11/01/2013 05:27 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Deepvali: Enlightenment Through the Festival of Lights

At this time of the year as Mother Nature displays a stunning palette of shimmering colors -- from bronze to russet to burnished yellow to ochre and the most subtle shades of green -- Hindus celebrate DEEPAVALI/DIWALI or the Festival of Lights with its own colorful and meaningful promise. During this festive season, the autumn foliage and the serene mood is enhanced by decorations with fancy diyas (little clay pots) and candles, rangoli (floor art work) sparkling fireworks, delicious gourmet food, ravishing outfits, joy and lots of bon homie!! The most important aspect of the celebration is the fundamental importance of pooja -- prayer and worship. During Deepavali prayers are offered to God Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and for auspicious beginnings and Goddess Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity. The inherent meaning of Deepavali, its basic symbol, is conveyed through the worship and use of Light. As in various other religions Light is a unifying symbol to spread the message of peace and prosperity and global harmony.

Come out into the universe of Light.
Everything in the universe is yours, stretch out your arms and embrace it with love.
-Swami Vivekananda

Historically, Deepavali has its origins in the Ramayana -- one of the most important epic works in ancient Indian literature. It is ascribed to sage Valmiki dating back to 5th and 4th century BCE. Today it forms the cultural consciousness of Hindus all over the world and deeply regarded by scholars, philosophers and educators from various disciplines as an epic of international stature. Ramayana, on the surface, tells the story of Rama, his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and devotee Hanuman, starting from childhood, fourteen years of exile in the forest and finally the triumphant return to his Kingdom of Ayodha. The underlying, deeper message is the significance of triumph of Good over Evil. It embodies the concept of universal human values -- love in its many manifestations, devotion in many forms, sacrifice at all levels, harmony among all and peace upon the earth.

Ramayana considered an important literary works is fully and deeply relevant today. Through the ages it has had a profound impact on art and culture primarily in the Indian subcontinent and south Asia but in more recent times, due to migration, it has spread all over the world. The essence of Ramayana is expressed or interpreted through many art forms -- literature, poetry, painting, sculpture, temple engravings, puppetry, film, textiles, dance and drama. The epic story has been performed through the ages and all over the world and now, as part of the Diwali celebration, coming to the Washington, D.C. metro area, for the very first time, is a production of the prestigious Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, based in New Delhi India.

RAMAYANA: A Dance Drama will be performed at the Schlesinger Music and Arts Center, Alexandria, VA
SUNDAY, November 10, 2013 at 4:00 p.m.
For information call Manjula Kumar - 703.448.9658