“Light festive lamps, make bright the night, Shine your own lights, illuminate the world.” — Tagore’s Autumnal Nights, translated by Professor Fakrul Alam
Celebrating and reinforcing the victory of the human spirit over darker forces is a cathartic experience in a world reeling under the impact of senseless wars, depression and economic crises. While the Earth too upheaves changes to create new lores, we draw comfort from the perpetuation of rituals that have solaced us over centuries. These festivals are celebrated in different ways across the world on different days. But, the festival of lights has become a major one, celebrated by a diaspora across all continents. The rituals were varied but the celebrations include lighting of lamps across the board.
Lamps were lit to celebrate Rama’s return home after destroying darker forces as Diwali among North Indians. Among those from the South and West, it was the victory of Krishna over demon Narakasur that warranted the celebration of Deepavali. And yet those from the East, celebrate Kali’s victory over the rakshasas with lamps, sparklers and prayers. The Jain and Buddhist communities also have their special observances on this day.
To bring to you a flavour of these festivals, we have writings by Farouk Gulsara from Malaysia on the celebration of Deepavali during his childhood; Debraj Mookerjee on Kali Puja celebrations in his ancestral home and a sample of Bibhutibhushan’s stories on the darker tantric practices — intrinsically linked to the worship of Kali along with Basudhara Roy’s review of the translation of his book by Devalina Mookerjee.
We begin our selection to jubilate this festival of lights with a translation of Tagore’s poem on light and another by Mike Smith.
Tagore’s Paean to Light. Click here to read.
Last Lights by Mike Smith. Click here to read.
In Dim Memories of the Festival of Lights, Farouk Gulsara takes a nostalgic trip to Deepavali celebrations in the Malaysia of his childhood. Click here to read.
In Vignettes of Life: Unhurried at Haripur, Debraj Mookerjee revisits Kali Puja in his ancestral home. Click here to read
Basudhara Roy reviews Taranath Tantrik and Other Tales from the Supernatural by Bibhutibhushan, translated from Bengali by Devalina Mookerjee. Click here to read.
An excerpt from Taranath Tantrik and Other Tales from the Supernatural by Bibhutibhushan, translated from Bengali by Devalina Mookerjee. Click here to read.