As the festival of lights begins this year, India has never been more optimistic and upbeat about its future. The economy is going great guns, the markets are booming and India Inc. is ‘happening’ across the world. With incomes on the rise, people are in the mood to spend, spend, spend, as our Finance Minister famously exhorted us to some years ago. But while the spending is on material things, it is Diwali’s spirit that differentiates this from conspicuous consumption. For the buyer does not acquire only for himself but for his peers and for the less fortunate. Perhaps, keeping in mind the Biblical edict, ‘give and ye shall receive’.
What sets Diwali apart from other festivals is that it transcends religion. True, its origin lies in Hinduism. When Lord Ram and Sita returned to Ayodhya after defeating the demon king Ravana, the ancient city’s residents lit small diyas to welcome their Lord back. On this day, Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, too, appeared as a result of the Samudra Manthan of the demons and devatas. In a day and age, where religious sentiments are being exploited by vested interests to create divisions among communities, Diwali acts as a great binding factor as all Indians come together to celebrate the passage of darkness into light.
This year, spending is at an all-time high. Thrift is given short shrift today. Over the years, if anything, Diwali has become all the more enjoyable as people have begun to be more respectful of each other’s space and comfort. So, you no longer find people bursting crackers to the discomfiture of fellow citizens. The strict rules laid down about decibel levels too are being observed more today. A politically-correct younger generation is at pains to ensure that the crackers and phool jaris they buy are not made with child labour. On this day of joy and hope, we wish all our readers a happy and safe Diwali. We leave you with a quote from the Bhagwad Gita that embodies the spirit of the festival of lights. “The light that comes from the sun illumines the whole world, and that which is in the moon and in the fire, know that light to be mine.”