Monday, June 25, 2007

Diwali Around The World

Thoughts on Diwali Day

1. Deepavali Observations Held In White House. 1
3. Deepavali Observations Held In British Parliament 2
4. Australia, NZ light up for Diwali 2004. 2
5. In Singapore, 4
6. Efforts by Overseas Hindus to popularise Diwali 4
7. Diwali as a National Holiday in many countries. 4
8. Legends connected with Diwali Celebrations – Lord Krishna. 5
9. Legends connected with Diwali Celebrations – Lord Ram.. 5
10. The day after Diwali Day is Amavasya. 6
11. The third day, i.e., the first day of Kaartik, is Balipratipada. 6
12. Govardhana Pooja and Anna Koota. 6
13. The fourth and final day is Bahu beej. 7
14. The Massacre of 800 Melkotte Hindus on Diwali Day. 7
15. Pope John Paul II Curses Hindus on Diwali day. 7
16. Jagad Guru Shankaracharya Arrested on the eve of Diwali Day. 8
17. Nirvaana of Mahaveera. 8
18. Aapko is Diwali aur Naye Saal mein ... 8
19. Diwali Greetings. 10

Deepavali, the festival of Lights, falls in October or November every year.

Here are a few highlights of Diwali celebrations.

1. Deepavali Observations Held In White House

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 11, 2004: US President George W Bush has sent his greetings to the Indian community on the occasion of Deepavali, the festival of lights, the first celebration to be held in the White House after his re-election. "I send greetings to all those celebrating Deepavali, the Festival of Light. Observed by millions round the world, Deepavali is a time for the Hindus to give thanks for their knowledge, happiness and other blessings received," Bush said in his message. "Laura joins me in sending our best wishes. May the coming year be filled with goodwill and prosperity," he said.

Several Indian community leaders attended the White House festivities yesterday, during which former US Ambassador to India and a senior official in the National Security Council Robert Blackwill assured the community that President Bush plans to visit India next year. During the invocation, Deepavali blessings were bestowed upon President Bush, his family, and the people of the USA and the prayer was offered for the world peace and the prosperity of the mankind. Praising the Indian American community, he said Indians must now move beyond writing the checks to the politicians and start asking for return on their investment and begin to participate in the political process more than what was being done currently. The traditional lamp was lit in the presence of about 150 invited guests by Ambassador Blackwill, and the Community leaders.

Diwali marked yet another milestone for Indians when the Prime Minister joined the celebrations for the first time in Parliament ON November 12th, 2004.

This year, Diwali was a full-fledged celebration in Parliament - a sort of mini-mela. Prime Minister Paul Martin walked in to join his ministerial colleagues, Opposition leader Stephen Harper, and MPs in wishing the Indo-Canadians a happy Diwali.
The celebrations began with Martin and Harper lighting the lamps with candle amid applause. People watched the ceremony on TV across the country. In his brief speech, the Prime Minister paid tributes to the burgeoning Indian community for their contribution to the multicultural mosaic of Canada. It says a lot about today's Canada that “twenty years ago, we would not have been celebrating Diwali on Parliament Hill (building),” Martin said.
Conservative Party MP Deepak Obhrai, who is the brain behind the Diwali celebrations in Parliament, dwelt on the importance of the festival and thanked the distinguished gathering.

3. Deepavali Observations Held In British Parliament

4. Australia, NZ light up for Diwali 2004

IANS[ SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2004 09:11:18 PM ]
SYDNEY: The governments of Australia and New Zealand joined the resident Indian community in celebrating Diwali by illuminating their parliament houses in a rare gesture.

In Australia, the northern fa├žade of the gigantic parliament building at Canberra was illuminated at an impressive function Saturday. The Australian Parliament House would be illuminated for three nights.

In Wellington, capital of New Zealand, it was Prime Minister Helen Clark who lit the traditional lamp to inaugurate the first ever Diwali function to be celebrated in parliament house. Clark had visited India only last month.

At the Canberra illumination, around 1,000 people attended the event which was inaugurated by Senator Gary Humphries by lighting a traditional lamp. The Liberal senator was representing the Australian Prime Minister John Howard who is on an overseas trip. Senator Joe Ludwig represented the opposition leader Mark Latham.

"The illumination of the Federal Parliament to celebrate Diwali represents acceptance of Hinduism as a major religious denomination in Australia," A Bala Subramanium, head of the Hindu Council of Australia, said on Sunday. The Hindu Council has organised the illumination.

A number of other parliament buildings have also been illuminated for the first time to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

The exterior of the oldest parliament building in the region, New South Wales (NSW) Parliament House, has also been lit for Diwali. This is the first time the NSW Parliament House has been illuminated for any occasion.

The legislative house building of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has joined the growing list of parliament and legislative assembly buildings to be illuminated for the purpose.

Across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, the historic Town Hall in Auckland and the Parliament House in Wellington have also organised events to mark Diwali.

A number of cultural events marked the occasion. While Sydney's well-known Indian classical dance artiste Raghvan Nair gave a presentation of his "Ram-Lila", a troupe of Bhangra folk dancers, aptly named "Rangla Punjab" impressed the audience with their scintillating oeuvre.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Clark said: "The Indian community is of long standing in New Zealand and it is wonderful to see the celebration of Diwali becoming a significant event in New Zealand's cultural calendar."

