In the quiet city of Artesia, 20 miles south of Los Angeles, there’s a four-block stretch that teleports to the heart of India. On Pioneer Boulevard, from street 184th to 188th, spices, colors, scents, and sounds will trick your brain into thinking that you’re living the real Indian experience. There are countless restaurants, sari boutiques, and stores selling traditional jewelry, furniture, food, and spices. Women in their beautiful Indian outfits walk gracefully and shop quietly at their favorite stores, men also wear their best outfits with colorful turbans and they make small chat at the street corners, and children play loudly in restaurants.
While I was visiting yesterday, there was a special trepidation for the upcoming Festival of Lights (Diwali) a five-day celebration of the victory of the Good over the Evil and Light over Darkness. “Victory of good over evil”, refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings anand (joy or peace). Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this Inner Light.
Families celebrate Diwali by performing traditional activities together; one of them involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one’s house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome. Firecrackers are burst in order to drive away evil spirits. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.
It’s said that this celebration brings good luck, wealth, and prosperity. Well, I guess I was just lucky to stumble upon it in Little India, but to increase my fortune I purchased some clay lamps, too.