I have myself always been a staunch advocate of early rising. Waking up at Brahmamuhurta (about 4am) is a great blessing from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work and spiritual advancement. It is on Deepavali day that everyone wakes up early in the morning. The sages who instituted this custom must have cherished the hope that their descendants would realise its benefits and make it a regular daily habit.
Everyone wears new clothes. Often, for the poor, this is the only new cloth for the year. Masters present new clothes to their servants. Those who can afford, distribute clothes freely to the poor and the needy. Charity, especially in the matter of distribution of clothes, is freely resorted to: the heart expands. Here, again, the Rishis have hidden a divine seed which, given the favourable circumstances, would sprout forth into an all-pervading tree of universal love and charity.
In a happy mood of great rejoicing the village folk move about freely and mix with one another without reserve. All enmity is buried deep under the earth. People embrace each other in fond love. Deepavali is a great unifying factor. Those with keen "inner ears" will clearly hear the Ancients' Voice: "Children of God! Unite! Love all". The vibrations produced by the greetings of love which fill the atmosphere are powerful enough to bring about a change of heart in every man and woman in the world. Alas! This heart has considerably hardened and only a continuous celebration of Deepavali can re-awaken humanity to the urgent need of turning away from the path of ruin.
Rama Rajya can first be established in India alone. It will be India's duty, then, to spread the message of Rama Rajya throughout the world. Deepavali is just a reminder of Rama Rajya. Mythology has it that it is on this sacred day that Sri Rama returned to Ayodhya after destroying the Rakshasas and established Rama Rajya.
In our Rama Rajya (which is brought to our mind's eye by Deepavali) there will be a complete absence of hatred, ill-will or self-aggrandisement. People's hearts will be filled with thoughts of love, charity and selfless service. When these come to stay in the Indian heart, I call that a perpetual celebration of Deepavali! India alone can do it at the present time. For, it is in her soil alone that this seed has been left unscorched.
Merchants turn over a new leaf on this day. They close their accounts and open fresh books. How I wish every Indian "turned over a new leaf", closed the previous year's account of recriminations, reprisals, retaliatory schemes of hatred, ill-will and rancour and opened a fresh book of love! A New Year, and, with that will dawn a new era of peace.
Sri Lakshmi, the Goddess of all auspicious qualities, is worshipped. All the Daivi Sampatti (Divine, virtuous qualities) have their origin in Her alone. She is the source of peace, love and joy. She is the Mother of all, who preserves and protects everyone. On Deepavali day, Goddess Lakshmi is invoked and the devotee prays to Her to bestow all Her choicest blessings in the form of peace and goodwill. He surrenders himself at Her Lotus Feet and seeks Her protection. He gives up the little ego and drinks the nectar of wisdom and love that drips from the Lotuses She holds in Her hands. Lakshmi alone can root out the evil qualities that lurk in man's lower self. O man! Invite Her to occupy the lotus of your heart on this great day so that She can awaken in you the latent powers of love and joy!
Every household is illuminated on this day. Everywhere you look there is light. This is intended to remind man that his essential nature is Light: that the Atman, his own real Self, is the Light of all lights, the Light that lends luminosity to countless suns, moons and stars in the infinite universe. It is ignorance that produces a semblance of darkness!
O man! Awake! Arise! It is Brahmamuhurta now. Sing the Names of the Lord. Worship Goddess Lakshmi, the abode of all virtues. Love all. Be charitable. Turn over a new leaf in the book of your life. Light the lamp of wisdom in your heart and dispel the darkness of ignorance or the perception of name and form! Behold now the Light of Lights–the Atman within yourself!
This is the message which the Seers of India intended to convey through Deepavali celebration: the message of peace and love.