This past weekend, India celebrated Diwali; the Festival of Lights. For the uninitiated, Diwali symbolizes and celebrates the win of good vs evil. It is said that Lord Rama fought and won against the demon who had kidnapped his wife. The night when he was to bring her back to the Kingdom, was the night of the new moon, the darkest night of the month. The people of the Kingdom of Ayodhya(birth place of Ram) lit oil lamps to show them the way back home. Depending on the lunar cycle, the festival is celebrated over 4 days, in the last week of Oct or first week of November.
In more recent history, it is also the night when Guru Har Gobind (the last Guru of the Sikhs), freed himself and some Hindu kings, from the prison of the Mughal emperor, Jahangir. It is the same dark night of the new moon when he arrived at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. Sikhs light candles and decorate Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) with fairy lights to celebrate this victory.
Diwali also signifies change, it is a start for something new. For many it is a new financial beginning, as we pray to Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity and financial success.
I have been thinking about Diwali in today’s world. Do millennials understand or even care about the Ramayana and other mythological stories? As young adults, we fight inner demons more than evil on the outside. Of course, in today’s world the ever increasing threat of terrorism, oppressive governments, racism, caste based discrimination exist. These could be looked at as evil that rot today’s society. However, don’t you think that many of these stem from inner demons like fear, insecurity, ignorance and the need for power over others?
The significance of change and the victory of good vs evil on the night of the new moon took a completely new meaning for me. Weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to a workshop to welcome the New Moon. The description talked about experiencing an awakening of your true self and I signed up, not knowing what to expect. The workshop was in South Philly, a beautiful, quaint place called Palo Santo Wellness Center.
Even the best of us have some form of negativity residing inside us. We hold resentments, feel anger, fear the unknown, feel lonely, anxious and stressed out, we lack of confidence or harbor jealousy. All of these demons bring us down, some of us more than others. All of these can be looked at as a form of evil that we need to win over. So this Diwali, just as Lord Ram and Guru Govind Singh fought evil, I decided to face my inner demons. I confronted them and chose to slay them, kinda like Beyonce – but in a sari :D. I let go of people, situations, memories, thoughts that no longer serve me and made place for new experiences. Just as we lit lamps for Ram, I chose to light up from within to heal those feelings that brought me down. I replaced them with love, wisdom and the possibility of potential. This Diwali, I fought my own demons and paved a path for victory.
Incidentally, I had been planning to do a shoot in a Sari, a traditional garment of 5-9 yards of fabric draped by women across India. After several hits and misses, due to Irina (the beautiful Incognitowanderer) and my schedule, we finally shot this weekend. She wanted to shoot the timid, reserved, feminine qualities of Indian women, while I wanted to show off the strength, perseverance that makes the modern Indian woman. The photoshoot felt like a fairytale with an Indian woman walking through the bushes, afraid of what might come. Walking away from things that no longer serve to discovering the city and looking at the potential that life can be!
Don’t things have a way of working out?
To me these photos show more than the outfit, they show fear, anger and other inner demons we all fight on a daily basis and finally letting go & walking away from them to slay and win over them. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much I enjoyed writing it! Happy Diwali!!!
Saree – Silk Emporium in Bangalore, India
Blouse – Fashion House of Neha Gursahani
All photos by @incognitowanderer.