By Rev. Clay Nelson
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Rev. Clay Nelson © 27 March 2016
One of the few difficulties I’ve had as a refugee from the Northern Hemisphere is celebrating Easter with autumn’s chrysanthemums and not spring’s lilies. It was ingrained into me that Easter had to be a spring holiday. After all, Easter takes its name from the Saxon Mother Goddess, Eostre, which means spring. But recently I read about the northern autumn festival celebrated by Hindus, Divali. It changed my perspective. As with Easter, Divali’s date is determined by the moon. It is a great festival of light—burning candles set floating out on the water along the banks of rivers and candles in people’s homes and in temples, dazzling fireworks, gaily coloured greeting cards, family visits, the giving of gifts. On Divali Eve, Laksmi, the goddess of wealth and fortune is said to ride across the land astride a giant owl just at dusk, scattering her gifts to all who deserve them. To us Divali seems to be a strange admixture of Christmas (lights and gifts), Guy Fawkes (fireworks), and Halloween (flying witches and owls). To the Hindu it is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, of humanity’s never ceasing effort to achieve a true and harmonious relationship to ultimate reality.