general, Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil, of righteousness over treachery, of truth over falsehood, and of light over darkness.”