Deepavali, commonly known as Diwali or Divali, is the Hindu Festival of Lights and is observed over a five day period. Deepavali, which means ‘row of lights’, symbolizes good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Considered to be one of Hinduism’s most pious festivals, it is dedicated to Mother Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Hindus the world over take great pride in this beautiful festival and would prepare immensely for it, whilst at the same time making sacrifices and abstaining from prohibited items such as meat and alcohol.
However, in this part of the world, individuals abuse this festival; using it as an opportunity to make quick cash and promote lewd activities. While browsing on the social media, I came across flyers for two such events. The first event was titled ‘Pre-Diwali Fair’, which was held on Saturday October 14, 2017 and featured various artists and bands, inclusive of Rick and Vanessa Ramoutar and 71 Sounds. The cost of a VIP ticket was $2,000.00. I was quite puzzled as to what kind of VIP treatment the patron was entitled to. What really caught my attention, however, and triggered my anger, was the noticeable logo of Corona Beer.
To make matters worse, I came across another flyer, this one more outrageous than the first. This read “Sham in Collaboration with Stag Beer presents ‘Pre-Diwali Jam’” at Sham Beer Garden, East Canje, Berbice. This flyer too bore the logo of a beer, Stag Beer, and the event is to be held on Wednesday, 18th October, 2017 ‒ Deepavali day itself!
I wish to clarify that Hinduism in no way promotes the consumption of alcohol. Nor does it encourage events as the ones outlined above. But the question is, can we fully blame the organizers for such events? An event is only successful if it has the support of sponsors and consumers. It seems to me that Guyanese have stooped to that level where religious festivals are taken advantage of for mere entertainment.
I am, therefore, appealing to all religious organizations to step up and look into this issue. The disrespect must not continue. As Hindus and as Guyanese living in a multi-cultural society, we need to honour and respect that which makes us who we are. We must utilize our time and efforts in preserving this golden religion of ours. I can only hope and pray that this upcoming festival is one where the light of knowledge dispels all ignorance.