Greetings by Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly at the Opening of the 32nd Annual Divali Nagar Festival

Sitaram and Good Evening,

It is indeed an honour to extend warm greetings to our Hindu community, as we celebrate the inspiring and joyous festival of Divali. Divali is the occasion where citizens come together to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

Thus, the message of Divali is the victory of self-knowledge and moderation over self-indulgence and profligacy. To celebrate Divali means to enjoy inner bliss, reduce our personal needs, light the lamp of wisdom in the community and share our gifts and resources with the marginalized and those in need.

Given the devastating impact of the recent flooding in the Greenvale Settlement, Carapo, Bamboo Settlement, St. Helena, Sangre Grande and Kelly Village, there are many, many families in need of items that we so often take for granted in our everyday lives.  I am however, heartened by the “flood” of relief that has been coming in, this national response clearly indicates that regardless of religion, the message and ethos of Divali is alive and well in Trinidad and Tobago.

A few weeks ago, the Hindu youth experience was held at the Nagar featuring music, dances and Indian cuisine among other events; this was wholly coordinated by Hindu youth and designed to promote pride in Hinduism especially among their peers. Initiatives such as these serve to reconnect us to a higher spiritual being consciousness, the overall effect of which is a country with more caring, empathetic, productive, disciplined and tolerant citizens Trinidad and Tobago NEEDS this.

As we commemorate Divali 2018, let us keep foremost in our minds the wonderment with which Trinidad and Tobago is regarded by the outside world – people of all races, colours, religions, ideologies, ethnicities, living side by side in unity and harmony. The blessing of unity and harmony of life in Trinidad and Tobago must never be taken for granted.

Let us pause and take the time to enjoy the warmth of our family, friends and colleagues around this time of year.  Let us extend a hand of love and understanding as we celebrate a festival that has informed our psyche and is part of what it means to be Trinbagonian. The act of lighting a deya is a ritual that is shared by many regardless of creed or race. It is therefore paramount that national festivals like Divali persist for generations to come.

I commend the pioneers of the NCIC, the late Bisram Gopie and Narsaloo Ramaya, Dr. Deokinanan Sharma and others for their vision which led to the establishment of an institution where the philosophies and cultural legacy of the East Indian community can flourish.

As you exchange gifts and sweets with family and friends and celebrate a sacred tradition that affirms the power of light over darkness, let us remember the one hundred and twenty-thousand (120 000) odd people with whom we can all continue to share the light of Divali.  Our nation, built on its diversity and differences, forms a divine tapestry which delights its Creator. We must jealously guard its individual facets as weakness in any area threatens the integrity of the entire fabric.

It is an honour to celebrate and share in the traditions of the Hindu community. On behalf of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Shubh Divali!