“Wealth, the lamp unfailing, speeds to every land; Dispersing darkness at its lord’s command.” –Sant Thiruvalluvar, Thirukural, verses 753 of Chapter 76
The festival of Deepawali, a symbol of light, prosperity and sacredness, is around the corner. When the world is seeing a crisis of civilisation, where conflicts are a norm, no prevailing, recognised model of development is assuring true happiness and inclusive growth and manipulation for profiteering is the only law every model embedded in the so-called ‘modernity’ wants to follow. When darkness is gripping humanity, and the existing international systems look insufficient and ineffective to bring the light, how should we celebrate and reverberate to the original message of the biggest Bharatiya festival of the Hindu calendar year?
Deepawali has many dimensions attached to it. The religious dimension, of course, is central and echoes in the popular mind. The homecoming of Prabhu Sri Ram to Ayodhya after liberating Maa Sita and Lanka from the arrogant and unjust rule of Ravana is the story that has illuminated the Bharatiya minds across the region, irrespective of language, caste and community. This year, the story associated with the beginning of Ram Rajya has a special significance as Ram Lalla is returning to his abode in a few months, on January 22, 2024, to be precise. After the struggle for centuries, the symbol of the Bharatiya ideal, not just in human terms but also as culture, governance and prosperity, is reclaiming the birthplace that was desecrated time and again to humiliate and eradicate the Sanatan Dharma. For Deepawali, taking a collective resolve and striving to nurture the values that Ayodhya and Ram Rajya stand for would be the real celebration of the homecoming of Sri Ram.
Besides religiosity, Deepawali also has economic connotations. Since ancient times, it has been a harvest festival celebrated by farmers. Despite the common usage of the Gregorian calendar, when it comes to farming and festivals, all parts of Bharat still use the national calendar. The end of the harvest season before the winter brings in prosperity. Prayers for Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and good fortune, is a form of thanksgiving for granting a good crop. Preparing various food items, especially sweets, and sharing them with family and friends symbolise shared joy and prosperity.
Lightening the earthen lamps, or traditional diyas, symbolises goodness and purity, our inherent connection with the soil of this sacred land. The process also makes the traditional artisans, the original technocrats who carve out things of the soil, part of the national celebration. Farmers make other constituents of the society part of those harvest festivities. Every household kindling those lamps represents the dispelling of darkness and going towards the light. It is also a time for the commencement of the auspicious and overcoming the vices such as anger and greed. Thus, besides religion and economics, Deepawali has a more significant philosophical, cultural and sociological meaning that needs to be recontextualised.
Yes, with the changing times, new electrical lights and strings have become part of the festival.
Firecrackers evolved as a new way of celebration to which children naturally look forward. Mass-level sweets are produced, purchased and distributed. Foreign multinational companies are playing games through planted research and aggressive marketing to capture the market by discrediting traditional local products. All these things have evolved with new technology and changing lifestyles. While adapting to the same, we should uphold the original philosophy and meaning behind the festivities.
Can we ensure being vocal for local and make our celebrations more inclusive along with people around us? Not just the family members but neighbours and the people who provide different services to us throughout the year should be part of our festivities. Not extravaganza and show-offs, but the shared joy is the real essence of Bharatiya festivities is that Sanskara should be passed on to the younger generation. Remaining environmentally sensitive through a sustainable model of development and lifestyles is also critical in this regard.
Inculcating the Swadeshi sense is a crucial aspect of making our nation powerful and prosperous, based on our cultural identity, and festivals play an essential role in the process. The Union Government has initiated a flagship initiative called ‘Start-up India’ to catalyse start-up culture and build a strong and inclusive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship. Problem-solving with digital technology is the essence of a proper start-up. Bharat has amazing entrepreneurial potential; it just needs a hand-holding of the Government and society. Despite all apprehensions, we have reinvented our traditional businesses based on the trust factor of families and communities, irrespective of socialist or liberal capitalist policies.
This Deepawali, we are bringing you the success stories that contributed to the Swadeshi model of wealth creation. Though they have adopted new technologies, most of these start-up ventures tried to address the social problems and contributed to wealth creation and employment generation. The success stories of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Zoho Corporation, a Bharatiya multinational technology company that makes computer software and web-based business tools are real inspirational stories. Start-ups in the Defence sector are making their presence felt.
Many others have taken small steps so that Bharat can be Aatmanirbhar. They have assessed the future needs of our nation and their social milieu and developed business models with their friends and family members. They are making a profit but not just for themselves. Of course, Government initiatives are helping them, but either the Government does everything or the individual rights-based market will take care of itself, both are not Bharatiya models of economy. Team spirit based on cooperation and trust among families and communities is the fundamental basis of wealth creation and distribution in Bharat. Those relationships are more than just professional and have emotional and social content. Hence, we are presenting a few success stories that can inspire us to go global while remaining local in the spirit.
We hope this small initiative of recognising the indigenous innovators will further incubate and facilitate the model of shared prosperity. Happy Deepawali to all our readers, well-wishers and advertisers! Let Bharat become the problem solver for humanity!