The Night is Black

At this time of the year millions around the world are preparing for the triduum of  Allhallowtide, which encompasses All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. For many the preparations will include stocking up on candles for the rituals and  traditions that involve candlelight.

Millions more have begun another celebration, today, which also requires light; light to vanquish darkness and evil and despair. This celebration is the annual, five-day  festival of  lights, namely,  Diwali.

Having grown up in Fiji, where Diwali has long been an honoured occasion (and now a public holiday), I have a love for Diwali which outstrips any affection I have for Allhallowtide.   Seeing the houses decorated with beautiful Diwali lights was a yearly highlight of my childhood.

So, this week, in accordance with  my family’s customs,  I will light a Diwali candle (candles if I can find more than one).

Light a candle

Light a candle

I will listen again to the gentle singing words of Rabindranath Tagore’s Invocation to Diwali 

and consider the significance of Diwali, so eloquently expressed here:  “The night is black. Kindle the lamp of love with thy life and devotion.” (Rabindranath  Tagore)

Until night falls, however, I will keep watch with the dear, little lights that are ever present , and need no darkness to make them shine.

Little Charlie, a  new  (de) light  to brighten our lives

Little Charlie, a new (de) light to brighten our lives

 

Candelabra

Candelabra; shining light on the shadows

And, if I can organize myself sufficiently well, I may even make a special sweet treat for Diwali;  a rhubarb and apple crumble with freshly picked rhubarb from my garden.

Join me, if you will, in lighting a candle, for the night is black, and we need all the light we can get. Happy Diwali and may the light of the lamp burn brightly in all our hearts.

© silkannthreades

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101 thoughts on “The Night is Black

  1. mmmarzipan

    So, so beautiful! I always love the symbolism of candles… and it is so close to my heart now that I live in a country that celebrates Lucia and All Soul’s. And how cute is Charlie?! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Charlie is very cute but he keeps giving his owner ( the neighbour) a lot of worry, by taking off to who knows where. I love all candlelight but your Northern candlelight seems to have a special glow.

      Reply
  2. GretchenJoanna

    Only two months ago I learned about Diwali from Rumer Godden’s books – It does sound like a holiday in which everyone could happily participate, celebrating that aspect of being human by which we share our light and encouragement with each other. Thank you for this post!

    Reply
  3. womanseyeview

    My granddaughter’s school celebrates all the festivals and Diwali is one of her favourites – she taught me about it! May we all celebrate each other’s special days – nice post!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That is good to hear. It’s lovely to share and understand others’ special days. My feeling is that we are mostly honouring or celebrating the same things but with different window-dressing.

      Reply
  4. Cynthia Reyes

    What a delightful post.
    I think Diwali ought to be a tradition in the dark northern evenings of Canada. We could all use a little light in our dark nights – metaphorically speaking, as well.
    What an interesting life you’ve had so far, Gallivanta.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Now those words ‘What an interesting life you’ve had so far’ form a precious candle of their own. It’s good to remember there’s more to come and it could be fabulous!

      Reply
  5. earthbornliving

    I have so loved reading about this festival – Thankyou
    I love the notion of preparing and directing the house then readying oneself in best clothes lighting rows if candles -fireworks – special food and the triumph over darkness symbolically – often I imagine people in this way small flames interconnecting around the world as a web. Exactly what we all need – the darker the darkness the lighter the light.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, the idea of preparing oneself physically and spiritually for a festival is very appealing. I remember when those preparations used to be very much a part of the build up to Christmas. Fasting before the big feast days was also more common. I like your idea that we are small flames interconnecting around the world. The NASA video clip adds a nice visual component to your words

      Reply
  6. Clanmother

    Happy Diwali! We have many Diwali celebrations in Vancouver! Thank you for your kind words about Canada. As Rabindranath Tagore said, “Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them….”

    Reply
      1. Clanmother

        Yes, he is! Today (I’m still on the 25th) is the third anniversary of my father’s passing. I was comforted by Rabindranath Tagore’s quote: “Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          That is one of my favourite quotes too. It is a comfort. Perhaps you will light and extinguish a candle for your beloved father. Hugs.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The most delightful part about Charlie is that he is not mine. I can enjoy his presence without having to worry about feeding him. I am happy to have brought Diwali to your life. I am sure there are lots of festivals in Ireland about which I know nothing.

