The judge Nishal Sankat stood before in a Brevard County Jail courtroom on Friday was Trinidadian born.
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Shubh Divali 2017
If you were to ask any young child about Divali, the response would be, it is the festival of lights. Some will say it signifies light overcoming darkness. Others may go further and say that it is the time of the year when Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped, who in turn bestows wealth and prosperity upon all.
These answers are the result of what they have been taught. They are all perfectly correct. This continues to be one of the beautiful hallmarks of our country. There are certain festivals which transcend every creed, race, religion and class. Divali is one such festival where the entire citizenry joins with the Hindu community in celebrating the triumph of good over evil.
In my previous articles relating to Divali I have pointed to certain traditions which Hindus continue to upkeep. A couple of days before Divali (the dwaadashi tithi) we observe “Dhanteras” which is an auspicious occasion to buy utensils, gold, silver and other household items. Hindus also light a four wicked deeya or “Yam Deep,” at the front entrance of their homes to prevent untimely death of the habitants of the home.
The next day is “Narak Chaturdashi.” The garuda puran (a famous Hindu scripture which speaks of life after death) tells us that all souls embark on a journey in the hereafter after mortal death and the path to be travelled is sometimes filled with darkness. Hindus, therefore light 14 deeyas on the southern side of their homes in honour of Yamraj, the God of death, who takes such light to the pathway which our ancestor’s soul is traversing.
On Divali day, Hindus rejoice in praise and honour to Goddess Lakshmi. We worship Lord Ganesh (remover of obstacles and the Divine Supreme Deity who must be worshipped first); Mother Lakshmi in her eight forms; Lord Vishnu (the sustainer of the universe), the consort of Goddess Lakshmi; Lord Indra, the king of the gods for royalty; and Kuber who is a yaksha (demi-god), for wealth and prosperity. These are all different representations of the one Supreme Lord.
The day after Divali is auspicious for performing “Goverdhan puja” and worshipping Lord Krishna. The bhagwat puran (a Hindu text) tells us that Lord Krishna lifted the Goverdhan mountain on his little finger to shelter the citizens of Gokul and ordained that Mother Radha, an incarnation of Mother Lakshmi, gratifies those who worship Lord Krishna and Goverdhan on this day.
This day is also celebrated as “Bhai dooj.” On this day, brothers visit sisters. Sisters honour their brothers and pray for their happiness and well-being. Brothers in turn bless their sisters with protection. These five days have been termed worldwide as the five days of Divali. We celebrate this five-day period in Trinidad also.
At a spiritual level, Hindus believe that an individual’s soul is about the size of their thumb-finger and that its shape is just like the flame of a deeya. When we light deeyas during Divali we literally remove darkness from our surroundings. By honouring Goddess Lakshmi with the lighting of deeyas, the Supreme Goddess removes the darkness and negativities surrounding our souls.
Reincarnation allows us the opportunity to acquire spiritual merit such that we can ascend in oneness with the Supreme Lord. The ability to earn spiritual merit and the grace to ascend in spirituality is through the blessing of the Supreme Goddess Lakshmi Herself.
Every year Divali brings immeasurable blessings and rewards. People lose their selfishness and self-centred nature. And no person pleads his or her individual case. We become proud of our community, society and nation, while history and heritage are cherished in a much deeper way. The economic as well as the spiritual development of communities can be seen as the Goddess’ grace and blessing.
Trinidad and Tobago is fortunate that every year Divali is celebrated with such magnanimous pomp and ceremony. Next week Wednesday, we in T&T celebrate Divali with a public holiday.
Goddess Lakshmi’s blessings to all!
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