"I have just returned from a very exciting visit to India - the first New Zealand prime minister to go there in almost 20 years," she said.

"New Zealand and India have traditionally had a close relationship, and I want to see these ties grow even stronger. I acknowledge the efforts and dedication of Indians to making a new life and contributing to New Zealand society," Clark was quoted as saying.

5. In Singapore,
Deepawali is celebrated as one of the Public holiday in Singapore. The entire Serangoon street is lit up by the government and has a festive outlook.

6. Efforts by Overseas Hindus to popularise Diwali

Over 15,000 Hindus gather at the Sydney Diwali celebrations organised by Hindu Council of Australia. Many Federal and NSW ministers, Indian High Commissioner and many VIPs attend this colourful function. Impressed by this, the Australian Government has agreed to illuminate the Parliaments in Federal Capital, Canberra and NSW state capital Sydney. Efforts of Hindus and Hindu organisations in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Trinidad are responsible for Diwali being celebrated there as an official festival.

Hindus have been celebrating Diwali in more than 50 countries where they live in fairly large numbers. The latest to join this group are the Hindus of China – Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Yi Wu to mention only a few.

Hindus in other countries should unite and make this happen in their countries.

7. Diwali as a National Holiday in many countries

Diwali is celebrated as a National Holiday in the Republic of Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji, Trinidad and Mauritius. (Will some one check if Diwali is a holiday in other countries especially Sri Lanka, Guyana, Surinam, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, South Africa etc). In Kenya where over 60,000 Hindus reside, Deepavali is an optional holiday for the Hindu community.

In Malaysia, apart from being a national holiday, people of various ethnicities visit the home of their Hindu friends. They call this practice 'Open House' and state/national level open houses are also held whereby the state or federal govts hold Deepavali open houses for the masses. The homes of the Indian leaders are also thrown open to a throng of people who represent the diverse ethnic make-up which is what Malaysia is all about.
”Last Friday the entire advertising dept of the org I work in dressed in Indian clothes regardless of what their ethnicity was." quotes one of the Malaysian Hindus.

In Singapore, the entire Serangoon street is lit up by the government.

8. Legends connected with Diwali Celebrations – Lord Krishna

Narakaasura was a demon king ruling over Praagjyotishapura (the present-day Assam). By virtue of his powers and boons secured from God, he became all-conquering. Power made him swollen-headed and he became a menace to the good and the holy men and even the Gods. The Gods headed by Devendra implored Sri Krishna who was at Dwaaraka (in the present-day Gujarat) to come to their rescue. Sri Krishna responded. He marched from the western end of the country to its eastern end, Praagjyotishapura, destroyed the huge army which opposed him finally beheaded Narakaasura himself.

The populace was freed from the oppressive tyranny and all heaved a sigh of relief. The 16,000 women kept in captivity by the demon king were freed. With a view to removing any stigma on them and according social dignity, Sri Krishna gave all of them the status of his wives. After the slaying of Narakaasura Sri Krishna bathed himself smearing his body with oil in the early morning of Chaturdashi. Hence the invigorating vogue of taking an early morning `oil-bath' on that day.

And all this illumination and fireworks, joy and festivity, is to signify the victory of divine forces over those of wickedness.

9. Legends connected with Diwali Celebrations – Lord Ram

In northern parts of Bharat, Deepaavali is associated with the return of Sri Rama to Ayodhya after vanquishing Raavana. The people of Ayodhya, overwhelmed with joy, welcomed Rama through jubilation and illumination of the entire capital. Well has it been said that while Sri Rama unified the north and south of our country, Sri Krishna unified the west and the east. Sri Rama and Sri Krishna together therefore symbolize the grand unity of our motherland.

10. The day after Diwali Day is Amavasya

Diwali is followed by Amaavaasya, the new moon day, auspicious for offering prayers and gratitude to the bygone ancestors of the family and invoking their memories and blessings for treading the path of right conduct. This is also the sacred occasion for the worship of Mahaa Lakshmi, the goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. The business community open their New Year's account with Her worship. This reminds us of the famous saying of the sage Vyaasa, 'dharmaadarthashcha kaamashcha...' - it is through right conduct that wealth and fulfilment of desires also accrue.

11. The third day, i.e., the first day of Kaartik, is Balipratipada

The third day, i.e., the first day of Kaartik, is named Balipratipada, after the demon king Bali, the ruler of Paataala (the netherworld), who had extended his kingdom over the earth also. On the day, Sri Vishnnu, taking the form of a dwarfish Brahmin by name Vaamana, approached Bali, for a boon of space equal to his three steps. Bali, known for his charity, gladly granted the boon. Vaamana now grew into a gigantic form; with one step he covered the entire earth, with the second he covered the outer sky, and asked Bali where he should keep his third step.

Bali, left with no other choice, showed his own head. Sri Vishnu placed his foot on Bali's head and pushed him down to the netherworld, the rightful territory of Bali's reign. However, Bali prayed to the Lord that he might be permitted to visit the earth once a year. Now it was the turn of Vishnu to grant the boon. And the people too offer their and respect to him on this day.

