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Address Delivered at Princes Town North Divali Celebrations
Address Delivered by Stephen Kangal at
the Princes Town North Divali Celebrations
The Parliamentary Representative
The Honourable Neela Khan M.P.
On Sunday 31st October 2010
The Power and All Pervading Cosmic Energy of the
Shakti in the Events of Divali 2010
Our Host, My Dear Sister and Parliamentary Representative for the Constituency of Princes Town, North The Honourable Ms Neela Khan M.P. Senator the Honourable Subash Panday, Minister in the Ministry of National Security Councillors of the Princes Town Regional Corporation
Sisters and Brothers
Namastay! Sita Ram! Jai Lakshmi Mata!
Shub Divali to all!
I bring you Divali Greetings from the Team of Sangeet Radio 106.1 Panchayat- The Intelligent Talk Show heard every Monday to Friday from 6.00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
As I address this audience in Princes Town for the first time on the theme of Divali I am reminded of the late Yusuff Khan, James Ramsewak Henry Tooloom Dindial, Sonnylal Sputnik and our legendary, classical song exponent, Haniff Mohammed who all celebrated and immortalised the Divali story in their classical gana.
Princes Town is the cradle for Indian Classical Singing Heritage and I thank and pay tribute to you the burgesses for the musicians that you have provided to keep T&T happy.
Ram Ayodha may ahway
Or Ram Ayodha may jhaway
Thanks to your MP, Honourable Neela Khan for bestowing on me this singular honour of addressing you my sisters and brothers on the auspicious occasion of Divali.
I greet you on this very happy, bright, illuminating, spiritual and auspicious occasion of the Festival of Lights. Divali is the most visible, brilliant, pyrotechnic and colourful of the Hindu Festivals. It reaches out to other communities in T&T.
Divali inspires the creative energy in bamboo bending and wire designs especially in Patna in Diego Martin. Now that funding is available I hope that the Festival will flourish and be more widespread.
I pray to Maha Lakshmi Mata to renew and shower all her choicest blessings of peace, prosperity, good health, harmony and peaceful co-existence to all of us in T&T at this Divali season and beyond.
Please Devi Matas come into our homes. Bless and consecrate them to family life, peace and harmony. But come into our hearts and souls as well. Assist us to live a more caring, selfless, productive, exemplary and sharing life and make T&T more beautiful. Enter into the hearts and minds of those who are bent on terrorizing us with crime and transform their wicked and evil ways.
Sisters and Brothers
It is not coincidental that today we are commemorating the Jahajee Massacre of 30 October 1884 that took place in Mon Repos in San Fernando. Twenty Two of the jahajees were killed when they tried to assert their cultural rights to conduct their Hoosay Festival. The road to cultural persistence and cultural preservation for the Jahajees has not been an easy one. Several obstacles were put in the way of our pitris but they resisted. First it was the British colonials. Then followed the neo-colonialists with their ethno-nationalistic garbage in the post 1962- period. The opportunity to celebrate Divali to day is the result of the resistance and persistence of our pitris.
They used a passive resistance, non-violent, Ghandian inspired strategy to resist attempts to prevent them from practicing the civilization to which they were attached. They did not to succumb to any decadent foreign cultural norms and practices.
I will not go into the events as recorded in Tulsidas' Ramcharitarmanas relating to the return of Ram and Sita from bun and the jubilation of the Ayodhans they showed by lighting the way to the Palace of King Dassarat.
The celebration of Divali in T&T has retained its original purity, authoritativeness and religious flavour since it was plucked from the remote and almost inaccessible villages of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar from 1845 to 1917 and transplanted into T&T to make it a fairy land on the darkest day of the year.
Tonight I want to extract from the kahani of Divali the lessons- the new directions that will help us to chart a new road map to the emancipation of the Indian community and others from the legacy principally of domestic violence and alcoholism. These two scourges blemished and broke up families in our indentured past.
Let us enjoy the glamour and glitter- the songs and the music that will embellish our celebrations. Let the rich symbolism and the power of the lights of Divali serve to make our families and communities more living- more cohesive and being our brothers' keeper.
But let us also reconfigure our common future into a creating new janaam as we renew our commitment to building T&T.
Sisters and Brothers
Alcoholism is being celebrated in winning songs that appeal to the young and impressionable.
Rum till I die. Rum in the morning. Rum in Caura etc. She know I was a drinka.
Rum taking precedence over family life.
Sisters and brothers!
The celebration of Divali in T&T this year is a very special. It is a watershed event in the socio-cultural history. There is an air of optimism-of empowerment. The phool have started to bloom again. There is gana and bhjana around us. The phool are not gharaying. In all the Hindu schools the new array of jhandhis is fluttering and capturing the fresh new breeze of renewal, of rebirth, of empowerment and of growth.
This is the result of the policy of inclusive development and meaningful funding of the Divali Festival for the first time since 1845. We had to wait 165 years for equality and distributive justice to be meted out to our cultural aspiration for conducting a fulfilling life.
It is as if we have now gone from kal yug to satya yug.
Divali this year is unique.
It is memorable and outstanding for four major reasons that I can think of. You can think of more.
This is a major ground-breaking development that previous governments did not the testicular fortitude to proclaim. Accordingly the celebration of Divali this year has assumed heightened importance and new proportions right across the cultural landscape. All the cultural communities that belong to our cosmopolitan society must now be treated equally and have equitable access to the resources of the state. We are no longer victims of a practice of tribal promoting ethno-nationalism.
- Firstly - A Shakti or lakshmi, The Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar assumed control of a major political party for the first time in the political history of T&T in January. She has transformed the celebrations and taken it to a new level of inclusiveness and participation at the national level.
