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May a million smiles light up homes and hearts

Venkat Raman
Auckland, November 4, 2021

As we have mentioned before, we live in a world that is in the grip of a pandemic, destroying economies, careers of people and claiming millions of lives, with no abatement in sight.

A world that is troubled, tormented and turbulent awaits a season that besets people in a festive mode, forgetting for a while at least their bellicose tendencies and rejoice.

A world that constantly witnesses natural and manmade disasters looks upon that period of the year when men and women ignore their differences and come together to share a few moments of laughter.

A world that triggers more hatred than love welcomes festivities that would motivate even adversaries to lay down their arms and embrace each other in friendship.

In short, we look forward to that time of the year when there is more hope than despair, more light than darkness and more guffaws than wails.

Hindus throughout the world are marking Diwali, the Festival of Lights, today.

In about seven weeks from now, the Christian community would mark Christmas.

And people from a number of other faiths would also observe their annual feasts.

Promoting Peace for humanity

What does that mean?

Quite simply the fact that all of us were born to live together in peace and harmony and not to fight, challenge and destroy each other.

The festive season denotes the triumph of good over evil so that ordinary people like us could lead a life of contentment and happiness.

And that is what each of us should strive and achieve.

While we should preserve our values, we should also allow others to mark the occasion with whole-hearted cooperation.

Next year would be different- that is our hope and prayer.

When asked to explain why Diwali is known as ‘The Festival of Lights,’ a four-year-old girl said, “There is light everywhere-of lamps, of crackers, of streets and of cars. None of us seems to sleep, for everyone is busy visiting family and friends and exchanging sweets. Where there is no darkness, there has to be light. Hence the name for the festival.”

Puerile it may be but the little girl’s perception of the Festival was nonetheless correct; that there was no darkness and that there was no sorrow. Fun, frolic and gaiety everywhere. That in essence is Diwali.

Diwali heralds a new era of progress and prosperity and this year the Festival has been cancelled in New Zealand. However, the spirit of Diwali cannot be subdued. We are celebrating ‘virtually’ and enjoying the company of people online

Diverse Concepts

The fact that even a festival has diverse concepts speaks a lot for the variety of beliefs and practices that characterises the Indian society and of course the Indian Diaspora.

It is this diversity, which in itself seeks unity of thought and purpose.

Ask any ethnic Indian, irrespective of his or her social disposition or even place of birth, you will know that somewhere along that composite lineage rests a bond that would perhaps date back a few decades or even centuries. It is such a bond that transcends time and space, making the young and old feel they belong to one hold, one community and one family.

The Indian Diaspora has carried the tradition to its countries of domicile and despite modern ways of thinking and living, Diwali is celebrated around the world.

The impact that the festival has on children must be seen to be believed.

Family reunion is still in vogue in India, where children are sent a day ahead to their home of their grandparents or to those of their immediate relatives.

All of us raise the hope that things will be better and happier.

Although Covid has all of us subdued, the spirit of Diwali will remain alight.

Happy Diwali!

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