Deepavali or the 'festival of lights', which is celebrated this month in India, should also be considered a festival of thanksgiving. It is a time when we can welcome the symbolic homecoming of Ram and Sita out of exile, back to their rightful kingdom and way of life. Ram's exile of fourteen years was a time of deprivation and great trials, but he overcame all adversities to return to his home triumphantly.
We may think that all this happened long ago, and perhaps even on another level of time and space. For many of us, the Ramcharitamanas is a beautiful and inspiring legend, but hardly applicable to today's world. This however, is where we are wrong. Every day we are given trials and tribulations which test our faith, strength, will and character; and permit us to develop a more spiritual way of life. The only things that are possibly missing are the colourful details - kidnappings, ten-headed monsters, flying monkeys, and the exciting battles fought between 'good' and 'evil' forces.
Life may seem mundane, but by taking up the daily challenges, we make our own exciting world; internally and externally. Through yoga we come to face ourselves, seeing our faults and good points, changing what we can and accepting what we can't. At the same time we learn to selflessly serve others, thereby serving God and his cosmos. Not by rituals alone, but by yoga, do we obtain the supreme blessing.
Therefore, while lighting the jyotis for Ram's homecoming, light also that flame in your heart, and pray that the un-flickering flame shall forever burn to inspire and guide you in all your daily duties. In the same way, this true yoga performed by Ram, led him to his rightful place - at one with the Lord.