The unreasonableness of Diwali

Out of a largely empty ritual that few understand in any real way, so much joy, happiness and bonding flows out, soaking everyone in its path. We float in the warm fuzziness of it, and the unreasonable happiness and celebration envelops us. It feels like a happy madness is gripping everyone and we have no immunity from this contagion.  We get a brief glimpse of what maybe Buddha felt, that happiness lies inside us and its nature is unreasonable – nothing else can explain this mass hysteria of happiness that grips India. 

Diwali Diya

The happiness contagion


This is in contrast to how we are used to living most of our ‘normal’ days; days filled with busyness, of getting somewhere, of the pressures of work, or the stresses that crawl into our system sucking away all that joy from us, of worrying about things. Our mental systems have become attuned to finding something to worry about, the mindset of a mere survivor – no matter how materially well off we may already be. And then the Festival of Lights explodes into our face, awakening us, reminding us to be happier. And it spreads through those boxes of sweets, the overenthusiastic greeting from the house helps and the security guards (which also remind you to run to the ATM for the Diwali bonus), the party invitations, and the meals, and the celebrations with family.

We act in abnormal ways in these few days. All the social media timeslines shine up with happy faces, and positivity and cheer  – the world feels like a less dark place. The utopia descends for a few days into our lives. We consciously take stock of our families and of our Gods; cleaning the houses and the the living spaces; make time to meet with close friends; and sharing meals with loved ones; dressing up well. 

But happiness is a complicated thing. Because the exploding crackers will poison the air, the colourful water will deplete the water tables, and sweets may not be good for health, and so on. And the Gods, well, they have become pretty controversial too – not a mere matter of faith, but of political beliefs too, and of debates, and the same old circular logics, and those who probably know something about it laugh at the childlike arguments from both sides. We react in our normal way, by pulling ourselves back from fully feeling the happiness, staying in that ‘limited happiness’, which has become our comfort zone. This is taught to us, and this is the conclusion we draw from the experiences that life has thrown at us. This is what we teach our kids, to never let them be fully happy – coz they will fall, or injure themselves, or make a fool of themselves, and intrude in their happy moments… making them a bit like us, showing them how a life of partial happiness is lived.

For most of us, the familiar crutches of booze comes to our rescue in these moments of intense happiness too. Just like we can’t face our pain in its eyes, we can’t handle happiness with a clear head and mind too. Happiness needs to be diluted, and blurred out by a dulled-out frontal lobe of our brain with alcohol, to distort our raw feeling of happiness – as if pain and happiness were no different for us. And happiness has become that for us, unattainable, especially since someone crystallised it into the poisonous line that has seeped into our belief system – the pursuit of happiness. That pursuit puts happiness away from us, the hard work and the pain that accompany the hard pursuit, and at the end of which is that rainbow under which lies happiness. so we chase the mirage, and we miss the moment in which it exists. And then Diwali arrives, wrapped in all the celebrations and rituals with a message of hope at its core, and simple reminder to just flow.

Diwali lights seems to not just light up the dark spaces of our houses, but also of our hearts for a few moments, and show us a glimpse of the happiness that lies within us. It is a simple lesson in happiness, a gentle reminder about the unreasonable side of ours, the one that doesn’t need any reason to be happy, where being nice to the other person is an alternative to the normal combative stance we have adopted in our lives. It is reminder to celebrate life, unreasonably.

Wishing you happiness and joy and celebration in your life, Always.

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  1. Great article, Thanks for your nice data, the content is quiet attention-grabbing. i’ll be expecting your next post.

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