After aeons of darkness, the omnipotent God in all His wisdom designed a pattern to redress a chaotic situation which prevailed in the emptiness of the Universe. The Earth which was originally a formless planet would no longer be kept suspended in absolute darkness, as a useless cosmic structure that would not provide a suitable terrestrial environment to sustain life which He proposed to create and preserve.
Genesis narrates that the light of God was created on the first day by “the word”, spoken command of the Almightly – “Que la lumiere soit”.
The Sun was born in the heaven on the fourth day. Science explains the origin of light by the Big Bang theory which was postulated in 1930. An explosion of immeasurable magnitude released energy in the form of light which bathed our planet.
The scriptures and other holy books give allegorical explanations on the creation of light. Hindu mythology narrates that light originated from the eyes of Brahma, the Supreme Being. Hindus still pay respect to the Sun God for showering his blessings in the form of sunrays on our planet, a tradition instituted by their forefathers.
In ancient Egypt, the Sun God RA was venerated “for sustaining life brought by the water of the Nile”. The following hymn of praise was dedicated to RA for illuminating the world.
“Love for you fills the land when your rays fill the eyes
You are the well-being of all when you arise”.
In the pre-Christian era, the Sun God Mithras was one of the most influential Deities in the whole of Europe. The celebration of Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ coincides with the date of glorification of this God.
These facts confirm that civilizations have paid tribute to light through mythology in the course of their evolution.
Science brought new evidence on the origin of light when Faraday discovered that it was a form of energy, known as electromagnetic waves, emitted by the sun and perceived by our eyes as sunlight after a complex physiological process. It travels through the Cosmos at the incredible speed of 300,000km/sec to reach our planet in 8 minutes – a speed that no moving body has been able to match.
Distant stars as a source of natural light have in the past guided famous explorers and traders in reaching their destination.
Before the invention of electricity, the human being used different flammable substances to produce artificial light. Many students who became eminent personalities have studied by candlelight.
Light has intriguing physical properties which produce nature’s greatest illusions. The reflection of light on rain drops forms one of the most spectacular visual effects, the wonderful rainbow in the sky which we always watch with amazement. Refraction produces the illusion of “the bent stick” in water or simulates pools of water in the desert, an effect which nomads are familiar with.
Without light, we would not have been able to appreciate the colours and hues of different flowers and plants, a reward of nature to the human kind.
Scientific inventions have used sources of light to bring improvement in the field of medicine and visual entertainment.
High performance telescopes have enabled astronomers to open other avenues of looking in the distant past by watching galaxies as they were millions of years ago.
Men and Women of high spiritual values have their own way of appreciating light which they have described as “the light that illuminates the mind.”
In a few days the Hindu community will be celebrating Divali, the festival of lights in remembrance of prince Ram, symbol of righteousness, after his victory over the Demon King Ravan representing evil in human form. To overcome darkness lights were lit to illuminate his path back home.
Divali is a festival that transcends religious beliefs. With this in mind may I take this opportunity to wish all Mauritians a Happy Divali.
“Fiat Lux” – let there be light in the homes, hearts and minds of all our compatriots.
* Published in print edition on 17 Ocotober 2014