It’s that time of the year again. Time for lights, sounds, celebrations, sweets, and families. Despite being under a bit of a legal and meteorological cloud this year, chances are the fervor will be higher than ever. What is it about Diwali that attracts us so?

Legend has it that the festival celebrates the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom after a long exile and after having vanquished a formidable foe. At the time the “diyas” probably served a decorative purpose, but these have now come to symbolize the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, clarity over obscurity et al. These are all elevated concepts though – more spiritual than physical – so why the enthusiasm for the festival?

Could it be that this is a festival that is rooted in celebration – even at the heart of the legend itself? The occasion shines a light on reasons to be happy and makes them the focus of the festival. Making your home beautiful, eating good food, and wearing your festive best are the substance of the occasion – not the byproduct. Even the presiding deity of the primary “Pooja” on the occasion is the deity of material wealth – Mahalaxmi.

Man must aspire to a higher purpose but it is true that all of us respond to simpler, more instinctive needs. It is this sense of celebrating the real and the worldly at the heart of Diwali that attracts us. Happy Diwali!