Diwali is celebrated for various cultural reasons, but historically, it is called “Naraka Chaturdashi” because Narakasura, a very cruel king, was killed by Krishna on this day. Because of that, this celebration happened in such a big way. Evil need not necessarily come in the form of demons. Desperation, depression and frustration can cause much more damage to one’s life than the demons that you have not seen. Diwali is a reminder to slay all that is negative in our life.
The celebration is auspicious in so many different ways. On this day, it is said that if someone needs money, Lakshmi will come in. If someone wants health, Shakti will come in. If someone wants knowledge, Saraswati will come in. These are dialectical ways of expressing that it will lead to wellbeing.
In Indian culture, there was a time when there used to be a festival every day of the year – 365 festivals in a year – because a festival is a tool to bring life to a state of exuberance and enthusiasm. Today, people usually celebrate only around eight or ten festivals annually because we have to go to the office or do something else daily. Unfortunately, festivals nowadays mean you are given holiday at work, and you wake up only at noon. Then you eat a lot and go for a movie or watch television at home. It was not like that earlier. A festival meant the whole town would gather and there would be a big celebration.
To bring back this culture in people, Isha celebrates four important festivals: Pongal or Makarasankranti, Mahashivarathri, Dussehra and Guru Purnima. If we don’t create this, by the time the next generation comes, they will not know what a festival is. They will just eat, sleep and grow up without concern for another human being. All these aspects were brought into Indian culture just to keep a man active and enthusiastic in so many ways. The idea behind this was to make our whole life into a celebration.
If you approach everything in a celebratory way, you learn to be non-serious about life, but absolutely involved. The problem with most human beings right now is, if they think something is important, they will become dead serious about it. If they think it is not so important, they will become lax about it – they don’t show the necessary involvement. In India, when someone says, “He is serious,” that means his next step is you know where. A lot of people are in a serious condition. There is only one thing that is going to happen to them which is of any significance. The rest will bypass them because with anything that they think is not serious, they are unable to show involvement and dedication. That is the whole problem. The passage, the secret of life is to see everything with a non-serious eye, but to be absolutely involved – like a game. That is the reason the most profound aspects of life are approached in a celebratory way, so that you don’t miss the point.
The idea of Diwali is to bring that aspect of celebration into your life – that is why the fire crackers, to set fire to you a bit! The purpose is not just to have fun on this one day and go. If you are a damp squib, then you need a cracker from outside every day. Otherwise, it must happen like this within us every day. If we simply sit, our life energy, heart, mind and body must be exploding like a live cracker.