Friday, October 20, 2006

दिवाली मुबारक और नूतनवर्षाभिनदंन

The year turns ... and it's time for Diwali again! Sweets (tons of 'em), fireworks! Lamps and lights and a riot of colors!

Well, at least if one is in India (and perhaps Edison, NJ ... :-) Or "Diwan Sreet" in Chicago. Or Jackson Heights, NY)

So, in the sequence of things:
  • Yesterday was "Dhan Teras" ("Wealth 13th") where devout Hindus worship the goddess of wealth, Laxmi.
  • Today is "Kali Chaudas" ("Kali/Dark 14th"). I guess some worship of Kali might be involved ... but I don't recall anything of that nature.
  • Tomorrow is Diwali, the festival of lights, the day the triumphant Ram entered Ayodhya after a fourteen-year exile, having defeated the power of evil.
  • Sunday is a "khado" -- a hole -- in the lunar calendar, a filler day, with no date.
  • Monday is "Bestu Varas" -- the New Year for many Hindus.
  • Tuesday is "Bhai Beej" ("Brother Second") -- a day for sisters to honor their brothers.

And Wednesday ... like last year ... is Eid-ul-Fitr, the end of the thirty days of Ramzaan (to use the Indian spelling). Whenever there is a confluence of major Hindu and Muslim holidays, one always worries about sectarian violence. Let it not be so, and let both communities celebrate in peace!

Here's what I put up last year for Diwali.

This year's message from the Holy See to Hindus:
2. The reality of love is closely connected to truth, light, goodness and life. I would like to reflect on this theme of love, through which believers of different religions are invited to overcome the evil of hatred and distrust in contemporary society. The recent terrorist bomb attacks in Mumbai, India, are yet another example of these phenomena which so often end in brutal violence. I am sure that, enriched in the light of our particular religious traditions, our resolve to invite all believers to overcome hatred by love will benefit society at large. My own reflection is inspired by the first Encyclical letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est (God is Love). The Pope wrote this letter, convinced that his message is both timely and significant “in a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence ” (n. 1).
5. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI ends his letter, Deus caritas est, with the following words: “Love is the light – and in the end, the only light – that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working” (n. 39). The Pope’s words obviously refer to Jesus Christ who is the Light of the world. However, these words can also draw your attention since for you the meaning of your feast, Diwali, is symbolized by light. May our love finally overcome the darkness of hatred in the world! Happy Diwali to you, my dear Hindu friends!
Diwali Mubarak! Nutanvarshabhinandan!


assiniboine said...

Does it ever occur to you -- possibly not, since you can read it -- that the Devanāgarī script looks for all the world like bats hanging from a telephone line? I gather this is not an original insight, given that a Bengali acquaintance tells me that Bengali script looks like the bats without the telephone line.

I am so glad that you retain your kind feelings towards your erstwhile co-religionists. Most of the Indians I know are Christian (and a few of them Muslim) and they are prodigiously intolerant of "all that Hindu guff."

I do wonder at times why, since they are so unfavourably disposed towards what they seem to regard as the Dark Side, they name their children Siva and Raj and Vanita and Sangita. Hedging their bets? Oh well, perhaps it's like Colin and Morag and Ewen and Seonaid with us: except our great grandparents abandoned such names when they learned English, and it's only we who don't "have the Gaelic," as they say (I'm doing well to know that it's GAAlic, not GAYlic), who now confer these ethnic names on our children.

Clever Indians: they skip over that step.

Gashwin said...

Hmm, I'd never thought that about Devnagiri ... as you said, I can read it. :)

I never thought of my journey to Christianity as a repudiation of Hinduism in general. Besides, my whole family is Hindu ... :-)

The "Hindu" names of Christian children was a phenomenon (in India itself at least) in the wake of the Council, trying to "inculturate" and so on. My Catholic friends who are having children now are in full retreat (it would seem. This is just anecdotal.) given some of the names they've given their kids: Shawn, Conan, Wayne.

Georgette said...

Belated happy Diwali, Gashwin!!

assiniboine, I had a Hindi professor in the US who used to describe the devangiri script as hangers hanging on a clothes line. Kinda like what you said, lol.

God bless!