Diwali 2022: Diwali symbolises upholding, sustaining peaceful society

…President says cannot sustain a unified Guyana if values are not upheld

President Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday emphasised the importance of upholding basic tenants of society such as peace and unity, which he said are integral concepts in sustaining a nation.

President Dr Irfaan Ali speaking at the National Diya Light-up

The Head of State made this remark on Sunday evening at the 8th annual National Diya Light-up hosted by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh/Hindus for Selfless Service (HSS) at Rahaman’s Park, Greater Georgetown, ahead of Monday’s observance of Diwali or Deepavali.
President Ali drew inspiration from the words uttered by Head of HSS Guyana, Ravi Dev, who stressed that not just one group but a collective effort from all Guyanese is needed to bring “goodness” in society so that Guyana can reach its full potential. According to Dev, this is one of the most important lessons that Dharma, which is the religious and moral law governing individual conduct in Hinduism, teaches.
“Dharma is that which upholds and that which sustains… So, whatever you’re talking about, yourself, your life – if you’re talking about your village, if you’re talking about your community, if you’re talking about this nation, if you’re talking about the world – it’s very easy to say what should you do if you follow Dharma, which is, ask if your action, will it uphold society, will it uphold our nation, will it sustain our nation? If the answer is yes, do it and if the answer is no, then abjure from your practice,” the HSS Head posited.
Flowing from this, President Ali shared that the concept of “upholding and sustaining” is critical to every aspect of national, and even global, life. He noted that if there is nothing to uphold then will be nothing to sustain.
As Guyana embarks on celebrating this festival which symbolises “light over darkness”, the Head of State said there are a number of things in Guyana and the world that must be upheld.


“We must uphold peace. We must uphold the rule of law. We must uphold our devotion. We must uphold our love for humanity. We must uphold our values and principles that allow us to demonstrate our love for humanity. We must uphold standing up for justice. We must uphold doing what is right in a global environment where what is wrong is so easy to succumb to.”
President Ali further outlined that a unified Guyana – One Guyana – cannot be sustained if citizens do not uphold the values that make them Guyanese or collectively uphold the ability to stand up for the truth, represent what is right and reject what is wrong. Similarly, he noted that the country cannot be sustained in a unified way if its people do not uphold the Constitution and rule of law.
“What are we trying to sustain and uphold? We’re trying to uphold and sustain a society that is wedded in peace, that presents hope to its people, and that brings dignity to life that you live within that society. And this is exactly what Diwali symbolises.
“It is the removal of darkness and introduction of hope. It is the removal of indignity and bringing dignity into every aspect of our life and what we do, and in the creation of hope and dignity, the end product is achieving a peaceful society, a peaceful home, a peaceful inner being. If we are not at peace, we cannot show peace. If the environment in which we live in does not project peace, then we cannot demonstrate peace,” he stated.
The Guyanese leader went on to note that the lighting of Diyas in observance of Diwali is just the physical aspect of the auspicious festival. Rather, he stressed, it is the inner light within oneself that must also be illuminated in celebrating the Festival of Light.
When this happens, according to the President, people can see the image of peace, calmness, hope and dignity that one exudes.
“These are the critical aspects when we speak about the importance of Diwali. It speaks to both renewal, renewal of ourselves, renewal of our belief system, renewal of our commitment towards each other as human beings. Renewal of what we represent, a renewal of hope, a renewal of the spirit that binds us together. That is why [Diwali is not a one day] event because we are all weak and we need a period through which we can be renewed, through which our spirits can be renewed, through which our body and our society and our community can be renewed. And this is another important aspect when you celebrate Diwali,” the Head of State said.
Moreover, President Ali also spoke of the collective need to cleanse society of attributes that are negative such as racism and other scourges that hinder national unity. To this end, he underscored the importance of education and social programmes such as Sunday’s Diya Light-up that displayed the rich culture of Hindus. The event was organised by the young members of HSS and saw performances by young people from various organisations.
According to the Guyanese leader, the country needs more displays such as this. He added that these important platforms allow the country to project the message and the embodiment of what society needs to create, and how each culture and religion can contribute towards the achieving “One Guyana”.
“There are many paths that we can create in life. But Diwali teaches us the lesson and demonstrate the paths that must be created. When we speak about life overcoming darkness, it is light creating a way through darkness that is different from what darkness offers. It is not just the physical life; it is removing what light offers against what darkness offers. So, it’s having hope over [fear]. It is having knowledge over ignorance. It is having freedom over bondage. It is having unity over division. That is what the light must be able to create… Today, as we will turn the lights on, let’s also turn our hearts into moments of reflection and examine what small or big change may be necessary in achieving this part that we also want for our beautiful country and for our families,” President Ali stated. (G8)