Happy New Year! Today marks the first day of the Indian new year. Yesterday was the festival of Diwali (dee-vaah-lee) or Deepavali (deep-uh-vaah-lee) – the festival of lights. Deepa means light and avali means a continuous line.
Diwali celebrates the return of Lord Rama back home after a 14 year period of exile. The residents of Ayodhya (I-yo-the-yah) celebrated his homecoming by lighting rows and rows of lights. Rama symbolizes the past of righteousness or dharma. His return is a metaphor for the victory of our good over evil, light over darkness. Indians celebrate Diwali by wearing new clothes and honoring the goddess Lakshmi (luck-shmee), the goddess of prosperity. Traditionally, Indians celebrate new year’s by going to their local temple first thing in the morning, starting off the year on a reverential note and receiving blessings for the coming year. The first money spent that year is an offering to a temple or some charity, to begin the year with an act of giving. Women cook and share sweets with friends and family. Sweets stand for the sweetness in life, which we all savor. Sukhadi (soo-khuh-dee)- a sweet made from butter, jaggery and wheat flour is usually cooked and offered for the New Year.
There is not the tradition of pressuring ourselves to make and keep new year’s resolutions. Resolutions are great, but if we become resolute in setting impossible standards for ourselves, just so we can share it with others, and then talk later about how we didn’t quite live up to it, and start the same story over again. Some people are quite successful with their resolutions, but these people are committed to a goal and set reasonable, measurable, and achievable goals for themselves.
The first three items purchased in the new year in a traditional Indian household are moong beans, yogurt and salt.
Since this is not the New Year as marked by the Roman calendar, it may be a good time to start cultivating healthy habits, to prepare us for the holiday season, to get a head start on those new year’s resolutions, and to take the pressure off sharing the list with others.
It’s time to take a good look at your health, especially with Thanksgiving fast approaching. Thanksgiving can often be the time when we over-stuff ourselves. How is your vitality, your digestion? What’s the condition of your joints? Any aches and pains in the body? Have you had repeated colds, sinus congestion, or cough? What about your weight? Be honest with yourself without being judgmental.
Is it time to check your blood pressure, cholesterol, or thyroid? Do you need to see your chiropractor, acupuncturist or massage therapist for that back pain? What about getting some energy work done to take care of that stress? When’s the last time that you saw your naturopath, homeopath, Ayurvedic practitioner, Chinese medicine doctor, or other holistic practitioner? How long do you want to stay on that prescription medicine that your allopath is suggesting? What about using natural means to heal so that you can lower your frequency or dosage and show your allopathic doctor that a medical condition is not a life sentence? Can you commit to a regular form of exercise? How about joining a gym? Find an exercise buddy. Get a pedometer and strive for at least 10,000 footsteps a day. Buy a yoga pass for a series of classes at your favorite yoga studio. Sign up for some dance classes … from ballroom to belly. Can you hire a personal trainer for at least a few sessions? Exercise and diet go hand in hand and it would also be wise to re-examine your dietary habits (or lack thereof).
If you’re usually prone to winter colds and congestion, then how about seeing your holistic practitioner to discuss what can be modified in advance this year?
Any health care professional will tell you that the earlier that you catch an illness in the disease process, the easier it is to treat, and generally, the shorter the healing time.
Put your health on your “to do” list and make it a priority. If there’s some niggling problem or something that you’ve been putting off, wait no more. Take charge of your health. Take time for yourself. In the ancient Ayurvedic texts, one form of wealth is defined as good health. Get healthy & wealthy.