We are in the midst of some of the most special days of the year... Diwali, the eternal festival of light, of darkness banished by the gleam of goodness, of auspicious vibrations that expand beyond religion to wrap one and all in an air of bliss and hope.
Wealth and abundance remains the underlying theme of all six days of the festival. As Indian mythologist and author Devdutt Pattanaik describes, day one starts with Vasu Baras, denoting respect of animal wealth, while day two is Dhanteras, which offers respect to mineral wealth. The following days, Narak Chaudas value skillsymbolises respect of plant wealth, while Lakshmi/ Kali Puja turns the spotlight on gambling to and luck. While day five, Govardhan, is symbolic of enjoying bounty, day six is in remembrance of Yam duj, of keeping accounts.
This successfully dispels any notions of the festival being materialistic at its core. On the contrary, Lakshmi Puja is imbued with immense spiritual purpose. These annual prayers to Goddess Mahalakshmi set off a process of examining our understanding of money and its effects on our behaviour. The all too human greed for money, which can get debilitating and out of hand if not harnessed, is transformed into a better understanding of wealth. Instead of a commodity to be pursued, comes the realisation of wealth which creates feelings of peace and abundance.
Wealth then translates as prosperity, and the sharing of it with one’s family and friends encourages emotions of solidarity, connection and unity.
Eventually, its purpose reaches a higher plane: wealth that is imbued with Divinity. When wealth becomes Lakshmi, its use soars and extends beyond the border of just family... It expands to reach those who are in need of it, immaterial of considerations such as caste and creed, fulfilling essential requirements through charity and donations. Wealth is now all about earning and sharing. The goddess of wealth and abundance now reaches out to all those truly in need of Her grace and succour. This Diwali, it’s time to discover the Mahalakshmi within...