I am delighted to send best wishes to my fellow citizens on the joyous occasion of Diwali.
As people across our beloved nation gather to illuminate their homes, their communities and their hearts, I wish Mother Lakshmi’s blessings on each and every one of you and your loved ones.
We are at a time in our country when we need to remember that good will always be victorious, that hope and love triumph over darkness and despair.
We must remain hopeful and trust that our prayers will be answered and our faith will not go in vain.
Festivals like Diwali, Eid ul Fitr and Christmas bring with them feelings of joy and hope. Joy comes from our personal participation in the festival’s activities, in the togetherness and unity in families and communities, in the food and other delicacies, in the enjoyment of the music and dance which are all part of the cultural aspects of the festival.
Our nation comes to life with each festival, and the joy that we experience at these times helps us cope with the stresses of daily living and reminds us that we are capable of being joyful human beings.
But perhaps more significant is the fact that the message of the festival is one of hope, the hope that good will triumph over evil, that there is light at the end of the darkest tunnel, that God, in whatever manifestation, is a true friend who responds to sincere prayer and self-effort.
Where hope is lost, people and nations perish.
The story of the emergence of Mother Lakshmi the giver of prosperity, light and wisdom is therefore significant. With the loss of power to demons, the gods approached the Supreme God to find a solution to their powerlessness. They were told to churn the ocean of milk to secure the jar containing the nectar of immortality.
To do so they were advised to cooperate with the demons, which they did, and began to churn the ocean using a great mountain as the churning stick and the snake Vasuki as the rope.
Through cooperation, they succeeded. However before the goal was reached in the process of churning the mountain being used as the churning stick began to sink.
God did not sit by as a spectator to their plight. He manifested as a tortoise and used his back to hold up the mountain so that the work of churning could continue.
Deadly poisons first came out of the ocean and thereafter mother Lakshmi and the jar containing the nectar of immortality emerged. The demons out of greed wanted the nectar all for themselves. The Supreme Lord intervened and the gods were once again restored to power.
The story of the emergence of Lakshmi is the eternal message that good eventually prevails. It is the eternal story that in our own minds, the forces of good and evil are also at work. Taken to the level of the nation, good and evil are also struggling against each other.
Diwali is an annual reminder that evil can and will be defeated. However, effort is required. We cannot sit back and be a spectator to our plight. A willingness to take action is fundamental to change and eventual success. If we do nothing, we will continue to be willing victims of evil men and women.
At this time, our nation requires us to take action and to be inspired by the story of the emergence of Mother Lakshmi, which highlights that with cooperation and unity we will succeed.
The festival of Diwali is also a significant spiritual event in which the symbolism must be understood. At the level of the individual, the mind must be churned and evil must be expelled. At the level of our nation, the national mind must also be churned and evil must also be expelled.
Now more than ever, the hope of restoration which the gods had, and the fact that they eventually defeated evil, must be our hope in order to restore this nation to one of goodness, beauty and prosperity.
As we light our deyas, I ask you to keep faith and hope that better days will come. Let the flame of the deya be a reminder that light will ultimately triumph over darkness; good over evil; knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.
Let the light shine brightly throughout our land.
On behalf of the members of my team, my family and my own behalf, I wish you Shubh Diwali!