May a billion lamps brighten the world, foster the fraternal bond

(Image courtesy: Pinterest)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, October 15, 2022

Marcus Westinghouse lives a few miles away from the Auckland region but has never missed the Diwali festivities held in Auckland city, saying, “I have never seen so many people in so many colourful clothes so happy.”

Bridgette Freeman believes the Festival of Lights is the best thing that happened to ‘a city that has for decades known nothing but Rugby, Cricket and America’s Cup.’ “At last, there is something more tangible than ‘getting hurt on the field or water.”

The binding factor

George Ratnanayake says that Diwali may have had its roots in his native Sri Lanka, which was ruled by Ravana whose destruction led to the ‘annual holiday,’ but the “festival appears to have acquired wider support in New Zealand than one could imagine.”

Marcus, Bridgette and George represent three different and divergent ethnic groups, each following its own beliefs and practices, but brought together by one occasion in a country that gave a passing glance to the festival until a few years ago.

If Diwali has firmly planted itself on the social and community calendar of New Zealand, drawing more than 100,000 people in Auckland and at least 80,000 people in Wellington and 50,000 people or more in Christchurch and other cities, there has to be something special to the festival.

Diwali may have different connotations to the Indian Diaspora, reflecting the diversity of practices and customs that are typical of India; and yet it epitomises a common theme: peace to the world and prosperity to humanity.

It is the beginning of the end of all evil and the beginning of all that is good. It brings new hopes, aspirations and dreams into a world that is wreathed in trouble, tribulation and turmoil.

Diwali has long lost its religious significance, at least in the case of a majority of people who celebrate the festival. Gone are the days of discourses, street plays and folklore (we would stand corrected if it is still in vogue at least in rural India) that symbolised a vibrant society and the onset of happier days.

But the social and community connotation has had a fillip, bringing together people, including those who do not celebrate Diwali as a festival at home.

Perhaps that was the original intention and import.

A Social Festival

What is a festival or a social event if it did not foster a fraternal bond among people?

This is perhaps why Diwali remains the single largest and most widely celebrated festival in the world, with the increasing participation of heads of state, lawmakers, politicians, community and social leaders and people of other faiths.

From Canada to New Zealand, the Festival of Lights spreads happiness and goodwill among Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists – in fact, people of every faith and disposition, regardless of their social and economic status.

There is a certain unifying factor and catholicity to Diwali that has become a source of endearment and joy to men, women and children, instilling in them a sense of anxiety and excitement year after year.

Greetings from us

Forget the troubles of the world.

Leave your worries for another day, another time.

Ignore all those terrorists and mischief-makers for a while.

This is the season to give, take and enjoy.

With friends, colleagues and of course family.

This is Diwali time.

It is that season of joy and fun, ringing out the old and bringing in the new.

Think for a moment that the world has no woes, no foes.

Think of another moment when men and women know no sorrow, only a bright morrow.

Think forever that the world would become a better place to live, and to love.

Then read this special Diwali 2006 again and again and again.

It has colour, beauty, fun, entertainment and something to ponder.

It has never been this big but can get better next time.

Until then, be happy, be healthy and most important, be with us.

Because together we have grown and will continue to do so.

With best wishes,

-The Indian Newslink team

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