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Diwali Message from Sri Sri - 2010
Hearty Diwali greetings to all of you. Diwali is the festival of light. Light signifies wisdom. We need to globalize wisdom today. People of various cultures, religions and nationalities will have to come together and realize that we are a part of a One Human Family. Let us, on this auspicious occasion of Diwali, resolve to spread peace, to unite people in love and celebration and to bring prosperity in society. This is the occasion to let go of all past bickerings and misunderstandings and once again come together in a spirit of celebration.
All the best to everyone of you.
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Annam Brahm: Largest Food Festival
Gujarat, (Ahmedabad), Nov. 2, 2010: 5,600 vegetarian Indian items prepared by devotees from across Gujarat were presented at the ANNAM BRAHMA, a unique event of celebration and contribution on the auspicious occasion of Diwali by The Art of Living.
The event was an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for its vastness of variety and quantity offered at one platform. The food was shared with underprivileged children as Bal Bhoj and was prepared by devotees from Ahmedabad, Kalol, Surat, Dholka, Nadiad, Dahod, Kalol and Ankleshwar.
At the satsang that followed, devotees participated with much enthusiasm and devotion. Gracing the occasion, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said: “Food, tourism, clothing, music and dance, yoga and spirituality, Ayurveda and Information technology are the seven unique fields that India can showcase to the world.” Speaking about vegetarian food, Sri Sri said: “Even if 10 percent of the world’s population turned vegetarian, the problem of global warming can be considerably reduced.”
About 1 lakh people attended the event. Chief Minister Narendra Modi who was also present among other prominent dignitaries.
The food event was part of a string of events The Art of Living Foundation has organized in the past to foster and promote cultural heritage of India.
The Art of Living’s Silver Jubilee celebration at Bangalore (February 17th - 19th 2006) witnessed for the first in history India 3800 musicians from South India performing on one stage. Musicians played 782 violins, 770 veenas, 10 vichitra veenas, 60 tamburas, 10 mandolins, 138 nadaswarams, 750 flutes, 650 mridangams, 100 ghatams, 100 kanjiras, 138 tavils, 30 morsingas, 20 keyboards, 150 guitars and 92 saxophones enthralled all present with soul stirring symphonies.
In Cochin on November 26, 2006, 1,200 Mohiniattam dancers performed on one stage. The event entered the Guiness World Book of Records for a record breaking numbers of dancers together on one stage.
Brahmnaad (November 21, 2008), a unique sitar concert for World Peace had 1,094 sitarists together performing in Delhi for Bihar flood victims. The performers between 6 and 70 years of age, included visually challenged sitarists, child prodigies, young students from renowned schools of classical music, artistes from All India Radio, senior practitioners of this art. The event also entered the Guiness World Book of Records for the maximum number of Sitar exponents on one common stage.
Antarnaad, a mega singing symphony (January 12, 2010) had 2,750 Indian classical vocalists gathering to showcase a vast repertoire of Indian classical music. Celebrity singers like Shankar Mahadevan and renowned names like Pt Rajan & Sajan Misra were also part of this event. The symphony too entered the Guinness Book of Records for the largest ever Sing-Along Vande Matram where in over 1,00,000 people participated.
Mehra De Rang, a mega bhangra concert (November 11, 2010) in the series of Art of Living’s initiative will be an event that will enthrall the audience with largest number of Punjabi Bhangra dancers on one stage.
These events hosted by the organization have epitomized spirit of celebration, significance of music and revived the country’s cultural heritage amongst youth and people from all walks of life.
Diwali is lighting..
Diwali is lighting..
The lamp of love in one's heart
The lamp of abundance in one's home
The lamp of compassion to serve others
The lamp of Knowledge to dispel darkness
Every lamp that you light is symbolic of a good quality. There are good qualities in every human being. Some have forbearance, some have love, strength, generosity; others have the ability to accept all as one' own, yet others have a scientific temperament that will uplift humanity; and others have the ability to unite people from all religions. A latent talent is a lamp. When latent talents awaken, that is Diwali.
Don't be satisfied with simply lighting one lamp; light a thousand. Eg. If you are a good sevak, don't be satisfied only with that; light the lamp of wisdom in you. Acquire knowledge. If you are interested in acquiring knowledge, don't limit yourself only to that. Take an interest in the creative arts, in dance, music etc.
Do you know why we do aarti? It is so that light of our life always rotates around the Divine.
Do you know why we burst crackers? We suppress many emotions within ourselves; cravings, aversions, hatred or too much attachment and we reach bursting point. When there are a lot of worries, people say, "I feel my head is going to burst." If there is a lot of sorrow, people say, "My heart is going to burst."
Knowing this experience, the ancient people said that when you see an explosion outside, you feel similar sensations within you as well. Along with the explosion, there is so much light. Similarly by lighting the crackers, when there is an explosion outside, you release the suppressed emotions and become hollow and empty. You become free and are able to celebrate the festival and distribute sweets. The darkness is dispelled, light has come into the house, and joy spreads. This is a festival of joy.
