Saturday, October 21, 2006

On the curious coincidence of Diwali Legends

As per wikipedia, Diwali marks as many as four anniversaries of completely unrelated events in India's mythical past.
The goddess Shakti observed 21 days of austerity starting from ashtami of shukla paksha to get half part of the body of Lord Shiva. Deepavali is the completion day of this austerity.

Diwali also celebrates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after the war in Lanka.

It commemorates the killing of Narakasura, an evil demon, by Lord Krishna's wife Sathyabhama.

Diwali is also associated with the annual return of Daitya king Bali to his homeland.
Isn't it indeed incredible and rather disingenuous that there must have been a consensus throughout the country on choosing a particular day to commemorate events remotely spaced in time? Strange. One wonders whether these legends were deliberately assigned the same date with the intent of rendering Diwali theologically significant enough to compete with the semitic festivals like Id and Christmas.

Hinduism is essentially a pagan religion that is practised in a million different ways by people across the subcontinent. The Brahminical Hinduism that I experienced while growing up bears no resemblance to the faiths of say a tribal community in Central India.

The modern 'libertarian' ideal of 'To each his own' has always been an integral aspect of the Hindu way of life. Sadly, after the advent of semetic faiths, there has been a vain attempt by the so-called custodians of our culture to semitize Hinduism. As a part of the semitization drive, festivals like Deepavali that were traditionally the preoccupation of a very small segment of upper-caste population have been foisted upon the masses. To make Diwali seem like a pan-Indian festival, diverse legends from across the country have been disingenuously assigned a common date. Cracker-bursting has been actively encouraged to woo the not-so-religiously inclined. (note - cracker bursting on diwali was unheard of in India a couple of hundred years ago) What we have been observing is a form of propaganda that has changed the very nature of Sanatana Dharma.

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