Lighting the Way for the New Year

Friday morning I went into my yahoo email account (an older, secondary account I now use as a newsletter/spam-catcher account), looking for some information. As I signed out and was redirected to the Yahoo! home page, I remembered why I tend to shy away from it. The page is filled with "true" news stories, and yet they always seem to me to emphasize the sensational, the horrific, all that is tabloidesque about the news - as opposed to sites like Upworthy.com that report news stories meant to inspire and uplift the reader (yes, thumbs up endorsement intended) Anyway there was an article on Yahoo! that caught my eye enough that I took the time to read it. It was a beautifully written and poignant story from a survivor of domestic violence, who in telling her own story and the difficulty she faced in leaving her abusive situation, wanted to raise awareness of the thousands of women and children in similar situations. I intended to link the article on Facebook that morning, but had to rush to get ready for school and work and couldn't get to it right away. At least that's what I am telling you all and myself. Perhaps I didn't take the 2 minutes to share it because I myself am a survivor of domestic violence. Although I am not connected to my ex-husband on Facebook, we do have friends in common. So... if he saw that I shared an article that could maybe, possibly, and very likely be pertaining to him... well it could be bad and it just wasn't worth the risk. That morning though as I got ready, I composed (in my head) an entire blog about domestic violence and my personal story. And then... I prayed on it, asking if this was the right time, the right forum for this subject matter. I think this newsletter is the right forum for raising awareness and yet, even though it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it is not the right time, for me. It was almost exactly seven years ago that I was finally able to leave my situation, thanks to the persistent encouragement and support of friends and family. Today is a lifetime away from those dark days, and I don't feel ready or willing to delve back into them, neither in memory nor word. I do acknowledge that everything I experienced has helped make me who I am, has made me appreciate the miracle of supportive loved ones, and has fueled a burning quest to understand why people hurt others (this might explain my obsession with neuroscience), and ultimately to find within myself the capacity to forgive.

(photo iskcon.org)

Today happens to be the celebration of the Indian new year, known as Diwali (hang with me here, this is related). There are several origins of the celebration of Diwali, as alluded to in this video by TIME (How cool is that? TIME just did a story on Diwali?!). Diwali encompasses the appearance of the Goddess Laxmi, the victory of the great boy-saint, Prahlada, the miraculous lifting of Govardhana Hill in Vrindavana by Lord Krishna, the worship of the cow (revered in India as one of the seven mothers of humanity), as well as the return of Lord Ramachandra to His kingdom after many years in exile.

The return of Rama to Ayodhya is elaborately described in India's epic history, the Ramayana. Overcome with joy at the long-awaited return of their king, the citizens of Ayodhya thoroughly cleaned and decorated the entire city with lamps, or diyas.

(photo krishna.com)

In modern-day India and beyond, Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains alike celebrate Diwali as the New Year. And guess what happens at the New Year, besides feasting, fun, and fireworks? The world over, the beginning of a new year signifies a new beginning. It is a time to let go of the past, forgive old hurts (see, I told you this would be related), and set intentions for a better and brighter future. This evening I will go to my spiritual home, the Hillsborough Krishna Temple, and light a lamp in memory of both those who have helped me, and those who have hurt me. I do this because part of my better and brighter future includes being a light for others, a light that is fueled by compassion, grace and forgiveness.

(youtube.com)

If any of you are interested in celebrating with me, there will be two (count them!) opportunities today. My band Samadhiwill be playing today from 1:30 - 3:30ish at a Vegan Halloween Potluck at Compass Rose Brewery, 3201 Northside Drive, Raleigh 27615. Then most of the band will pack up and head over to the Hillsborough Temple, 1032 Dimmocks Mill Road, Hillsborough 27278 for their gorgeous Diwali celebration, which will take place from 4 - 8 pm. Come on over! It just might feel good to light your own lamp, burn the patterns of the past, and light the way for a new future!

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