Festivals are an integral part of Hinduism. 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 and this sacred festival has deep significance.
Deepavali is synonymous with Lakshmi Puja; homage to the Goddess Maha Lakshmi, whom the Vedas describe as the eternal source of fortune, abundance and 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 by Bhagwan Krishna.
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 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 JyotirGamaya”
This year, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha hosted a virtual Diwali Motorcade which connected thousands of Guyanese and others of all walks of lifeacross the world. It would inconceivable to have Diwali without Dharmic Sabha’s motorcades as they occupy a special place in the hearts of all Guyanese and this year we recaptured the spirit of the motorcades virtually as well as some outstanding performances from phenomenal artistes.
From an economic perspective
Deepavali is celebrated a time when historically the commercial 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 humanity 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 encounter.
As we observe this Diwali, I would like to remind all 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. 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 negative practices so that Guyana will always be a country of unity, peace and prosperity.
I am delighted to extend greetings to all on this festive occasion and look forward to an infinite number of years of Guyana continuing to celebrate 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. Let the light of Deepavali burn infinitely, eliminating darkness in all its forms and fusing us in a bond of love, respect and unity. ShubhDeepavali to all.