Deepavali/Diwali is the MOST CELEBRATED of all the Indian festivals. The reasons are manifold. But to narrate the happenings on the Deepavali/Diwali days in Bangalore reflects the concept of multi-culturalism gaining momentum in INDIA at the most grassroots level.
Deepavali is celebrated in the SOUTHERN PART of India (I personally hate the expression SOUTH INDIA, as it is redolent of a great political schism like in South Korea/North Korea, West Pakistan/East Pakistan etc.) on the 14th day of the month of Karthikai, and consequently falls a day before the day Diwali celebrated in the NORTHERN INDIA, which happens to be on the no-moon day, of the same month Kritika. The reasons for the celebrations of the same festival on two different days calls for serious research, and this blog is no place for it, i reckon.
The Hindus, as i understand it celebrate it as the day for welcoming the return of Lord Rama after the rescue of Sita. Another for welcoming the Goddess Lakshmi into the believers’ homes for prosperity- the business community’s celebrations are in consonance with this. There are many more beliefs and traditions/practices for Deepavali/Diwali celebrations by the Hindus.
The Sikhs are stated to be celebrating Diwali as the day of return of their sixth Guru after, his incarceration by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir.
The Jains celebrate it the day on which Lord Mahavira had attained NIRVANA.
This congruence of the day of celebrations of DEEPAVALI/DIWALI by 3 different Religions on the same day, and also celebrations on different days- by persons of different regions of the same country, have led to the secular colour of this festival.
At Koramangala in BANGALORE is a Township by name NATIONAL GAMES VILLAGE. It is mostly home to a drifting population of Yuppies, Government officers, Judicial Officers of the state of Karnataka and other persons who desire a peaceful, non-commercial neighborhood. There are many flats which have been converted into Private Guest Houses and houses for Paying Guest accommodation. Consequently, the residents are without roots and without the baggage of the sons of the soil concept.
It is in this Games Village at Bangalore that i celebrated this Deepavali/Diwali. It was truly multi-cultural. The business communities from Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of Maharashtra celebrated it on the 28th oct, 2008 along with the Indians from other Northern parts. The southerners (well sounds like the ones who went under the banner of Thomas Jefferson’s confederates!) celebrated it on the 27th oct..
The CELEBRATIONS WERE OBVIOUS TO EVERYONE IN THE NATIONAL GAMES VILLAGE AS THE BURSTING OF THE CRACKERS AND LIGHT-WORKS WENT OFF ON THE INTERVENING NIGHT OF 27TH-28TH AND 27TH-29TH. I MUST SAY THAT THE NORTHERNERS’ BURSTING WAS HEAVIER, BUT THE SOUTHERNERS’ LIGHTS WERE MORE BRILLIANT.
I also had the privilege of attending the church service on the 26th Oct., 2008 at ST.MARK’S CATHEDRAL, no.1 M G Road, Bangalore. The service was at 10.30AM. In the prayers, the priest prayed for the HINDU brothers celebrating Deepavali/Diwali that week. I have been attending many church services both in the Northern and Southern parts of India, but it was the FIRST TIME that i’d seen such prayers being made in a church.
All in all, what is HEARTENING and ELEVATING is that a brotherhood among INDIANS is gaining momentum, by not being merely TOLERANT but participating in CELEBRATIONS of other communities and it is what i’d like to call the DYNAMIC TOLERANCE OF INDIAN ATTITUDE (tolerant had a negative connotation of putting up with, but this collective positive expression has given a positive inflexion to TOLERANCE). I hope that this gains momentum and makes us, Indians, dynamic in our endeavours and does not hold us up within the NARROW DOMESTIC WALLS.