What is the “Festival of Light?”


I hear mention of the "Festival of Light" ceremony practiced on Sunday Mornings. What is it? What is the genesis of the ceremony and how much of it comes from the teachings of "Master".

—WE Benshoof, Southern California


Dear W.E.,

Thank you for your question about the “Festival of Light.” It is a ceremony which we celebrate at the close of every Ananda Sunday Service. It was created by Swami Kriyananda in 1987.

This beautiful and inspiring ceremony summarizes the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda and our line of Gurus, in the form of music, poetry, stories, prayers, and an individual blessing at the end called the “touch of Light.”

How much of it comes from the teachings of Master? All of it! Swami Kriyananda explains a little more about it in his own words:

Swami Kriyananda: Spiritual ceremonies are used as symbols that help remind us of deep inner states of God-consciousness.

They also provide a way of uniting people and helping them realize that they’re working together spiritually. Many times people meditate in a group, but don’t realize that they have a responsibility to the whole. But this isn’t true. When all minds are focused together, then everyone’s consciousness is able to rise.

The Festival of Light offers the core teachings of our path in a concise way. The Sunday Services that we give cover a vast number of subjects which apply to the spiritual path. But The Festival of Light brings out the core of what we stand for in a moving way, in a way that involves people, and in a way that they’ll remember.

When you have something that’s rhythmic, with images that are really alive and well thought out in advance, people will continue to remember a particular phrase weeks later after the ceremony.

In the Festival it says: “Oh, children of light, forsake the darkness.” People go away saying, “You know, that’s right, I am a child of the light. I’m not a child of darkness.”

A ceremony such as this helps us to remember that what we are receiving is not a philosophy, but a ray of light from the Divine. We go to the altar to participate, to receive that light, and we go away remembering that it’s the grace of the Masters that changes our lives.

We also remember our own responsibility on the path, of why we ought to be instruments for this light. When we are able to take part in this whole movement with deepening self-offering, we begin to be drawn into its heart.