Victory over darkness

By  Nisheeta Menon, Youth Speak News
  • October 25, 2007

Hindus, Sikhs and Jains in India and worldwide will celebrate Deepavali or Diwali on Nov. 9. This auspicious day known as “the festival of light” has a different significance for each faith tradition and geographical area in which it is celebrated, but the commonality that binds all Diwali celebrations is the theme of light.

{sidebar id=1} Coming from a multi-faith family and community in India, I was fortunate to take part in Diwali celebrations when I lived in Bombay. However, I was very young when I left India for Canada, so most memories are blurred and disjointed. Though I do not remember much of what Diwali looked like, what I do remember is how I felt as the festival day drew near. Namely, I remember with vivid clarity the pure joy, excitement and anticipation of waiting for… the fireworks!

For all the religious and cultural significance that Diwali holds, fireworks hardly seem to be the most interesting and exciting element of this great celebration. But often, victories of mythical characters or battles fought by ancient rulers do not mean much to a child. And so it was with me, who waited all day, through all the feasting and colourful celebrations until the sky grew just dark enough and that faint burst of the first cracker was finally heard over the rooftops of Bombay.

Upon writing this reflection, I asked myself why I remembered the fireworks most of all about Diwali. Just as many find the “glitz and glamour” of Christmas to distract from the true meaning of the holiday, I wondered if the same phenomenon might be occurring here.

But it seems there are more to fireworks than that. Diwali is always celebrated on the night of the new moon, so that as the sun sets, the sky is at its darkest. It is at that precise moment, when the first firecracker pierces the night sky, that revellers witness the victory of light over darkness. So we must wait with great anticipation for the world to be at its darkest, before allowing ourselves to be consumed by light.

This image calls to mind numerous Scripture passages and reminds us of the significance of the death and resurrection of Christ who is our saving light.

Though I am not a Hindu, the celebration of Diwali was an experience I was able to share with my family, neighbours and friends — even at an age when I was too young to understand its full significance. Yet, I can’t help but think that in some way, even the youngest children who are captivated by the spectacle of fireworks understand something of the true meaning of Diwali.

Together with all faiths, humanity is constantly striving towards the victory of light over darkness, life over death and love over hatred. This struggle is manifested in the stories and traditions which mark religious celebrations for adults, and in more simple, symbolic gestures which capture the minds of children.

Therefore, on the occasion of Diwali, let us wish our Hindu, Sikh and Jain brothers and sisters a happy festival of light, and let us remember as Christians, the light of Christ who forever conquered darkness through His life, death and resurrection.

(Menon, 20, studies Christianity and Culture at the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto.)

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.