Deepavali is all embracing – says Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha
Festivals are an integral part of Hinduism. Each of our festivals is associated with our scriptures. Deepavali, a national holiday, stands as one of the loveliest festivals on our calendar. It is observed annually on Amawasya (New Moon) in the lunar, Hindu month of Kartik. The word Deepavali means cluster of lights. The festival has deeper significance than the word suggests.
Deepavali is synonymous with Lakshmi Puja, where homage is paid to the Goddess Maha Lakshmi, whom the Vedas describe as the eternal source of fortune and abundance. Lakshmi Puja is done not simply to seek material benefits, but equally spiritual upliftment.
The observance extends over a 5 day period which begins on the 13th day of the dark half of Kartik, when a single diya is lit with a prayer for longevity. The second day an increased number is kindled, celebrating the defeat of Narkasur, a despot who disrespected and confined women.
Bhagwan Krishna brought his reign of tyranny to an end. Diwali is celebrated on the third day and the light dispersed by millions of diyas dispels every form of darkness. The next day, “pratipada” in the bright half of Kartik, Goverdhan puja is performed followed by the final day of Bhai Duj. On the final day, sisters tie a thread on the wrists of their brothers renewing their love.
The festival of Deepavali has philosophical, economic and social dimensions. Its social construct involves families and communities engaged in lighting diyas and meeting in a spirit of refreshing cordiality and joy. Deepavali threatens darkness in all its names and forms and influences the emergence of an illuminated society in which there exists understanding, mutual respect, love and harmony. The principal prayer at this time – “Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya”, from darkness, lead us unto light, sends the signal of hope, expectation and optimism.
The Diwali Motorcade hosted by the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, is unique to Guyana and brings thousands of Guyanese of all walks of life together in a visible display of unity, peace and happiness across the country.
The magnificent illuminated vehicles which display the artistry and creativity of Guyanese feature hundreds of young persons depicting various aspects of Lakshmi and divinity and reflects the myriad significances of the festival.
This almost 4 decade old tradition is eagerly anticipated throughout the country as motorcades are held in all the counties with the largest moving along the scenic seawall. It would inconceivable to have Diwali without Dharmic Sabha’s motorcades as they occupy a special place in the hearts of all Guyanese.
From an economic perspective. Deepavali is celebrated a time when historically the commercial community closed their books and opened new accounts. The Hindu perception of “VASUDEVA KUTUMBAKAM”, the universe is one family, fits in admirably with the emphasis on global vision and coherent action for the elimination of poverty and the construction of a world where humankind can live in a totally equitable atmosphere. Deepavali engenders prosperity and economic stability, emphasizing prayers for success, and disciplined and hard work towards goals and material gains.
A deeper spiritual consciousness is rekindled by the festival. Hindus believe that every individual is a particle of the Divine and that inherent in all of us is that divine spark which, so often, is dormant and needs to be reawakened. The little diyas or earthen lamps symbolize that light within and reminds us to diligently search for it. For when that light is found, it illuminates our lives and spreads to all those whom we come in contact with.
President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, Dr. Vindhya Vasini Persaud is delighted to extend greetings to all on this festive occasion and looks forward to an infinite number of years of Guyanese continuing to join together in celebrating this beautiful festival in a manner that can be emulated by the world. It is a heartwarming reminder of how beautifully we celebrate our diversity through respect for each other’s traditions, cultures and beliefs.
As we observe this Diwali, she would like to remind that, Deepavali can make the most profound impact in a negative environment as it creates a climate conducive to reflections, fraternity, goodwill and mutual respect for each other. Dr. Vindhya Persaud says, “As we celebrate, let us continue our drive and advocacy for the empowerment and protection of children, women and the vulnerable against violence and abuse, equal opportunity for all, a safer and secure country, protection of citizens’ rights and welfare, and economic progress and abundance for all Guyanese. These must remain prominent on our agenda. As a people, we must resolve to rid our society of acrimony, injustice and undemocratic practices so that Guyana will always be a country of unity, peace and prosperity. I am happy to share these joyous moments of love and cordiality with all Guyanese. Let the light of Deepavali burn infinitely, eliminating darkness in all its forms and fusing us in a bond of love, respect and unity. Shubh Deepavali Greetings to all.”