      Reply
  7. shoreacres

    I was introduced to Diwali by Indian neighbors who always created Rangoli at the doorstep of their home. One year, they offered a workshop at a local arts center, and people found out pretty quickly what a skill that is! It’s fascinating to watch a design emerge, as shown here. It would be tempting to imagine that the Diwali lights and the Rangoli have no real association, but on the other hand, watching such images emerge from nothingness is akin to seeing the world re-emerge at the dawn..

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That’s a wonderful analogy Linda. Watching rangoli being made makes me feel incredibly clumsy. With your brightwork skills, which must require dexterity, you might find rangoli easier to do than I would.

      Reply
  8. Pingback: Reposting: The Night is Black | Visual Fling

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Although Diwali does have lots of commercialization attached to it, it still seems to retain its spiritual significance. It is a shame that Halloween has lost much of its original significance. However, both festivals uplift our spirits, so that’s all to the good. And in both festivals, sweets/candy play an important role. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Pingback: About Love, Light and Winterknitting | Mrs. Walker Goes Back to School

  10. LaVagabonde

    Happy Diwali to you,too. I admit I know next to nothing about it, but because of your post I know a little more. 🙂 I’ve also adopted a holiday – All Saint’s Day – because of living in Eastern Europe. Halloween used to be my favorite holiday, but I now overlook it for November first. A trip to a cemetery in the evening, with all of the flickering candles and the scent of flowers, is absolutely magical.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Have you posted about your experience of All Saints? I have seen some lovely posts in previous years from bloggers in Sweden and Finland. I think it’s beautiful to come together in the cemetery with candles and flowers and remember loved ones. I don’t know of any such celebration in NZ but whilst googling for information, I found this touching tribute to a NZ soldier buried in Krakow. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bazylek/8171976940/ How lovely that someone thought of him at All Saints.

      Reply
  11. Pingback: Light One Candle | Love Those "Hands at Home"

  12. Juliet

    How beautiful Gallivanta. Diwali is an uplifting festival, and you have a special connection with it. All Hallows Eve is of course the northern hemisphere festival of late autumn, and falls on April 30 in the southern hemisphere.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Juliet, I enjoyed your seasonal newsletter on the subject of Halloween. I liked your idea of embracing the polarities. Diwali is also considered an autumn festival but seems to have found meaning outside of its original season.

      Reply
  13. diannegray

    What a beautiful post. Vanquishing darkness and evil and despair is really needed in the world right now.
    I love how you can make rhubarb and apple crumble pie. I feel like some now 😉
    Happy Diwali 😀

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks Dianne; sending you a virtual helping of rhubarb and apple crumble. Have you tried making a tropical fruit crumble? Some of the recipes look good but I haven’t ever tried making a tropical one.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thinking about recent events in Canada, I thought it would be okay to post your PM’s Diwali statement here. Our candles are needed more than ever. 🙂

      Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on Diwali:

      “Laureen and I would like to extend our best wishes to those celebrating Diwali across the country and around the world.

      “Also known as the ‘Festival of Lights,’ Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. It is a time when family and friends gather to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness and of good over evil. It also marks the end of the harvest season and a period of renewal, providing an occasion to recognize the good fortunes of the previous year, and to remember those less fortunate than ourselves.

      “With this in mind, let us acknowledge the tragic events that have taken place this past week, and extend our deepest sympathies to the families of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.

      “These events are grim reminders that Canada is not immune to the types of attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world. It is imperative that we, as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all, continue to defend our values against those who
      seek to undermine them.

      “In light of recent events, the celebration of Diwali is timely. On behalf of all Canadians, I wish everyone celebrating today a happy, healthy, meaningful and safe Diwali.”
      – See more at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2014/10/23/statement-prime-minister-canada-diwali#sthash.z7KJOfRj.dpuf

      Reply
      1. inmycorner

        Thank-you for this acknowledgement. I am very pleased that our Prime Minister has spoken to you and others who celebrate Diwali. I must confess I am proud that he has spoken in such good taste. I watched him step from his own chair in parliament to hug the leader of our opposition and is arch enemy Justin Trudeau in the spirit of solidarity and victory of light over darkness. That does not happen very often. Especially since we have all considered the PM to be very cold and unaffected. I would rather see more Canadians celebrate Diwali than Thanksgiving these days!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I googled the ‘hugs’. Such a pity it takes a tragedy to remind people to hug, not that we would want our politicians being too full of hugs in Parliament but, perhaps, instead of a daily prayer there could be a daily hug before the proceedings begin. 😀

