Fellow citizens, today, thousands of citizens across our nation will break their fasts and offer prayers to Sri Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity. On this auspicious occasion, families and communities will join together to celebrate the victory of light over darkness, and good over evil.
Divali, the festival of lights, commemorates the return of Lord Rama from exile, his defeat of the evil Ravana and the liberation of his wife Sita. The five-day period is cause for both joy and introspection, as its significance transcends the merriment of the various festivities.
Over the past few days, the distinct sights, sounds and aromas of Divali have filled homes and neighbourhoods, giving all a common cause for celebration. In our blessed land, every creed and race have the opportunity to participate in Divali’s many highlights. Our principles of tolerance and inclusivity are evident as schools and business places have decorated, organised exhibitions and pageants and distributed traditional sweets. The intense anticipation of the season has been palpable at the many enactments of Ramleela and at the Divali Nagar, which offers a cornucopia of cultural and religious material and performances.
The celebration of Divali allows us to find strength during times of difficulty, with the knowledge that eventually, good always triumphs over evil. Lord Rama’s victorious return reminds us of the possibility of renewal and restoration, after a period of darkness. Divali also symbolises the victory of knowledge over ignorance and offers us the opportunity for spiritual enlightenment.
Our nation has experienced many challenges, such as rising crime, economic uncertainty and environmental disaster, which have tested our resolve as a people. Just three weeks ago, unprecedented floods devastated large swathes of the country, affecting the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people.
The response of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to that disaster was a perfect demonstration of the light that is needed to overcome darkness. Hundreds stepped forward to render assistance to their countrymen, donating food, money and other relief supplies; many others gave of their time and skills. This outpouring of solidarity and support pays tribute to the core principles of Divali.
As we light deyas, offer prayers and perform aarti, let us continue to embody the spirit of Divali in our daily lives. We look forward to the blessings of Sri Lakshmi to bring light and relief to the afflicted and for happiness and peace to our nation. I extend to the Hindu community and all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, best wishes for peace and prosperity on this joyous occasion.