Diwali, India’s crowning festival, evokes the embodiment of hope with the triumph of light over darkness and wisdom over ignorance. Celebrated when autumn breezes clear the way for mid-November’s chill, this five-day ceremony finds its pinnacle in the ceremonial lighting of oil lamps during the new moon’s darkest sky. These lamps, lit with reverence, beckon prosperity and intellect into homes, honoring Lakshmi, the deity of wealth, and Ganesh, the patron of new beginnings and prudence for the forthcoming year.
Nestled amidst the serenity of mid-autumn’s embrace, Diwali at Coco Wasi on the Big Island of Hawaii unfolded as a harmonious blend of Indian tradition and Hawaiian culture, a true confluence of light, wisdom, and communal spirit. As we lit the candles (a stand in for traditional oil lamps) on Saturday evening, each flicker was a tribute to Lakshmi and Ganesh, illuminating the path for prosperity and foresight in the year ahead.
Navroop Sahdev’s introduction to the festival laid a profound foundation for the evening, leading into an immersive experience guided by the enchanting and relaxing tunes of James Elston’s flute and electric clarinet within Coco Wasi’s sanctuary.
As the event unfolded, it was enriched by the poignant practice of Hawaiian chanting. Encircling the potluck spread, hands joined in unity, we delved into the ancient rhythms of the meles. The “mahalo” chant resonated with our collective gratitude, while “E Ho mai” carried a prayerful plea to draw upon the deep wisdom of our ancestors through the cadence of Hawaiian song.
With bowed heads and joined spirits, we blessed the feast—a vibrant tapestry of traditional Indian dishes and wholesome organic selections—ushering in the potluck with reverence and joy.
The fusion of Diwali’s luminous traditions with the poignant chants of Hawaii forged an unforgettable celebration at Coco Wasi, a gathering that transcended mere festivity to become a sacred rite honoring the eternal dance of cultural symphony and spiritual kinship. This synthesis of light and song, of gratitude and heritage, marked the evening not just as special, but as a historical intertwining of paths, a testament to the sanctuary’s embrace of global traditions and the unifying power of shared light.