‘Gambling During Diwali!’

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19th October, 2022

Have you ever wondered why a vice, like card playing, is a part of Diwali celebrations?

Does the idea of people going crazy over gambling their wealth on an auspicious occasion like Diwali night make you cringe?

Well, if these are your thoughts, then you are in for some interesting revelations with respect to the tradition of playing cards on Diwali.

From Pujas to house cleaning to dressing up in finery, we walk that extra mile to appease the Goddess of Wealth – Lakshmi – on the Diwali night. But the answer to why a vice like gambling, that took away the wealth of the mighty Pandavas, is practiced like a boon on the festival of lights is based on an old lore.

In Indic cosmogony, Parvati not only plays dice with the universe, she is engaged in an eternal game of winning and losing with Shiva, her partner.

It’s a game spanning the cosmic cycle of creation and destruction, of fragmentation and reunification. It is Cosmic Lila, Divine Play, the Grand Illusion, Maya.

In play, Parvati gets miffed when she thinks Shiva is cheating while Shiva assures her that he is not. Once again the die is cast, there is either passionate reunion or fervent separation and so they play on.

Mythical accounts abound of how Parvati would pay nocturnal visits to her temples to play dice. One such story is set in Kathmandu, where Parvati as the deity Taleju, would play dice with King Jaya Prakash Malla. Whatever be the dynamics of the Shiva-Shakti relationship and extent of play, without their lila, there would be neither phenomenology nor ontology.

Gambling during Diwali is considered auspicious, not the least because it emulates – however weakly – the cosmic interplay of Parvati and Shiva. It’s not about winning or losing but how you play the game.

I love the tradition of gambling. One learns to live with the cards you were dealt with.

People with weak cards but strong hearts, overcome strong cards in the hands of a weak heart. The cards are not in your hands, but in your minds.

Each round brings just one winner and many losers. That is the way of the world. Interestingly, when the next round is dealt, your past does not influence your cards. A new hand of cards is like a new day.

Gambling is about reading people and their intent, in an environment of trust, governed by a set of strict rules.

You learn to calculate risk and understand what is at stake, and quickly make your move.

With every loss, you learn to read body language and learn patterns of people.

In a full game, sometimes you witness people who continue to lose but hang in there and come out winners.

Sometimes huge winnings are squandered away. You learn more about people in a round of gambling than you would in any other interview.

Our wish for you, this Diwali, is that day after day, you are blessed with the gift of strength to stay the course, take audacious risks, learn new lessons, and flourish, so that every day is Diwali.

Play the game well & Stay Blessed forever!