Swami ji said…
The thought of any festival lights up our face with delightful smiles and joyous eyes. We are barely able to wait to celebrate it in our own special way. Such is our deep connection with festivals – that we consider them to exclusive, individualistic celebrations – because of which we often have our own ideas and suggestions about the way they should be celebrated. Elaborate planning, preparation and purchasing for the festival begin well in advance. Every little detail is looked into. Inputs are taken from here and there and additions are made at the last minute too. A ritual which perhaps had not been performed by us in the past – is incorporated anew – with a lot of faith and devotion. The list of ‘to – do’ is rechecked to ensure that nothing has been left out by us.
The excitement and elation are palpable, infectious – during the days preceding the actual day of the festival – as each one of us is determined to put in everything – in lighting up our homes or decorating the Christmas tree; bedecking the Goddess with beautiful attire and jewellery on Dussehra or depicting the birth of Jesus Christ with figurines on Christmas ; laying out the most delicious, traditional feast ever on the dining table – and dressing up in expensive and stylish clothes – as we want to look our best – thereby further enhancing the flavour and fragrance of the festival.
The ‘external’ part of the festival is taken care of with a sense of complete involvement. At times, we might even go overboard while spending money on celebrating the festival – aware that its presentation is subject – to the eagle eye of numerous onlookers. But , do we for a moment focus on the essence; the reason for the celebration? Do we reflect on the most vital aspect of the festival ? The message underlying the celebration of the festival. What exactly are we celebrating? Isn’t there more to a festival than only enjoying the flavour of the mouth-watering dishes that are cooked by us , exchanging gifts and wearing new clothes ?
Do we recall the countless sacrifices that were made by all these great, noble souls – whether they were founders of new religions or vanquishers of evil – as they had taken blood-soaked steps – to accomplish the formidable task ; to achieve the goal that destiny had in mind for them? Can we imagine even for a second the bitter hardships; the pain that they must have endured at leaving their families and the comfort of their homes – understand the sense of fear that must have pervaded them at the thought of the obstacles that lay ahead of them ? Are we able to relate with even a fraction of the self – restraint that they must have had to impose on themselves as they moved ahead – undaunted – without turning back to look at what they were leaving behind?
Many of them freed themselves from the ‘powerful’ grip that their ‘senses’ had on them and in fact ‘overpowered’ them with their mental strength – as suffering and endurance – had become their new friends.There was nothing that they would complain about. They were in an eternal state of happiness. Do we stand anywhere close to these luminous souls? Rather, we are victims of our senses – always clamouring for everything in excess. Our happiness is dependent on others and material possessions.
The message of peace that was always stressed upon by God – seems to have been forgotten by man completely as today, many a times, he finds it difficult to live peacefully with his immediate family members. So selfish have we become – that, today, our ‘greed’ dominates over our needs. A filled wallet refuses to part with money – even to help the weak and helpless. We, as human beings, are not only losing faith in each other, but, even in God. We need to remember that it is only our devotion and faith in God that shows us light in the darkest of days – much like the bright light of the lit up lamps and lights on festivals – that light up a dark night.