I offer warm Divali greetings to our Hindu brothers and sisters throughout Trinidad and Tobago, as I wish everyone a happy, holy, and joyous Divali 2019.
This beautiful celebration, the festival of lights, holds the universal message of the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and hope over despair. During this time, devotees engage in fasting, discipline, prayer, and charity, to demonstrate their devotion to Mother Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity.
The festival also commemorates the return of Shri Ram from his fourteen-year exile, when thousands of deyas were lit to welcome him home. Thousands of years later, our Hindu brothers and sisters celebrate this auspicious occasion by lighting deyas to demonstrate that no matter the situation, no matter the length of time, regardless of the intensity of the difficulty, good will always overcome evil.
Divali teaches us the importance of transcending negative tendencies such as greed, anger, hatred, pride – qualities that can plunge our souls into darkness and our lives into unhappiness. The light from the deyas also teaches us another significant lesson, about unity of purpose. One deya may not be able to light the night sky but when these earthen lamps come together in unison, they produce a light that brightens the darkest of nights
It is so too that we, as a people, in our beloved nation, must unite to overcome the darkness that is plaguing our nation. We must understand that regardless of our social, economic, educational, ethnic or religious backgrounds, we are all blessed with unique individual talents that can be used hand in hand to rebuild our nation.
There is no doubt that our nation is facing darkness which it has never encountered before. Darkness exists in the lives of the thousands without jobs, the thousands who cannot put food on the table or send their children to school, and those who have lost loved ones to crime.
Even though we may be feeling that the darkness is enveloping us, the light of the deya serves as a powerful symbol of hope. When one deya is lit it shines brightly; when another one is lit, it adds to the flame of the other to provide more illumination.
As a people, we must work to bring out the best in each other as when we all perform at our best, both our present and future circumstances will improve. Every citizen has the power to change our current predicament and ensure a successful, prosperous, safe and happy Trinidad and Tobago.
Let us be the light in each other’s lives, working to ensure that our fellow man has a standard of living that we dream of for ourselves. Let us become brighter lights in the lives of the less fortunate, the differently-abled, the abused, the vulnerable and those in need. Let us be the light in the lives of our nation’s youth, ensuring that they have opportunities to maximise their true potential as they are the deyas that will light our future.
With sacrifice, diligence, resolve and a shared vision, we can transform our nation into one that is strong and prosperous once more.
Kamla Persad Bissessar, MP, SC
Political Leader of the United National Congress (UNC)