- Number Two - This same Shakti then went on to assume control of a broadly based People's Partnership governance of the people of T&T after conquering the forces of arrogance, evil and exclusive mismanagement of the economy that pillaged our crown jewels. She re-wrote the political history of T&T and is charting a new course of inclusive governance.
- Three - The same Shakti has declared that T&T is officially a multicultural society joining Canada, UK, Australia, Sweden and a Russian Republic of Estonia.
In the past since 1962 our cultural policy and practice was exclusionary. It was tribal driven. It was a process of assimilation. We had to conform to a non-existent T&T-culture to obtain acceptability just as we had to do under British colonialism. We were induced to give up our ancestral links that we cherished and brought with us in our jahaji bundles. We would have been culture-less like the Indians of Jamaica were we not stronger and had 6,000 years of cultural conditioning flowing in our veins.
We now on the other hand, for the first time, subscribe to a policy of multiculturalism - of cultural pluralism - of appreciation for each others cultural expressions - of the right for all cultures to co-exist side by side. The mantra is inclusive development, transparency, accountability and leaving no one and no cultural constituency out of the development loop.
Accordingly for the first time the Shakti PM, in accordance with the tenets of equality, fairness and distributive justice, as an aspect of the new policy of multiculturalism, gave $4m to groups to celebrate Divali. Thank you Honourable PM and the Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism the Honourable Winston Peters for correcting the historical imbalance and cultural injustices of the past. Later I will speak of the inclusion of Divali as a component of our official cultural tourism.
The Spiritual Wall Against the Natural Forces of Nature
Let us not under-estimate the events of Friday night-Saturday morning.
Four - We were protected by the erection of a strong spiritual wall of defence against the forces of nature. The Caribs used to call this threat the Hurricane god Huracan.
T&T at this auspicious time, Sisters and brothers, beginning from Pitra Puksh to Nau Ratri to Ram Naomi and Ram Leela to Divali is protected by the three Shakthis- Mother Durga, Saraswatee Mata and the goddess of Peace and Prosperity the goddess Lakshmi.
- I am of the firm view that from the beginning of pitri puksh (October) to Divali the atmosphere in T&T is dense, filled and thick with the cosmic and divine presence/ spirit of the three female goddesses whom we worship at this time. They make us feel protected from harm.
- They protected our pitris across the kala pani and on the plains of Caroni and Naparima. The Shakthis intervened politically in 1995 and in 2010. This all-pervading power of the shaktis was clearly manifested and amply demonstrated last Friday night/Saturday morning.
- The divine power of the three shaktis combined created an impenetrable fire- wall to insulate T&T from the potentially damaging effects of the approaching storm Tomas. They the shaktis knew that the approaching storm would have threatened the integrity of our pre-Divali celebrations.
Additionally, the protective shield of a human shakti is in charge of T&T. T&T is now transformed by Shree Ram and Sita Mata into a veritable Ayodha.
We are today busy celebrating and trumpeting the triumph of good, truth and justice over the dark forces of evil, untruths and falsehood after suffering from and enduring 10 years of the worst creeping dictatorial arrogance that pauperized this Nation.
T&T cannot be subjected to any natural disasters. We have had a one- man-made disaster that the human shakti has to repair and set right. She is doing so very well.
Let us thank the Lakshmi Mata, Saraswatee Mata and Durga Mata for saving us from harm that Tomas could have caused. I can only attribute the sudden change of course of Tomas to cosmic and divine intervention.
Our prayers, our mantras, our pujas, our Hawans, the fragrance and incense of our artis and fire sacrifices, our invocation dances at the Divali Nagar and temples and the lights of Divali all combined to insulate us from harm in a most miraculous manner.
The three shaktis that guided and protected our pitris while crossing the Kala Pani en route from Calcutta to Caroni are still protecting the children of the indentures. We have to be thankful to Mother Lakshmi for peace and prosperity and Mother Durga for protection from all the forces of evil.
What appeal can I send to T&T at this Divali time?
While the divine shaktis that is to say Durgah, Saraswatee and Lakshmi, protect us at the cosmic level we have an obligation to protect and appreciate the incarnation of the lakshmi in our homes. They are the earthly manifestations and representations of the three cosmic shaktis Durga, Saraswattee and Lakshmi Matas.
Our mothers and daughters keep all of us men and boys alive and well. They are the quintessential home-makers. They take lohar and seal and make them into roti. They provide for us to kaho, peeyo and mauge karo.
Their thrift and astute household management is responsible for increasing our prosperity and success in the world of business and home and land ownership.
They our women-folk supported our pitris through thick and thin to provide for our good life today. Let us not to contribute to the expanding pool of single and battered mothers. This is a challenge that is confronting the Indian community.
Divali as a stock-taking event must be the occasion to address the festering evil of the battered women syndrome and to eliminate it. Domestic violence will be perpetuated so long as alcoholism is rampant. We must eradicate both.
I appeal to the mandirs, mosques, churches, NGO's and the Social Services to take pre-emptive social action that will reduce and even prevent the growing incidence of the battered women syndrome. This is too prevalent in the East Indian community and the social services are not geared to respond.
Alcoholism and domestic violence represent the real forces of darkness- of negative conduct- of untruths- of evil that must be conquered by the lights, the rich symbolism and wisdom of the Divali kahani.
Accordingly let us pledge to honour, respect, cherish and reward our women-folk. Let us not abuse them. They are the foundations for the growth and civilized development of our Nation. They are responsible for where we are today as a community.
We cannot be neemakharam to the lakshmis that administer our homes with their maternal instincts and intuition and their magic touch.
Shub Divali to All!