“Covid is a challenge but also an Opportunity. However we must see the opportunity that has presented itself to us as a result of Covid.”
The following is the full message from Mr Surujdeo Mangaroo, Public Relations Officer for the National Council of Indian Culture, on the oaccasion of Divali 2020.
The celebration of Divali 2020 amidst the pandemic reminds me most forcibly of an incident in our holy text the Ramayan where Sri Ram about to leave for the forests is with his grieving father. His father is concerned about him having to go into exile. He feels guilty and pained that he cannot do otherwise but banish his son. Ram the son turns to his father and comforts him by asking “why are you grieving about such a trifling matter that of my going into the forests. I am going to have an opportunity to experience the forests and converse with the forest dwellers including the sages. I am going to have an opportunity to experience nature and forest life. This will be a great opportunity for me” said Sri Ram to his father as he comforts him. In a sense Covid has banished us into our homes and private spaces. But is it a curse.
Covid is a challenge but also an Opportunity. Social distancing has affected public celebrations of Divali and particularly Divali Nagar. However we must see the opportunity that has presented itself to us as a result of Covid. Firstly we are being given the opportunity to understand how fragile is life and how much we are not in control of our existences. We are vulnerable. We have a chance to understand the power of nature, of earth rebelling against our atrocities that have caused climate change, environmental degradation and to examine how we have threatened our own existence on the planet.
Divali has always reminded us through the worship of mother Lakshmi of the importance of cleanliness and a clean environment. We believe that if our homes and surroundings are not kept clean Mother Lakshmi will not visit our homes. We live in an interdependent relationship with nature and we need to reflect on how we have hurt the environment. Divali this year gives an opportunity to reflect and correct our detrimental environmental behaviors. The reality is that we as human beings gifted as we are with intelligence have failed to appreciate our interdependence with nature and other non human life forms.
Within recent times the commercialization of Divali like that of Xmas has taken us away from the inner significance. With the sentence of Covid we are going to be away from the maddening crowd and therefore have an opportunity to delve deeper into ourselves and appreciate the true significance of light over darkness. Needing to avoid public celebrations, We have an opportunity to spend time together as a family and to pray together, to strengthen our family life and unity, to appreciate each other as family members.
With respect to Divali Nagar the production of Yaadein, Memories of Divali across the years of the Nagar, this is also a dramatic opportunity for us to see how far we have come not only in terms of the development of the Nagar as a national cultural institution but the contribution of the nagar to cultural persistence of the Hindu population in particular and of East Indian traditions in general. As we look at Yaadein we see how our artistes have developed and improved their personal presentations over the years. We see children growing up on our nagar stage into adult performers and artistes.
We may never have had an opportunity to do this if Covid did not circumscribe our celebrations. The opportunity to reflect on what we need to do and how to do it has presented itself for us. I am sure that Divali Nagar is going to be greater, bigger and better in the future as a result of this year of reflection and thought through Yaadein.
On behalf of the President Dr Deokinanan Sharma and members of the Board of Directors of the National Council of Indian Culture I wish you prosperity, peace, love and happiness this Divali.
Shubh Divali and remember Masks save lives.