The glow and glitter of Diwali the Festival of Lights is with us once again – many Hindus observe it with week-long prayers culminating in the lighting of diyas (oil lamps) on Diwali night to dispel darkness from their midst.
But behind the glitz and glitter of the celebrations is the somber universal message of the triumph of good over evil. The significance of Diwali vary in different parts of India, the most popular being the story in the Ramayana of Lord Rama and his victory over the evil Ravana.
Resplendent with colours and lights, Ayodhya celebrated the joy of Rama’s return from 14 years in exile, after vanquishing Ravana.
As elsewhere, Diwali has a deeper message for us in Fiji that go beyond the frivolities of a festival. The sparkling warmth and glow of diyas renew hopes and promises of a better future for all those whose lives are stricken with grief, despondency and frustrations for one reason or another.
Diwali’s message through the ages remains unmistakable. Lord Rama through his life exemplified discipline, integrity, respect for all human values and upheld the dignity of every person no matter how lowly or poor. He fought against social injustices and all forms of repression.
To us in Fiji, as we continue to struggle against oppression and autocracy, he stands as a beacon of courage and inspiration. We have our own modern-day demons to fight.
We cannot call ourselves a liberated society because we live under the yoke of a highly flawed system of ‘democracy’. The Constitution imposed on us was specially crafted to continue the autocratic rule of the past 8 years. The elections were not free and fair. Stripped of much of its honour, dignity and decorum, our Parliament has become a sham. It operates as a rubber-stamping chamber where freedom of speech and expression is controlled (if not curtailed) by a partisan Speaker to protect the ruling party. There is an absolute lack of accountability and transparency in the regime’s handling of public funds, and there are still too many constraints on our freedoms and rights. We are an intimidated and shackled society.
We must oppose such fundamental wrongs with courage, determination and firm resolve if we want to live in a free, democratic and liberated nation.
This is our message to our people this Diwali. We have a duty to safeguard the future of our nation and our children.
May we all have the strength to stand up for that which is right and just.