Guest Column: Diwali “Festival of Lights” explained

Dr. Christopher Joshua

Dr. Christopher Joshua

I am a university professor from India who has lived in the United States for the past 5 years. Many of my American friends who are really very inquisitive have asked me about the festival Diwali in Indian culture, and what does it mean.

Diwali, or “festival of lights” is one of the most important festivals of the year in India, and is celebrated with great joy and jubilation. People celebrate with lights, fireworks, exchange a variety of foods, with sweets from door to door to show their love to their neighbors. Diwali also marks the end of the harvest season in most of India. It is a festival celebrated predominantly by Hindus, but in recent years non-Hindus and other people irrespective of religion have started celebrating this festival. Some do know the real meaning the festival and some do not, but still they celebrate this event in order to join with others.

Though I am a Christian and I follow Christianity I would like to bring this great theme to the community as I represent the Indian culture. I still remember my grandmother saying to me when I was very small boy that “an evil was conquered by good that day.” That is why we celebrate the Diwali festival. Much evil still persists even today in the mankind without regard to how a person worships, or even whether or not they have any faith. This evil comes in the form of violence, terrorism, domestic violence, crime, shootings, drugs and alcohol, abuse, broken relationships in the family and among friends, discrimination, and many other factors.

The reason for these incidents is people decide to do evil through negative thoughts that, over time, makes a person to so these things. So eliminating evil thoughts in the mind can prevent such happenings. In the behavioral sciences we say that thinking gives a strong basis for a person’s actions. As an Indian community our hearts are heavy when we see people kill each other and violence take place.

We represent a country with diversity of culture, language and religion but yet we strongly believe the philosophy of unity in diversity. We still remember the great man of India and father of our nation Mahathma Gandhi, who gave us a great value of non-violence to our community. So theme of this festival is giving light to the community. Let the festival of light drive the darkness away so as the sweet takes the bitterness away from the people. Let the theme of Diwali bring peace to the community. Remember that no weapon is required to kill some evils.

Happy Diwai.

Dr. Christopher Joshua has taught behavioral sciences in universities India. He currently lives in Jonesboro.