Weekes glad for Divali after pandemic

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

President Paula-Mae Weekes. –

PRESIDENT Paula-Mae Weekes said this year’s resumption of “live” Divali celebrations after two years of virtual events due to the covid19 pandemic demonstrated the festival’s theme of the conquest of good over bad, in her Divali message on Sunday.

She said at Divali, Hindus meet joyously to exchange sweets, gifts and greetings and to offer prayers of thanksgiving and devotion to Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity.

“Later, dazzling arrays of flickering flame in tiny earthen vessels will adorn window-sills and bamboo brackets in houses, business places and public spaces and in some communities, Hindu families dressed in their finery will make their way along the local main road to greet neighbours, friends and even strangers.

“Citizens of every creed and race eagerly take part in the festivities which, after a two-year lull, have restarted with renewed vibrancy and splendour.”

Weekes said Divali preparations such as distributing delicacies and hosting celebrations were done at schools and workplaces, the former as an ideal environment to foster tolerance and appreciation at an early age of the customs of other faiths within TT’s multicultural and multi-religious mosaic.

She welcomed the return of the Divali Nagar, one of the largest celebrations of Divali outside of India, to its iconic venue, as a cultural showcase attended by thousands of Hindus and non-Hindus. “For nine nights, the Nagar site was abuzz with excitement and activity, in stark and gratifying contrast to the virtual stagings of the last two years. Ramleela, the dramatic re-enactment of the Ramayana, also made a welcome reappearance in its usual format, with hundreds of people turning out to view and absorb the epic saga.

“The resumption of the Nagar and Ramleela after the period of pandemic gloom embodies the essential message of Divali — that light will always conquer darkness and good will overcome evil.” Weekes said light was a powerful symbol of knowledge, goodness, guidance, purity and the divine.

“Light can also illuminate and lead the way, expose danger, alleviate fears, warn or repel from danger, reinvigorate and reassure, or reveal truth. When juxtaposed with darkness, it represents hope. “Darkness cannot dispel light, but a single flame can illuminate the blackest night.”

She related that in the original Divali story, jubilant villagers had lit clay lamps to welcome Lord Rama and his wife Sita from exile.

“When we light our deyas tonight, we will not only participate in that custom, but also signal our optimism that times of adversity will be followed by triumph and abundance.

“At Divali, we have the opportunity to engage in a process of self-improvement, enabling us to become lights to others in our various circles, dispelling the darkness of ignorance, injustice and fear.

“May the spirit of Divali illuminate your hearts and homes. I extend to the Hindu community and all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, best wishes for a holy and happy Divali celebration. Shubh Divali!”