  14. Su Leslie

    Lovely; Diwali has become an important public festival in Auckland, but I haven’t paid much attention to the meaning. Thank you; I will light a candle tonight.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It looks as though Auckland had its main Diwali festivities on 11/12 October. The website says there are more than 100,000 people of Indian heritage in Auckland, so no wonder it is a big festival up your way. Enjoy your candle lighting. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Su Leslie

        Yes; my son and some friends have started going to the Festival here. I read somewhere recently that Indian migrants are the second largest group of “new” migrants to Auckland. I’m looking forward to my candle-lighting tonight. Cheers, Su.

        Reply
  15. thecontentedcrafter

    How lovely that you still celebrate this festival Gallivanta. I had a translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s words for Diwali once, but left them somewhere some years ago and never got them again…… you reminded me to search for them again. I watched the little video too – it was most interesting. Nice to see a kitty in your garden! This morning we could do with a Diwali Festival – it is cold, dark,and rather wet. Perhaps I shall light some candles and muse upon the good things of the world.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I hope you find the translation because I would like to see it. 🙂 I was looking for one to post but couldn’t find anything entirely satisfactory. May your candle lighting and musing go well.

      Reply
  16. utesmile

    I love candles and here in Europe it is dark sooner in the evenings and colder, so candle light brings light and warmth for me. I can just imagine eating your beautiful crumble at candle light with you! Peaceful in harmony with the world!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Charlie is so funny to watch; he’s very busy all the time learning how to be a big grown-up cat. He’s only just realised that he can sit on a fence like that.

      Reply
  17. Poetsmith

    An enlightening post! Indeed, may His light overcome all darkness. Over here it is a public holiday too and Diwali is also known as Deepavali. Hope the joys of spring continue to shine for you … 🙂

    Reply
  18. Robbie

    I never knew all that:-) that is interesting + what a beautiful tradition to have lights all through the house:-) I LOVE candles so I would be happy celebrating this holiday. A special treat for your holiday-“rhubarb and apple crumble with freshly picked rhubarb from my garden” YUM…my grandmother use to make this all the time:-) I love tradition:-)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is lovely to think of every little corner lit up and sparkling. Rhubarb and apple crumble would not really be classed as a Diwali treat but it’s still a treat in this house.

      Reply
      1. Robbie

        I need to find a place to squeeze rhubarb in for I have dwarf apple trees. My grandmother use to make strawberry + Rhubarb, too..shoot-anything “crumble” is my favorite!

        Reply
  19. Joanne Jamis Cain

    Thank you for enlightening me and sharing your holidays. I am ready to get out a string of twinkle lights to embellish my indoor plants- the more to bring a bit of light to this darkening time of year.
    Your rhubarb crumble sounds delicious.
    Joanne

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The twinkle lights are the very thing to lighten the gloom. And most likely safer than candles. 😉 The rhubarb crumble did get made but I forgot to add some orange peel to the rhubarb so it is not as nice as it could be.

      Reply
  20. ladysighs

    I had not heard of this festival and read more about it. I liked these words from the Wikipedia: “the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair”
    Must be beautiful to see all the lights.
    Enjoy your new delight. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      In countries (not New Zealand) where Diwali is fully celebrated the lights are beautiful. I have added a short video to the sidebar which gives a good explanation of Diwali. I say short but, at 13 mins in length, it may still be a bit long for most people to sit through.

      Reply
      1. ladysighs

        I did come back and watched the video. It was very interesting and it moved fast so you forgot about the time. lol
        I liked watching the women make a design on the floor of the house. Everybody seems to love firecrackers. 🙂

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          The designs are fascinating but I am not so keen on fireworks. I love sparklers though. Always have, always will, I suppose. Glad you watched the video.

  21. celialadygarden

    What a beautiful post. In this troubled world we live in we all need a little light of hope and the way you have celebrated Diwali with the light of candles, flowers and our beloved pets lifts the heart.
    Happy Diwali
    Celia

    Reply

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