It is said that for the fool, Diwali only comes once a year. But for the wise man, Diwali is every moment and every day. I would like you all to be wise and to celebrate Diwali every moment and every day of your life.
Diwali: The time to light lamps of wisdom
Originating from the Sanskrit word ‘Deepavali’, it literally means rows (Avali) of lights (Deepa). This festival of lights is celebrated on the darkest night (Amavasya) of the Kartik month in the Indian calendar, and it symbolizes the vanquishing of ignorance (darkness) by the knowledge (light).
Sri Sri explains the reason for playing with fireworks on Diwali. Whatever negativity – anger, jealousy or fear - has accumulated in your mind in the last one year should get dissolved in the form of all the crackers. With each cracker, burst any negativity you may have for any person, or at the most write the name of that person on the cracker and burst it, and just know that all ill feelings, jealousy etc, has got burnt. But what do we do? Instead of finishing the negativity, either we wish that person to get finished or burn ourselves in that fire of negativity. It should be the other way around. Thinking all the negativity or ill feelings have gone out with those crackers, become friendly with that person again. There is a feeling of lightness, love, peace and happiness, and then go and have sweets with that person and celebrate Diwali. This is only true Diwali, by bursting crackers burn the bad qualities of that person, not the person.
The festivities start from the 13th day of the fortnight of the waning moon.
On the first day of celebration, Dhantrayodashi houses and business premises are renovated and decorated. The entrances are made colourful with lovely traditional motifs of Rangoli designs to welcome the Goddess of wealth and prosperity (Lakshmi). To indicate her long awaited arrival, small footprints are drawn with rice flour and vermillion powder all over the house. Lamps are kept burning all through the nights. Believing this day to be auspicious, women purchase some gold or silver or some new utensils, and in some parts of India, cattle are also worshipped.
This day is considered to be the birthday of Dhanvantari – the God of Ayurveda or the Physician of Gods, and celebrated as Dhanvantari Jayanti. On this day, lamps are lit all night in reverence to the Lord Yama – the God of Death and hence also known as ‘Yamadeepdaan’. This is supposed to take away the fear of an untimely death.
On the second day, Narakachaturdashi there is a tradition to wake up early in the morning and have a bath before sunrise. The story goes that the demon king Narakasur - ruler of Pragjyotishpur (a province to the South of Nepal) – after defeating Lord Indra had snatched away the magnificent earrings of Aditi (the Mother Goddess) and imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of the Gods and saints in his harem. On the day previous to Narakachaturdashi, Lord Krishna killed the demon and liberated the imprisoned damsels and also recovered those precious earrings of Aditi. The womenfolk massaged scented oil to his body and gave him a good bath to wash away the filth from his body. Hence, this tradition of an early morning bath signifies the victory of the Divine over Evil. This day represents the heralding of a future full of goodness.
The most important day of the celebrations is the third day – Lakshmi Puja.This is the day when the sun enters its second course. This day is considered to be very auspicious, in spite of it being the darkest night. The impenetrable darkness of the night slowly disappears as small twinkling lamps light up entire cities. It is believed that Lakshmi walks on this planet on this night and showers blessings for abundance and prosperity. This evening people perform Lakshmi Puja and distribute homemade sweets to everyone.
On this very auspicious day, many saints and great people have taken Samadhi and left their mortal bodies. The great seers include Lord Krishna and Bhagwan Mahavir. This is also the very day when Lord Rama returned home with Sita and Lakshman after 14 years in exile.
One very interesting story about this Diwali day is from Kathopanishad of a small boy called Nachiketa who believed that Yama, the god of Death was as black as the dark night of Amavasya. But when he met the Yama in person, he was puzzled seeing Yama's calm countenance and dignified stature. Yama explained to Nachiketa that only by passing through the darkness of death, man sees the light of the highest wisdom and his soul can escape from the bondage of his body to become one with the Divine. Nachiketa, then, realized the importance of worldly life and significance of death. With all his doubts set at rest, he whole-heartedly participated in the Diwali celebrations.
The fourth day of the celebrations is known Varshapratipada and marks the coronation of King Vikram. This is also the day when Lord Krishna lifted the mighty mountain Govardhan to save the people of Gokul from the torrential anger of Lord Indra.
The fifth day – Bhai-duj
– symbolizes the love between brothers and sisters. The brothers give them a gift as a token of their love.
It is believed that wealth (Goddess Lakshmi) is very transient and it stays only where there is hard work, sincerity and gratefulness. In Shriman Bhagvatam, there is a mention about an incident when Goddess Lakshmi left the body of King Bali and wanted to go with Lord Indra. On questioning, she mentioned that she resides only where there is 'Satya', 'Daan', 'Vrat', 'Tapa', 'Parakram' and 'Dharma'.
This Diwali let us pray and feel grateful – let there be prosperity in every corner of the world – let all people experience love, joy and abundance in their lives.