Tuesday, November 13, 2012

diwali 2012

as part of the multi-cultural portion of this blog, i wanted to bring everyone's attention to the Indian festival of Diwali, which starts today. Diwali, translated into english as the "Festival of Light(s)", is a 5-day festival that falls in between the end of the hot season and the beginning of the monsoon season in India. following the Hindu lunar calendar, its date changes every year in the Gregorian calendar. for 2012, it commences on Tuesday, November 13 and ends Sunday, November 18.

during Diwali, communities display brightly-colored ornaments and decorative paintings made from colored powder, and come together each night for fireworks, candles, and lights. there are pastries and candies specific to the holiday, meant to be given to families and strangers alike. while primarily celebrated in India, it's common to all Vedic civilizations, including Burma (Myanmar), Fiji, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.

you can learn more about Diwali at the following links and video:

Diwali reflects some fairly universal themes that most of us can appreciate. the 5 days ostensibly celebrate the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and wisdom over ignorance. as such it marks a normative identification about the aspects of life that are "good" versus all that which is "bad", and an alliance by humanity with the former in opposition to the latter. its celebration, however, is meant not just in association with humanity as a whole, but also meant in recognition of each human as an individual. essentially, it notes the struggle within each person to arise from the depths of their own ignorance and artifice and reach the higher truths of existence, and through such truths realize the meaning of life in the face of eternity: kindness, compassion, appreciation, understanding, and wisdom. every one, each one, all. in joy.

like i said, all things that are universal for most of us.

what makes Diwali unique, however, is that it is a single holiday shared by multiple religions. Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists all partake in Diwali, making it one of the few major multi-cultural multi-faith events in the world today. the extent to which Diwali is celebrated can be seen in the picture at the top of this post, which shows India at night during Diwali. it's a profound, powerful statement of harmony and commonality of a desire for the better parts of the human soul.

and this is something that i find appeals to me.

one of the reasons i like to travel is that it gives me an opportunity to encounter different cultures and expand my awareness of the world. but the reason i like to do so in the context of doing international Ironmans is that it allows me the experience of seeing the ways different people think about the important things in life. i count myself lucky that i have (to the extent that i've been able) met people within the situation of a race, when--despite all the differences in culture, language, or place of origin--everyone shares the same sojourn in the space of miles and where everyone in the depths of the distance is driven to discard the superficial trappings of their mundane lives and is left to face the most fundamental, simple, pure aspects of their own natures...because it's then that you find out what people consider to be most dear.

and what i've found is a spirit in keeping with the message called forth by the core of Diwali.

because at the core of every race is a deeply personal, highly individual endeavor to learn about the self. and while the exploration of the self is manifested in a physical act of the body, it involves a deeper and more visceral level incorporating an expression of the mind and a testimony of the soul, and so becomes in truth a total revelation of the self. more than that, it becomes transformative, as a race is a transfiguration of space and time that crystallizes into moments of understanding that touches the horizons of forever.

and that understanding is the understanding that comes from realizing what it means to move.

and breathe.

and feel.

and see.

and smell.

and taste.

and listen.

and know.

and so to exist.

and thereby look upon the void of mortality and touch the face of life and in its mystery reach the truths that are carried within the heart of eternity beating its time in each and every one of us.

and because this journey is undertaken for each one every one all of one in us by us for us about us, we become aware of the value of kindness and the power of compassion and the need for appreciation so that awareness becomes understanding and knowledge becomes wisdom and being becomes enlightenment and we become the spirit coursing through the reaches of infinite.

and that is hope.

and that is joy.

and that is human.

good over evil. light over darkness. wisdom over ignorance.

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