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Hindu Community in Trinidad celebrates Diwali, the Annual Festival of Lights

Trinidad has been officially celebrating the Diwali holiday since 1966

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Diya on Diwali, Pixabay

– by Paras Ramoutar

Port of Spain, October 30, 2016: Trinidad was lit up on Saturday night as the Hindu community celebrated Diwali, the annual festival of lights, across the country.

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For the past several days, there were celebrations at government offices including the official residence of Prime Minister Keith Rowley.

In an address, President Anthony Carmona noted that Diwali was another opportunity to bring about unity.

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“We need to eradicate the social negatives of crime and sometimes our racial and political intolerance and disharmony. The celebration of Diwali is but one strong example of the religious harmony and unity that exist in our country. The key is for us to ensure that this harmony continues beyond Diwali festivities,” President Carmona added.

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Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar called on the people to drive away darkness with light.

“The enemies we seek to banish are hate, betrayal, jealousy, greed, lust, sickness and mental decay,” Bissessar said.

Newly-accredited Indian High Commissioner Bishwadip Dey said Diwali “gives us an expression of happiness and a sense of attainment. As we light rows of diyas, it is believed we attain good health, wealth, knowledge, peace and happiness. Darkness represents ignorance, and light is a metaphor for knowledge.”

One of the highlights of this year’s ‘Diwali Nagar’ was the opening of a booth by the Indian High Commission which attracted thousands of patrons seeking information on visas, Know India Programme, non-resident Indian and person of Indian-origin cards, and this was the first by any diplomatic mission here.

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India’s Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Villas Paswan, who was visiting Trinidad, addressed the assembly on Wednesday night.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran said that Diwali is a moment for “spiritual renewal of mankind”, as spirituality in the world is on the downward spiral.

“Diwali must counteract this decline with urgency.”

The Indian diaspora here comprises descendants of some 148,000 people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, brought here by the then British rulers between 1845 and 1917 to work on enhancing local agricultural capacity.

The Indian diaspora now forms some 42 percent of the 1.3 million population of Trinidad and Tobago. (IANS)

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Fireworks Might Extinguish the Flame of Laxmi Puja

We can have various kind of festival enjoyments on Festivals but without ever causing problem to others and the environment

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Fireworks
There is no mention in any corners of the voluminous scriptures of Fireworks blasting during a PUJAS that “upset” the harmony of peace and tranquility of others. Pixabay

BY SALIL GEWALI

If one wants to connect Hindu culture with the senseless bursting of crackers and boisterous fun then he is absolutely wrong. There is no mention in any corners of the voluminous scriptures of Fireworks blasting during a PUJAS that “upset” the harmony of peace and tranquility of others. To disturb others’ tranquility falls under the heading of vices. Preserving the sanctity of the environment, and more importantly, inner purity of mind and heart is the “prime doctrine” of SANATAN DHARMA which is popularly known as Hinduism. This Hindu culture now seemingly run the risk of having been defined by other communities with what is not very pleasant to hear.

Fireworks
It should not be misunderstood ever that Hinduism disapproves of all kinds of fun and frolic. No, it is never so.  We can have various kind of festival enjoyments but without ever causing problem to others and the environment without Using Fireworks.

I’ve overheard many toxic comments against this blatant desecration of auspicious “puja celebrations”. During Holi festival, many people fear to move out of their homes, particularly in certain the plane areas in India. You might be blasted with a bucketful of dirty water by pranksters from the 5th floor of the building. Is this sadism the part of the puja and holi celebration? One is afraid, with each passing year, this festival of color of joy, though having strong spiritual significance, has only painted the very face of Hindu culture with vulgarity and depravity.

Fireworks
If one wants to connect Hindu culture with the senseless bursting of crackers, Fireworks and boisterous fun then he is absolutely wrong.

Matter of fact, peace in one’s life and his efforts to help bring peace in others’ lives is essentially the fundamental basis of Hindu culture and festivals. Practically speaking, there is no devotion to God without “peace”.  Therefore, “Shanti” (peace) is one of the most paramount peace mantras in Sanskrit, not “Ashanti” which, of late, is the hallmark of such Hindu puja celebrations. The profound objective behind this peace mantra, as propounded in Upanishads, inspired even one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century – TS Eliot who underlined it with the purpose of life which he brought out in his epic poem – The Waste Land. That poem finally ends with the same peace mantra — Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Fireworks
TS Eliot who underlined it with the purpose of life which he brought out in his epic poem – The Waste Land.

It should not be misunderstood ever that Hinduism disapproves of all kinds of fun and frolic. No, it is never so.  We can have various kind of festival enjoyments but without ever causing problem to others and the environment. There are sufficient mentions of fun and frolic, merrymaking even in the spiritual activities — like Krishna LilaRam Lila…; and there exist endless nritya shashtras for healthy recreation. But they all are within the “purview of Dharma”. Ancient sages in their meditation conceived and authored a number of treatises in which we find the elaborate approaches and procedures to evolve oneself spiritually through fun-filled dances and music. There are “ragas and layas” (musical modes and rhythm), which are meant to “recharge” the mind for the meditative concentrationThe objective behind being to climb up the ladders of realization of oneness and universal uniformity.

Fireworks
There are sufficient mentions of fun and frolic, merrymaking even in the spiritual activities — like Krishna Lila, Ram Lila…; and there exist endless nritya shashtras for healthy recreation and not Fireworks. But they all are within the “purview of Dharma”.

However, there is absolutely no scope or prescription for deriving pleasure or fun by causing pain and anxieties to others? How come bursting high decibel fireworks at 2 AM or 3 AM or 4 AM is puja? In fact, it is called “adharma” or irreligion leading to self-degeneration.

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Therefore, it is DIYA, as per Vedas, which symbolizes the LIGHT to dispel the darkness of ignorance, the darkness of vices, and bring forth the light of knowledge to awake the “inherent” divinity. Goddess Laxmi is the “flame” of feminine ENERGY in the infinite cosmic creation. So, indulging in earsplitting fireworks and causing continuous problem to HER creatures, and HER environment, is totally against the fundamental principle of the devotion in Hinduism. Very sadly, with the blasting of the fireworks in the name of Goddess Laxmi we have invariably set off the tank of vices alone.

Salil Gewali is a well-Known Writer and Author of ‘Great Minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali