We must deepen our understanding
Wednesday 11th November 2020
Recent comments by religious and political leaders about Diwali show how much we must still deepen understanding about how we live together and share our religious commemorations with one another.
These statements called on Hindus not to light fireworks on a Sunday. They somehow suggest that all Hindus celebrate the most important event of their religious calendar the same way. These statements were not well thought out. We are glad that they have both been withdrawn.
Diwali is like every major religious festival in Fiji. Just as Christmas, Easter, Prophet Muhammad’s birthday and Eid are.
It is an event shared by all Fiji’s people, regardless of their race or faith. During these times we are invited into each other’s homes. We share food and yaqona and talk amongst each other while our children play together.
As we enjoy the celebrations of our hosts, we deepen tolerance and understanding of each other’s cultures and religions.
During Diwali it is mostly the younger people who enjoy the excitement of fireworks. But these are people of all races and faiths. They all pester their parents to buy fireworks and they all come together to enjoy them.
Diwali has a significance and that is to light up the darkest night. And this is where fireworks are used by all our people, particularly the young, to capture the celebratory aspect of this Festival of Lights.
To suggest religious leaders can issue orders banning a whole group of people from doing things again reflects a lack of understanding.
No true leaders of any religious faith try to impose their will on others. Their role is to offer guidance and learning about the significance of religious events. They do not issue orders.
This year the Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday, Diwali and Christmas all follow in quick succession. So this is a period for us to think about the role of faith in our personal lives - but also the deep contributions made to our country by all religions groups, in the areas of education and spiritual and community life.
NFP Parliamentary Caucus
Hon. Biman Prasad
Hon. Pio Tikoduadua
Hon. Lenora Qereqeretabua