President hosts Diwali 2003 event...
State House envelopes in splendour of lights
By Chamanlall Naipaul
October 23, 2003
Members of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha Nitra Sangh gracefully in resplendent colours performing a traditional Indian dance during the event hosted by the President to mark the observance of Deepavali.
The lawns of State House, Main Street, official residence of the President of Guyana, was enveloped in a splendour of lights late yesterday, with lit diyas (earthen lamps) and the trees brightly illuminated and resplendent with decorative electrical lights, as President Bharrat Jagdeo hosted the local Hindu community in observance of the Festival of Lights, Deepavali or Diwali, which will be officially observed this Saturday.
According to the Master of Ceremony for yesterday's function, Finance Minister Saisnarine Kowlessar the idea of hosting the three major religions in Guyana when they observe special occasions was the "brainchild" of the President as he seeks to bring greater harmony and cohesion in the Guyanese society. Recalling that earlier this year, the President hosted the Christian and Muslim religious communities at similar ceremonies, Kowlessar declared this was the "product of the mind of a caring leader."
Front row L-R Mrs. Reepu Daman Persaud, Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud, President Jagdeo, Prime Minister Sam Hinds and Minister within the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, Ms. Bibi Shadick.
President Jagdeo in his address to the large gathering from both the Hindu and non-Hindu community noting that Deepavali is an important festival of a great religion, but pointed out that while all religious organisations have the same purpose they do not always work in unity, as such he urged religious leaders and bodies to join forces to create a society with better understanding.
He expressed the hope that activities such as the one yesterday would set the tone for greater cooperation among religious groupings, exhorting the gathering that 'in unity lies strength."
Alluding to the universal message of Deepavali-the inevitable triumph of light over darkness, the President stressed that is most important in Guyana where there is so much need for knowledge to triumph over ignorance, reflecting that the Hindu scriptures are replete with situations where good triumphed over evil.
One of the major tasks of the Hindu is to find the truth, the President observed, urging the gathering that sometimes untruth is being peddled without it being challenged. This attitude must be reversed, he said, if society is to be changed for the better.
He observed that not only Guyana is at the cross-roads, but the entire world where there is so much concern that the conflicts worldwide could lead to annihilation of mankind, but in order to stop this trend he emphasised that all must involved in creating the tolerance and understanding that is needed to avoid such a catastrophe.
The President reiterated that his government is sympathetic to the views of religious leaders and their call for spiritual development and upliftment, as such he would inputs from them in character building of children in schools, even though it may not be possible to teach religious studies.
There must be respect and tolerance for all peoples regardless of ethnicity, creed or religion, the President stressed, observing that some in the society will attempt to sow seeds of discord.
Touching on the issue of conciliation, he said some people consider that to be weakness, however, refuting this contention he asserted that instead it is "a sign of being strong," adding that it is sometimes harder to follow the conciliatory road than to adopt strong positions. In the context of Guyana, it is "the only wise thing to do," President Jagdeo added.
However, he cautioned that conciliation does not mean "allowing your rights to be trampled upon," rather it allows for understanding other people which creates the path to greater development.
In wishing all Guyanese a happy Deepavali, the President commended all Guyanese who have contributed towards the preservation of the Hindu culture here, which he said was suppressed during colonial rule, and in this respect paid a special tribute to the President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Reepu Daman Persaud.
Deepavali messages were also delivered from a wide cross-section of the Hindu community, including the Guyana Central Arya Samaj, the Guyana Sanatan Daharma Sabha, the Gandhi Youth Organisation, the Guyana Maha Kali Lakshmi, the University of Guyana Hindu Society, the Guyana Pandits Council, the Cove and John Ashram and the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha.