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    Message by Dr. George Norton, Minister of Social Cohesion on the Occasion of Diwali

    Georgetown, Guyana – (October 18, 2017) Today Hindus in Guyana and across the world are celebrating Diwali, known as the ‘Festival of Lights’. This festival is one of the most auspicious occasions on the Hindu calendar and is believed to have been first celebrated in Guyana in 1853 by Indian indentured servants, who had first started arriving in this country in 1838.

    Diwali, which is now celebrated by all Guyanese, occurs on the night of Amawasya (New Moon) in the month of Kartik, which is considered to be the darkest night on the Hindu calendar and commemorates the return of Lord Rama from a 14 year exile.

    According to the legend, his return was celebrated with the lighting of rows of clay lamps and ‘diyas’. This became a tradition, which is practiced all over the world today.

    A time of great religious significance, Diwali signifies the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.

    In Guyana, the festival is marked by the lighting of diyas, the stringing of lights to illuminate homes, along with rich cultural presentations, motorcades, Rangoli competitions and the distribution of sweet-meats.

    Guyana is a richly diverse nation, strengthened by the contributions of all our people and festivals such as Diwali help us to preserve and share our cultural heritage. Guyanese are given the opportunity to experience the rich Indian culture and traditions, allowing for greater understanding and appreciation.

    Celebrations transcend the Hindu community in Guyana since it is anxiously awaited with great enthusiasm by Guyanese from varying religious and cultural backgrounds, who embrace the message of hope for a brighter future.

    At a time when the Government of Guyana is intensifying its efforts towards deepening Social Cohesion, Diwali must, more than ever before, be seen as a unifying festival, bringing together a wide cross-section of Guyanese.

    This festival reminds us of the need to look beyond our differences and work together towards building a society illuminated by love, peace, harmony and understanding among its people.

    As we celebrate Diwali in our various communities, let us commit to uplifting each other and being a light of hope in each other’s lives. Making Guyana brighter requires the triumph of unity over all forms of division.

    I urge all Guyanese to celebrate this festival in an atmosphere devoid of conflict and misunderstanding but filled with peace, love and harmony.

    Shubh Diwali to all Guyanese!

     

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