13th : Light

Candles, fire, a torch, the blinking red or white safety light on the back, side or front of the bike.  The sun, the moon, the stars, the blinking red or green or yellow battery indicator light in the corner of my mobile.

Natural or commercially made, I find sources of light everywhere and I utilise them and adapt them to my needs.  Light as a source to see by.  Light as a byproduct from a heat source.  Light as a form of ritual behaviour.  Light for thinking, light for cooking, light for security, light for warmth.

In old texts the beginning of the Universe is with the introduction of Light.  The interdependant relationship of light and heat being a key factor in the development of so many areas of Life.

In recent days in Nepal it has been the 5 day festival of Tihar.   In India it is known as Diwali – The Festival of Lights and whilst I was advised that prior to the festival it was possible to see the surrounding hills of the Kathmandu valley imagine my surprise to enter a city cloaked in the smoke and grease of a billion little candles burning for the gods and for crows, dogs, cows, ox (or self depending on the specific community) and finally for brothers and sisters.

Flower garlands are given to the animals on their respective days.  Food and sweet treats are also given.  On the final 2 days specific puja is performed for ‘self’ in the Newar community and then for brothers/sisters on the final dy and involves the giving of a 7 coloured tika (forehead blessing).  Throughout any puja or festival the lighting of candles or lamps or fires is essential to the practise and is done by all families with large numbers of individual points of flame.

People without siblings visit friends and cousins and the temple on the lake specific to this festival was reopened  for 1 day only so people could pay their filial respects.  The streets are filled with disguarded, disintegrating marigold garlands and with animals dragging those ratty remnants, of their halycon days of plenty, around with them.

The light of these candles burnt brightly through days and nights in the city and gave spiritual sustenance to some people and created a suffocating, dusty, oil lamp, candle fat greasy environment for the rest.

Don’t misunderstand.  I was entranced by the beauty of the lights and candles during the festival and at the same time was utterly amazed by the impact that these little spots of heat and light can have when they become such a multitude.  The capacity of these tiny burning wicks to block in the city and block out the surrounding hills shocked me deeply and reminded me of the capacity that arises when there numbers reach a (tipping) point and change from minor to major impact.

The necessity for light also depends on intention.  There have been numerous times for me, whilst camping especially, that the sun has hit the horizon and I have not found a suitable spot and so am frantically looking for a practical place to pitch before the light completely fades from the sky.

I make the most of the light available and then when it becomes too dark for cooking or reading I crawl into my warm home and wait for the return of the light the following day!  The expectation being that the sun, our major light source, will always return and provide the necessary factors of heat and light for life to continue the same as before, day after day after day.