As I looked outside my hotel window into the horizon on the eve of Diwali, a million lights glimmered at me and made me wonder about the power of precious light and the hope that it brings along with it. They say that one must know the darkness before you can really appreciate the light. There were several instances in the last ten months when everything around seemed completely bleak and dim. However, I realized over time that wherever my story takes me, however dark and difficult the theme, there is always some hope because I’m an optimist at heart and there is always always light at the end of a menacing dark night!
The most famous and brightest festival in India, Diwali, also popularly known as the “Festival of Lights” reaffirms the same and celebrates the victory of light over darkness, goodness over evil and hope for the future. As per the Hindi mythology, it is associated with the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom, after his 14 years of exile and victory over the demon Ravana. On that day, he was welcomed to the kingdom of Ayodhya with rows of earthen lamps, lightened throughout the kingdom.
To me, it has always symbolized five days of non-stop family time, delicious sweets, flamboyant decorations, glimmering lights, fiery crackers, traditional clothes and lots and lots of celebrations with the excitement building up weeks and months in advance. For the first time in last 33 years, I was not at home for Diwali and realized the importance of times I would take so much for granted ? I was in Abu Dhabi finishing the last bits of our International Consulting Project as the rest of my classmates are doing all over the world.
We are a group of 19 Indians in the IMD batch of 2018 and as the biggest Indian festival, Diwali holds a different meaning and importance for each one of us. To Kshitij, Diwali signifies hope and confidence, the victory of good over evil and of course teen patti (popular Indian Card game) and firecrackers. Shubham, who moved to Berlin five years ago, feels that the day of Diwali has a profound effect on him and even when he is physically away from home, no other day of the year reminds him of his roots as much as Diwali does. He also says that “Diwali fills my heart with joy, like no other day in the year. It reminds me of all the little things that make it special – the childhood memories, things leading up to it, the morning rituals with family, the evening fun with friends, lights, colors, sounds.” For my lovely friend Sakshi, “Diwali has been the most special festival with family time, fun time, Indian sweets, especially the amazing lights”.
And while we all have our own special connotation attached to this festival, Ashish summarizes Diwali through the following Sanskrit quote,“असतो मा साद गमय, तमसो मा ज्योतिर् गमय, मृत्योर मा अमृतम् गमय” (From untruth, lead us to Truth, from darkness, lead us to Light, from death, lead us to Immortality).
Some Pictures from our pre -Diwali Indian Bash in Lausanne
End of ICP celebration and Diwali lunch with my lovely ICP team:
Till next time,