Divali 2016 Message

Message From His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT, SC 

President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago 

On the Occasion of Divali – 2016

In this changing world, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago may well need to embrace closely messages of hope, of light, of triumph and perseverance. The eternal struggle and supremacy of good over evil, positive over negative, that the religious celebration of Divali conveys, are significant because it can trigger in all of us a transformational message to do good and be good. The traditional values and morals associated with Divali will remain the cornerstone of Trinidad and Tobago’s Hindu community and represent a bold inclusivity, capable of transcending race, class, religion and politics.

The universal message of Divali is the recognition that good will always conquer evil and light will conquer darkness. Just as Lord Rama conquered the evil King Ravan, after he kidnapped Mother Sita, so too, individually and collectively, we can meet and overcome our daily challenges, trials and afflictions through standing up for what is right and condemning what is wrong. In this beautiful multi-dimensional ‘rainbow’ Republic, the strong moral philosophies entrenched in the festival of Divali, once heeded, will aid our Nation’s quest for peace, progress and harmony.

Divali is a time for family gatherings, fasting, prayer and deep community bonding and celebration. The Poojas, the lighted deeyas, offering Aarti for parents and the elders in the community, are acts of reverence that can illuminate our daily lives and relationships. The many lighted deeyas that are found in homes, villages and communities in Trinidad and Tobago, are also strong symbols of the light, the positives, that sense of greatness, self-worth and potential that burn within each of us. We each therefore need to draw from that light to eradicate the social negatives of crime and sometimes our racial and political intolerance and disharmony. The celebration of Divali is but one strong example of the religious harmony and unity that exist in our Republic. The key is for us to ensure that this harmony continues beyond the Divali festivities and extends all year round.

The importance of Divali cannot be restricted to celebrations on one particular day or week. The message of Divali is immortalised through the annual Ramleela celebrations held throughout the country at some 27 locations. Ramleela is a majestic street theatre display of the true meaning of Divali. It was in 1992, while accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature in Stolkholm, Sweden, that playwright Derek Walcott told the world of Ramleela. He expressed amazement and admiration at Ramleela productions that were quietly taking place for years in many villages in Trinidad and Tobago. In so many words, he urged the need for national connectivity to the message of this epic street theatre production.

While Ramleela celebrations help to preserve the traditional and historical roots of Divali, the grandiose offerings of Hindu dance, music, theatre, food and culture at the annual Divali Nagar showcase the value of Divali in the context of a modern, united global world. The Divali Nagar with Ramleela festivities, can also serve to attract local and international tourism and awareness to the vibrancy and vivacity of our Trinbago Hindu culture.

I, along with Her Excellency Reema Carmona and my children Christian and Anura, wish the Hindu community and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Shubh Divali and may good forever reign in your personal lives and in this great Nation.