The festival of Diwali is over but Hindus are still talking about the controversy over the date. The national holiday for the occasion was given on Tuesday, November 10, although many people believed that the correct day was on Wednesday, November 11 and observed on that day. We asked members of the Hindu community which day they celebrated and got the following responses:

Photos and interviews
by Shabna Rahman


20151123Sandy TalmakundSandy Talmakund, vendor, ‘I did not celebrate Diwali this year because my grandfather passed away recently. I went to the motorcade at LBI on the East Coast on the Tuesday evening [10th] though. It was really nice. I noticed that a few people light diyas on the Tuesday, depending on what mandir they attend. Most people celebrated on Wednesday [11th] because they felt it was the real day. According to the Hindu calendar, the right day was the 11th but the government gave the holiday on the 10th. I went for a drive in Georgetown on Wednesday night and I noticed that most people light their diyas then.’





20151123Ajay Singh 1Ajay Singh, taxi driver, ‘According to the Dharmic calendar the holiday was on the 11th so I went with that and celebrated on that day. I think it was the right time because that night was the darkest. For the first time, Diwali was celebrated two days in this country and there was division among the Hindus. I think they should have listened to the people and come together and change the date for the holiday instead of creating confusion. Even if the religious people had a problem with the date the government should have worked with the calendar. Imagine that was a religious holiday [the 11th] and people were blasting all kinds of music.’


 Anganie Singh, seamstress, ‘I always go with what the Dharmic Sabha says and that’s why I celebrated Diwali on Wednesday [11th]. Two days before Diwali I would light one diya and the next day I would light two and on the night of Diwali I lit all the rest. I believe Wednesday was the right time because the night was the darkest but you can’t convince people. A few people celebrated on Tuesday because it was a national holiday and they were home from work. Some of my relatives went to work on Wednesday and they still came home and celebrated.’




20151123Mukesh Lall, Mukesh Lall, contractor, ‘I celebrated Diwali two days. I don’t know how it happened like that but to be on the safe side religiously I lit diyas and did my rituals on both days and also made sweetmeats and shared to neighbours and friends on both days. I’m glad I celebrated it like that because one of the two nights must be the right one. I enjoyed both of them.’





20151123RameshRamesh, canecutter, ‘I celebrated Diwali two days; the first day I drank rum because it was not a religious holiday, just a normal national day. Some of my other Hindu friends chose to go to the creek that day and enjoy themselves. The next day [11th] I had my celebration, like lighting of diyas and cooking because I recognized that day as the right day for Diwali.’





20151123Parmanand TeekaramParmanand Teekaram, taxi driver, ‘Diwali is supposed to be one day, not two days and for me Tuesday [10th] was the real day. It is based on the moon and that is why the government set the holiday like that. I celebrated Diwali on Tuesday because that was the right day for me. I don’t know about the rest of the people. On Wednesday I went back to my normal work.’





20151123Marshall DookieMarshall Dookie, mason, ‘The real day for Diwali was on the 11th and that is when I celebrated it with my family. The government gave the holiday the wrong day and I believe that it was an injustice to the majority of Hindus. How come the government got involved in religion? It’s because they are in power they do as they feel. They listened to a small group of people and not the majority. The 10th was not Diwali, it was just a normal day for me.’





20151123Krishna RampersaudKrishna Rampersaud, mason, ‘To me Diwali was on the 11th and that was the day I celebrated it and I stayed home from work. My family cooked seven curry and made sweetmeats and phoulorie and other snacks. I went with what the Dharmic Sabha says and to me Wednesday night was the darkest. I worked on Tuesday because it was a normal day for me.’





20151123Ravindra SookhunRavindra Sookhun, taxi driver, ‘I celebrated Diwali on Tuesday (10th) when they gave the national holiday. I wasn’t sure it that was the right day or not but they gave the holiday so that was when I had my celebration. My family cooked a lot of fancy food and I went out and shared with my friends who chose to celebrate on the 11th.’





20151123Mala persaudMala Persaud, businesswoman, ‘I celebrated Diwali both days with my family because we didn’t understand which day was right. I did a lot of preparation on the 10th and lighted diya as well. The next day we cooked normal food but we lit diya again. Diwali is one of the nicest holidays and I don’t know why it was so confusing this year. I hope this never happens again.’





20151123Kamla SinghKamla Singh, housewife, ‘For me it was a double celebration with my family but we enjoyed the 11th more. We lighted diyas on both nights but the breeze blew them out early on the 10th. The next night they light for a long time though. My calendar had the 11th as Diwali and I don’t know where the 10th came from. To me the 11th seemed more like the right day because it was very calm and the night was the darkest. Next year they should be more definite about the date.’


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