President David Granger said that as Guyana strives for national unity and social cohesion, there are many important lessons to be learnt from Diwali, an important national Hindu festival, which symbolises love and togetherness.
“I do believe that there are lots of lessons that all Guyanese can learn from the festival of lights, Guyana is blessed to be a country of many religions, Guyana is blessed to be a multi-cultural country… there is so much we can learn from each other,” the Head of State said.
He made these remarks Sunday evening at the Indian Monument Gardens where he and First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger joined with members of the Indian Commemoration Trust (ICT) for the symbolic Diya (lamp) Lighting Ceremony and Cultural Show.
The President said that Diwali has been observed in this country for the 179 years but it became a national holiday about 50 years ago owing to its significance, not only to the Hindu community, but to the country as a whole. “It symbolises the victory of good over evil, it symbolises the victory of light over darkness, it symbolises the victory of hope over despair and I would like to feel that it symbolises the victory of knowledge over ignorance and of prosperity over poverty,” President Granger said.
He added that he is pleased that this festival has become embedded in Guyanese culture, as it is not confined to households and mandirs and informed that this year, State House, the official residence of the Head of State, will be illuminated with diyas on the evening of October 18.
Meanwhile, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Mr. Venkatachalam Mahalingam told the story of Diwali and about the different ways it is observed in North and South India. He also expressed his satisfaction with the fact that Diwali is celebrated with so much fanfare in Guyana and urged Guyanese to use this occasion to recreate the spirit of togetherness.
Diwali is linked to the worship of Mother Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. It is also celebrated in honour of the end of a 14-year exile of Lord Rama after he defeated a vicious demon, hence the spiritual significance of good over evil and light over darkness.
The event also featured a packed cultural show of music and dance by talented local Guyanese artistes. There were also several booths with Indian craft, jewellery and food on sale.