Isha Yoga Center was in a festive and colorful mood on Diwali (26 October), with an overflow of volunteers, their families, and other guests who came to the foothills of Velliangiri to celebrate Diwali. Known as the “festival of lights,” Diwali is celebrated with great exuberance across India and takes its name from the tradition of lamp lighting in the evening, a symbol of inner awakening. Everyone had plenty of activities to choose from as the day progressed, beginning at 8am with celebrations and distribution of sweets to local villages. This was accompanied by a mobile version of Sounds of Isha, which brought their thumping drum beats from village to village via an open lorry loaded with half a dozen percussion enthusiasts and their instruments.

As the time for the morning meal approached, visitors made their way to the Biksha hall, which was dressed up for the occasion with beautiful rangolis at the entrance and delicate strands of coconut and mango leaves strung from the ceiling. After brunch, ladies headed down to the Spanda hall pavilion for the “Mehendi Mela.” Known most commonly around the world as “henna tattoos,” these intricate designs, typically drawn on the hands and feet of ladies, are a key feature of festivals and celebrations in India.

The rain did not stop the games offered in the afternoon, whipped into a frenzy by the steady presence of music and song. Guided by our enthusiastic coordinator, who needed a mike to be heard over the joyful shouts and cheers, the games ended with a playful six-way tug-of-war.

Volunteers and residents made their way to the Nandi, where they gathered to adorn the Dhyanalinga and Linga Bhairavi temples with hundreds of small oil lamps. The rains that had pummeled the ashram grounds earlier in the day gave way to tranquil clouds which reflected the rays of the setting sun, a foretaste of the glow that would soon surround the temple. Seeing the Dhyanalinga fully lit up during Diwali was a moving experience, indicative of its role in creating a world full of love, light and laughter.

The venue of the evening event, the Tarana auditorium in Isha Home School, was beautifully outlined with hundreds of candles, giving this festival of lights an elegant touch. Guests, volunteers and residents all settled down to take part in the evening Darshan, which was followed by Sadhguru’s Diwali message.

With a skip in their step and smiles on their faces, Isha Samskriti children perform ‘Kolattam’ a traditional harvest dance in Tamil Nadu.

After that, the two Kalari masters of Samskruti displayed their mastery with a performance using kataras – dagger-like weapons unique to South Asia. One of the masters was disarmed, and he could only save himself by deflecting his opponent’s arms with his bare hands, all the while evading the knife-thrusts.

Ashram residents performed a skit with elaborate costumes and evocative dialogues that highlighted the nuances and intricacies of Tamil poetry.

A Thillana in Tarana. Samskriti students perform a Thillana – a specialty of Carnatic music and dance.

Sounds of Isha then ended the evening with an encore of music and drumming that ignited the audience into exuberance and dance!