On April 5 at 9 pm, amid the dark sky and solemn spirits, came a sight that India will cherish for years to come. Following our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call, Indians across the country came out of their homes to ignite not just a candle or diya, but a spirit of positivity.
When the move was announced, many people were apprehensive. They wondered, “What is the purpose?” “How is this a solution?” “How can the government use such mild measures in these terrible times?”
Well, sometimes the best solution for those in agony is to take a pause. Pause your incessant worries, your stresses, and your criticism. Maybe your quest to find peace is simpler than you thought.
The tradition of lighting diyas in Indian culture dates back to when Lord Ram was welcomed back from Lanka by the people in Ayodhya. The core significance of a diya is captured beautifully in a Sanskrit shloka: ‘Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya’ which signifies the journey from darkness to light. However, the diyas lit yesterday were symbolic of more than just that.
In our fast-paced social lives, we often told our families how tired we were of interacting with large number of people and desired comfort from our loved ones. Strangely, now that we are with family, we feel alone. In this time of crisis, even when we are fortunate to sit with people whom we love, we feel empty. This emptiness is aggravated by terms like ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation’, but yesterday, for the first time in many days, we felt a sense of togetherness, even if it was just for 9 minutes.
Standing in our balconies, hearing chants of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, the ringing of bells and of course, seeing the luminescence of the diyas, even the gravest frowns would have effortlessly eased into a smile. This magnificent gesture of solidarity boldly sent out a message that we all must remember, especially in the current scenario: “It's not just you.”
We don’t realise it but often we dwell in our own selfish world where everything starts and stops at I, me and myself. “What will happen to me?” “How do I protect myself?” “What about my job?” “How will I study?”
At the most, we worry about our loved ones, but that’s it. No one apart from our circle of 10-15 people gets our time or empathy. At a time where the entire world is suffering because of the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic, we still have, or at least had, a myopic vision; limited to where we wanted it to be. Yesterday, seeing diyas lit by our neighbours, from places which we thought were abandoned, from houses we never bothered to look at, served as a reminder of our greed and apathy.
It is fair to say that it is human greed that has brought us all to this unfortunate state of affairs and in return, God, in his own way, has tried to purify this world once again and persuade us to give up this sin. All those who forcibly blind themselves to the light need to notice these subtle yet highly powerful hints. Notice them before a bigger catastrophe stares you in the face and you realise that it’s too late.