Diwali and Mandela’s Dream


There is light around you
Everyday, everywhere
Everywhere you see, there is light.
There is wonder.
There are children
There is laughter

What’s missing then,
You might ask.

It is the poet
And the song he lost


Any celebration is an occasion to look back and gaze at the splendor that life has been and will be. Any occasion is a cause to become one, with a sense of community. And anytime we are able to belong, truly belong to each other – that is indeed the very cause to celebrate.

We identify ourselves as separate individuals. We often travel through a variety of intense phases of identity crises. That is the crises that celebration seeks to resolve. A crises that may or may not be the reason for our agony. Our agonies are selfish sometimes, isolated even, revolving around our sense of identities. What if we can discover ourselves in each other?

You may have heard of Ubuntu – an African word that Nelson Mandela made popular. The idea that I am because we are. He said,

‘A traveler through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect Ubuntu – the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others. That if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievement of others.’

Ubuntu is not simply an ideal, or tenet for living life. It is a celebration of life. A celebration of the happiness found in togetherness, and its intimacy. The kind of intimacy that music and nature bring for our soul. That which is found in lighting a dia. In gently rubbing the stick to the box, and ever so lightly touching the flame to the wick of a lamp, as the oil and the fire meet together in the union of a steady flame. That is the flame we need right now. Inside and outside us. More than the fire and smoke in the skies. More than the noises bursting in our eardrums. As Diwali approaches our lives, let us take a more sensitive approach to our lives. Let us find some comfort in each other’s smiles. Let us dwell in each other’s happiness. Let us become us.

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