On behalf of the Opposition, I extend warm greetings to the Hindu community and the national community, on the occasion of Divali 2018.
Divali is a festival that is well known in Trinidad and Tobago, and it is one of the occasions where we see a coming together of people from all religious and cultural backgrounds, sharing in the joy of the festival of lights; the symbolic triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
It is a reminder of the value of light both real and symbolically. The lights that decorate our homes remove despair and provides hope that tomorrow and the next day will bring better times for us, for our families, our friends and neighbours, and our land.
For several days leading up to Divali, Hindus prepare their homes, their hearts and their minds through fasting, poojas or prayer services, and charity, appealing to the Goddess Lakshmi to shower her blessings of peace, good fortune, and good health.
It is our hope that Mother Lakshmi looks favourably on us, and bestow on us harmony, unity, peace, prosperity and above all – love to all of the people of our blessed nation.
In recent times, we’ve seen the spirit of our people, as they stepped forward and did their best to lend helping hands to their distressed countrymen. I applaud all citizens who gave of themselves and brought joy to so many thousands affected by one of the worst disasters our country has seen in decades.
You have been the light in the darkness, beacons of hope in a time when many remain fearful about their futures.
I am reminded of a verse in the Hindu holy text the Bhagavad Gita which says:
“Service which is given without consideration of anything in return, at the right place and time to one that is qualified, with the feeling that it is one’s duty, is regarded as the nature of goodness.” (Bhagavad Gita 17.20)
I am heartened by the kindness and the good I’ve seen in my fellow Trinbagonians during this difficult time.
You answered the call of selfless service to community and nation to ensure continued peace, prosperity and harmony in our country, and this is something we must continue, if we are to truly move our nation forward.
Sadly, many families today are finding it difficult to keep their spirits up and celebrate Divali, as they continue to pick up the pieces following the devastating floods. It is my hope that the love and generosity shown to flood victims will continue, so that they too can feel some cheer.
It is worth noting that in some regions in India, Divali traditionally marks the beginning of a New Year, and perhaps, we, too can look at this occasion as a new beginning.
And, as with all new beginnings, let us commit to learning from the past, and taking steps to avoid a repeat of mistakes made, or misfortunes encountered.
We all have an opportunity to unite, and to work together to transform our nation.
Just as the lights of the deyas brighten the night sky, so too each of us must work and shine together to dispel all forms of darkness within our country. Darkness cannot exist where there is light.
Let the light of the humble deya represent the fire in each of us, our love for our country, our desire to ensure that we create a bright and prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.
This drive can only come from within. First, we must want to do better, we must want to genuinely change the lives of the people of our country in a positive way.
May the sparkle of the deyas illuminate us all in the coming days and beyond.
As we move forward into the light, to the entire national community I say Shubh Divali!
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition
November 6th, 2018