The Meaning of Diwali In a Pandemic

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One of the most epic and beautiful stories in Hindu mythology that I had the good fortune of listening to while I was growing up was about Lord Rama, Sita, and Lakshman. Written in the Ramayana around 5th Century BCE, this tale is one of the many stories behind a prominent festival called Diwali.  

Lord Rama, also known as the Prince of Ayodhya, was sent into exile with his beautiful wife Sita and his loyal brother Lakshman. They spent 14 years away from their people, homeland, and faced many exciting, intense, and devastating obstacles. One that sticks out the most to me is when Sita was captured by the evil Demon Ravana. Lord Rama in all his might went to save his gorgeous wife from the pits of evil. He does it with the help of my favorite character Lord Hanuman, also known as “the Monkey God.” They save Sita and bring peace to all the land. After 14 long years of evil swarming the land of Ayodhya, Lord Rama, Sita, and Lakshman return. However, there was one last obstacle to face on their way home.

The path guiding these mighty warriors' home was completely dark and not navigable with no moon to be seen. As a way to welcome and guide the Prince, his wife, and loyal brother home, the people of Ayodhya lit small candles known as diyas along the paths and houses. The light from these candles ushered the mighty Lord Rama, Sita, and Lakshman home. The hope of a great ruler and queen was on the horizon for the people of Ayodhya and their beloved prince had finally returned. Good finally triumphed over evil.

To commemorate this beautiful night in Hindu mythology, the whole country of India and other countries with this tradition light up their houses and streets with many diyas and other twinkling lights on November 14.  

Like the way peoples’ eyes light up on Christmas with the feeling of family in the air, Diwali brings the same amount of happiness and joy to us. On Diwali, it doesn’t matter that I live 8064 miles away from my homeland and the people that I love. Diwali will still warm my heart.

This pandemic has been like glooming darkness on each and every one of us. However, the hope that the story of Diwali brings to millions of people will never be forgotten. Good triumphs evil in our hearts and always will. It takes yourself, the help of others like Lord Hanuman, and people of Ayodhya to guide you through the dismal days so that the light of your life shines as bright as a diya on Diwali!

A lit diya outside of a house on Diwali in Mussourie, India (2016). A photograph by Vanalika Nagarwalla.

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