While called the “Festival of Lights,” Diwali is most importantly a day to become aware of one’s “inner light.” In Hindu philosophy there is an idea of “Atman,” something beyond the body and mind which is pure, infinite and eternal. Today is a celebration of “good” versus “evil”; A day when the light of higher knowledge dispels ignorance. With this awakening comes compassion and joy.
The background story and practices very region to region. Many people celebrate by lighting fireworks and sharing sweets and candies. Diwali is a holiday celebrated across a vast array of countries and religions. It’s celebrated in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji, by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists.
A GREAT INFOGRAPHIC ON DIWALI
By now you’ve probably heard the news stories about the shooting in Wisconsin at a Sikh temple. If you haven’t heard the story, I’m sure you’ll get a thousand hits on Google if you search for it. That’s all I’m going to say about that story!
This post is not made to dwell on tragedy. THAT IS WHAT THE KILLER WANTS. Nor do I like the idea of portraying the attacked as victims. Victimizing the dead is not good for their memories. This attitude builds the strength of the killer while demoralizing those who lost their lives.
Instead, it is better to draw on the strengths of the attacked and to build up the Sikh community so they can rise past this tragedy, instead of living it again and again via the media machine. After 9/11, Sikh attacks have, unfortunately, become more frequent in America. The sad thing is that most of these attackers don’t even know a damned thing about Sikhism.
So I’m going to do what the killer would not want. Instead of crying about the sadness of the deaths. I’m going to use this tragedy to spread understanding of what Sikhism is and build tolerance. I’m going to build up the Sikh people by drawing on their strong points. And I might add that this isn’t a difficult task to do, given the vitality of their people.
Sikhism is a truly fascinating religion, with a long legacy of bravery tempered with compassion. When the British imperialized India, they often forced Sikhs from the Punjab region to fight among their ranks – because the Sikhs were renowned for their strength and courage in battle.
Yet Sikhism is not a violent religion. Far from it, it advocates compassion in all areas of life. Violence is only a last resort when all attempts at peace fail. Note, this is different from other major religions in the world, that state that one must always be peaceful no matter what – even when their adversary is stealing their last breath. I like the Sikh way better, try peace first, but if a mother fucker’s gonna kill my family – shit’s gonna get real up in here (draws swords!)
SO HERE ARE THE BASICS OF SIKHISM
History: It is a mixture of Hinduism and Islam that was formed in the Punjab region of South Asia in the 15th century
1) There is one God
2) Equality: All human beings regardless of race and gender are equal
3) Human life is precious above other forms of life
4) Defending against injustice.
Sikhs are a peace loving people and stand for Truth and Justice
Guru Gobind Singh Ji said, “It is right to use force as a last resort when all other peaceful means fail.”
DISCLAIMER: These are not my beliefs. But I believe it is important to understand the beliefs of others. True spirituality is holistic existence with others on this planet. We are like a machine with many and diverse moving parts. We must understand how each of the parts function, if we are to function together.