Diwali in Fiji
(Satya Nand Sharma ( Fiji )
Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya
Ohm Shanti Shanti Shanti
God, please lead me from the unreal to the real;
(by giving me knowledge)
Lead me from darkness to the light (ignorance to knowledge);
Lead me from death to immortality (limitation to liberation).
Diwali, “the Festival of Lights” is a five day religious festival celebrated with much fanfare and gaiety in our Ramneek Dweep- Fiji. The Hindus, 31 percent of the total population of 837,000 (Aug.2008 fig), celebrate the festival with traditional good will and rituals.
Such is the euphoria over Diwali celebrations in Fiji that even the non-Hindu population participate in fun and celebrations related to the festival of Diwali. The excitement for the festival is heightened further due to the fact that Diwali is celebrated as a public holiday in Fiji. Hindus and Non- Hindus alike buy colored balloons, decorations and flicking lights for decorating their homes and surroundings, fire crackers, sparkles and rockets for the whole family to enjoy and buy toys for the children.
In memory of their near and dear ones, many families publish messages in the print media and on Diwali day the radio stations continuously play diwali songs and allow the listeners to remember or dedicate songs to their near and dear ones free of charge.
By eight at night it appears as if the earth has been decorated like a bride and all the stars have descended down.
Commercialization has its own effects on Diwali as on other religious festivals like Eid, Raksha Bandha and Christmas.
People invite their neighbors to celebrate together and share sweets with their neighbors, friends and relatives.
Five days festival.
Day One – Dhan Teras an auspicious day for purchasing new clothes, utensils and gold.
It’s Dhanvantri Jayanti Day – the day of the appearance of God Dhanvantri (the physician of the gods) when the Ocean was churned in Satyug.
Day Two – Narak Chaturdashi when the demon Narkasur was killed. A diya is offered to Yum Raj the god of Death. Special prayers are said for the socio-economic growth and the granting of complete lives to the members of the family “ May there be no untimely death in the family or in the compound” Prayers are also offered to “Dariddar Mai”
This day has great significance for the family members and the communities in which we reside.
Day Three - Lakshmi Puja which marks the most important day of Diwali Parv. Hindus worship Mother Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth to welcome prosperity and wellbeing. A unique feature of this day is Lakshmi Puja performed by Shri Santan Dharam Purihit Sabha over the air. People offer food and grains to birds and food and sweets to their pet dogs as a crow is the vehicle of Mother Lakshami and dog the vehicle of Bhairav Bhagwan.
Day Four- Govardhan Puja when most Hindus worship cows- bathing, garlanding, keeping them in shades and feeding them well.
Day Five –Bhai Duuj In most families brothers and sisters meet to show their love for each other.
Since Raksha Bandhan is more popular to express brotherly-sisterly love and bond, Bhai Duuj is rather uncommon in Fiji.
Diwali is the celebration of the victory of righteousness over evil, the triumph of Dharma over Adharma , conquest of knowledge over ignorance and winning of virtue over vice.
Taking advantage of the beautiful festival most people reaffirm the bonds of love shared with loved ones by exchanging greetings, sweets and gifts of love. The Head of Government of Fiji and other religious leaders also send their messages and best wishes. Besides, Diwali gives an opportunity to people of different faith and communities, rich and poor, especially in their neighborhoods, to come together and live in a spirit of communal harmony. In many districts Diwali Soccer tournaments are also organized.
Several schools organize Diwali celebrations to let children understand the social, cultural and religious significance of Diwali Festival. In several schools Diwali celebrations are marked by organizing singing, essay writing, quiz, ragolni and Diwali Greeting Card designing competitions besides hosting talks in Hindi, English and Fijian languages. Traditional Diwali Lakshami Pooja is also organized in several schools. Such activities go a long way in enhancing the social and cultural development of the community in Fiji’s multi racial, multi lingual and multi cultural society.
It’s not uncommon to find some Hindus gambling on the night of Diwali and eating fish the first thing the following morning. They mistakenly feel that these would bring good luck to them and their families. These evil practices only destroy our punya and bring miseries to the families. Let’s keep it sacrosanct.
May this Diwali bring together the family members who have been separated, bring joy to those who are in sorrow, speedy recovery to those who are sick and may Mata Lakshmi shower her blessings on all of us as per our “mansa, vacha, karmana” so that we have good health, wealth and wisdom. May there be abundance of water for the farmers and yagya, fodder for the cows so that we get plenty of milk, and the leaders of our countries are inspired to lead us in the directions of righteousness, peace, progress and prosperity.
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah
Sarve santu niraamayaah
Sarve bhadraani pashyantu
Maakaschit duhkha bhaag bhavet
May all be happy! (sukhinah)
May all be free from disabilities! (niraamayaah)
May all look (pashyantu)to the good of others!
May none suffer from sorrow! (duhkha)
Satya Nand Sharma
21st October, 2009
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