The flickers of Diwali lamps

Let the lamps remain different

This is the seventh Diwali of mine in succession without any Diwali lamps anywhere in the neighbourhood. I live in a region of India where Diwali is not celebrated. Like most villages in Kerala, mine too does not celebrate Diwali though half its population is Hindu. This indifference to Diwali doesn’t signify anything more than the cultural diversity of India. Even the Hinduism in this country has more shades than the advocates of a monolithic Hindutva are ready to acknowledge.

One of the most beautiful aspects of India is its cultural diversity. The North-east is nothing like any other part of the country. Their foods, dresses, languages, and even physical appearances are an amazing contrast to those in the other parts of the country. The differences in the other parts (such as between north and south) may not be so highly accentuated but they are far too many to be accommodated comfortably in any system or ideology that ventures to homogenize them.

The cities in Kerala, however, celebrate Diwali on grand scales. That is because of the presence of people from the North in large numbers. It is not the Malayalis who celebrate the festival, in other words.

Should the North impose Diwali on all Indians just as they are going out of their way to impose Hindi?

According to a recent study, 305 attacks took place in India on Christians alone (leaving aside the countless assaults on the major enemies of Hindutva advocates) in 273 days in India. These attacks are all a part of a comprehensive strategy to impose one particular culture with its language and religion on entire India.

What is happening in India under Modi is a huge and cruel farce. Modi will be hugging the Pope in the Vatican while his supporters are attacking the Pope’s institutions in India. This is quite typical of what has happened in many parts of India earlier in history too.

For example, a group of people who came to be known as Namboothiris entered Kerala from the North sometime between the first and fourth centuries CE and soon became the lords of the entire region by employing strategies very similar to those wielded by the Modi-Shah duo today. Though these Namboothiris constituted less than one percent of Kerala’s population, they became the owners of most of the land and remained so until the 18th century by manipulating the political powers with the help of religion. Something similar is happening today in India. The only difference is that the corporate bigwigs are doing in India what the Namboothiris did in Kerala.

By the second half of 19th century, the Namboothiris in Kerala had become a totally degenerate people. Greed and lust had corroded their very souls.

Do I see the flicker of similar greed and lust (more for power now though the Namboothiris lusted after women as much as power) in the Diwali lamps nowadays? If the Festival of Lights can bring some enlightenment to our leaders, there is hope for a better India. I’d like to hope that this Diwali will bring some light at least to the people whose hearts are becoming increasingly darker.

Did someone tell me that Diwali is about the victory of the good over the evil? Well, wish you a Happy Diwali. 

PS. This is not meant to hurt anyone’s sentiments especially on the occasion of a festival. I lived in the North and Northeast for most part of my life as an adult and Diwali celebrations were very much a part of my life. Do I miss them? This post is an answer to that question. To myself more than to anyone else.


  1. Hari OM
    Deepavali is very much part of Tamil and Karnatakan traditions... and as Chinmaya Mission is essentially Keralite and Deepavali is a major celebration for us, I am surprised to read that you think it otherwise. The focus in the South is more the second of the five days, whilst the North favours the third day - the difference being the focus in the first is more spiritual, while the second is more earthly. Of course, like so many events (and I include Christmas!) commercialism has over-ridden the spiritual almost to the point of folk entirely ignoring the source of the festivals. Generalisation, of course, as many do still adhere.

    I do understand something of your aversion, though. When I saw how so many people were prepared to light up entire neighbourhoods with flashy lighting and bigger and better each year (as folk here do with Christmas lights) it makes a mockery of the original intent of lighting the diyas. I agree that imposition of celebration makes no celebration at all - imposition of 'faith' is an invasion. I too wish the leaders of India, and Australia and UK ... and many other nations could see the light! YAM xx

    1. This morning I went to the Jan Seva Kendra nearest to my home for an official work. The man, son of the local Hindu temple priest, had opened the office as usual as I had expected. Diwali made no difference to him though he told me that only the online part of the work would be done today since all Central govt offices would be closed. I said I only wanted to get the online part done today.

      That's how Diwali looks like in my village and all the villages near me and most probably all over Kerala. There are changes taking place because of the increasing influence of the BJP and right wing organisations in the state too.

      Swami Chinmayananda was after all a co-founder or inspirer of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and it's no surprise that his institutions celebrate Diwali. Awakening the "Hindu consciousness" was one of the proclaimed objectives of Chinmayananda - very much in tune with the Hindutva ideology. I have no association with the cult except that a few of my acquaintance have been teachers in its schools for brief periods. They were all invariably happy to leave the jobs because they felt out of place there due to the way religion was taught and practised there.

    2. Hari OM
      ...and there is a reason I did not take the robes, despite having completed all relevant study and qualification.

      I do take exception to the calling of CM as a cult - it is not that, any more than the Roman Catholic church is a cult. It is, however, just as RC can be, or any other such institution, prone to the fundamentalist outlook.

      Though, in truth, Gurudev himself never advocated such. He very much allowed for pluralism in faith. However, his point was that if one was to claim to be Hindu, then it is necessary to behave as one and have the relevant knowledge to support it. This would apply, again, to any faith system. There are many 'mouth Christians' just as there are 'mouth Hindus'. Practice and application is another thing altogether.

      And, as your grind is, the imposition and insistance that any one system is the only one, or that any other is by that deficit 'wrong' is the basis of all unrest in such matters. To deny any the practice of their faith, whatever that be, on the basis that it does not fit with one's own beliefs, whatever they be, is a grave error of intellect and spirit. YAM xx

  2. Fragmentation is a clinically practised strategy of the Sanghparivar.

    1. Undoubtedly. And they will do it holding aloft a flag with the inscription 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam'.

  3. India is not a monolith of one single civilisation... but a mosaic and confluence of civilization(s).... breathing the mystical air of pluralism for more than millennia. Let there be a thousand Ramayana, and as many Mahabharathas. Let Ravana, as well as Rama be celebrated. “ There are many lamps... but One Light..” - Rumi


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