The annual visit of Bali is celebrated in Kerala as Onam. It is the most popular festival for Kerala where every Hindu home receives him with floral decorations and lights and festoons adorn all public places. Onam, however, falls on the 16th day of Aavani (Sowramaana) in september.

12. Govardhana Pooja and Anna Koota

The pratipada is also the day for Govardhana Pooja and Anna Koota (heap of grains), the former signifying the Govardhana episode in Sri Krishna's life and the latter conveying affluence and prosperity.

13. The fourth and final day is Bahu beej.

The fourth and final day is Yama Dwiteeya, also called Bahu beej. It is a most touching moment for the family members when even distant brothers reach their sisters to strengthen that holy tie. The sister applies tilak and waves aarati to her brother, and the brother offers loving presents to the sister.

Some of you might argue that the origins of these festivals are deep rooted in our mythology. But a myth, it may be noted, is no yarn. It was Ruskin who described the myth as a story with a meaning attached to it other than what is apparent, and a characteristic feature of it, he went to add, is something extraordinary about its circumstances.

14. The Massacre of 800 Melkotte Hindus on Diwali Day

In nearer history, Melkote had been ruled by a dynasty founded by Yaduraya. His clan had built several water retaining structures --kalyanis-- of great effectiveness and beauty. A small scholarly community had thriven there. In early 19th century, Tipu Sultan's army descended on a Deepavali day and massacred 800 citizens, mostly of a sect known as Mandyam Iyengars. Sanskrit scholarship had been their forte. [To this day Melkote does not celebrate Deepavali]. That slaughter rendered Melkote a near ghost town. Its environmentally connected life was broken, kalyanis went to ruin, water shortage became endemic, the hills went brown. Sanskrit lost a home.

15. Pope John Paul II Curses Hindus on Diwali day

In Ecclesia on Asia released in Delhi on the eve of Diwali, in November 1999, Pope John Paul declared:

“Just as in the first millennium, the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the third Christian millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent. He fervently endorsed the call of his Bishops, the heart of the Church in Asia will be restless until the whole of Asia finds its rest in the peace of Christ, the Risen Lord.”

Many Hindu organsiation resented this message as they thought this as an attempt by the Vatican to uproot Hinduism; a well founded fear. Pope wants to deliver the Hindu community from the darkness of Hindu false Gods or Devils to the bright light of the only True Christian God. This is his Diwali message.

16. Jagad Guru Shankaracharya Arrested on the eve of Diwali Day

The arrest of HH Jagad Guru Shankaracharya of Kanchi Mutt, at the dead of the night, that too on the eve of the Diwali festival, when he was engaged in a special pooja, and then forcing him to travel overnight hundreds of miles (from Mehboob nagar in AP to Chennai), placing him in a lock up as if he is an ordinary culprit, ruling out a request made on his behalf to place him in house arrest – all this makes one to smell a well organized plot. It is really painful that the administration did not feel like showing the ordinary curtsy to such an elderly, revered head of an important religious institution, when he was being taken into custody.

Never in the history of India has an institution of high reverence been so recklessly and disrespectfully dealt with. Compare this with what happened when the Islamic institution of Deoband at Nadwa revered by millions of Muslims was raided, by the Central and state police, in the 1990s for harbouring ISI agents, an act endangering national security.
The raid was called off midway, yes midway, and Narasmha Rao, the then Prime Minister, had to send two of his senior ministers, one a Hindu and another a Muslim, to apologise to Ali Mian, the head of the Nadwa institution. So the law takes `its course' at Kanchi and `another course' at Nadwa.

17. Nirvaana of Mahaveera

To the Jains, Deepaavali has an added significance to the great event of Mahaaveera attaining the Eternal Bliss of Nirvaana. The passing into Eternity on the same Amaavaasya of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, that leonine sanyasin who was one of the first to light the torch of Hindu Renaissance during the last century, and of Swami Ramatirtha who carried the fragrance of the spiritual message of Hindu Dharma to the western world, have brought the national-cum-spiritual tradition of Deepaavali right up to modern times.

18. Aapko is Diwali aur Naye Saal mein ...

Chanakya Ki Buddhi
Bharat Ratna Ki Siddhi

Vajpayee Ki Maryada
Kuber Ki Sampada

Michael Jordan Ki Salary
Abdul Kalam Ki Vocabulary

Bhagat Singh Ka Deshprem
Sweetheart Ka Amarprem

Microsoft Ke Share
Rupiyo Ke Dher

Tata Ke Senses
Ambani Ke Licenses

Birla Ka Bangla
Daler Ka Bhangra

Amitabh Ki Style
Madhuri Ki Smile

Bhagwan Ram Ki Personality
Ramdev Maharaj Ki Popularity
World tour Ka Ticket
Tendulkar Ka Wicket
Mercedez Ki Car
Diamond Ka Haar
Aur Logon Ka Dher Saraa Pyar Prapt Ho...
Wish you all Happy Diwali & a Prosperous New year
From Ketan Devani

19. Diwali Greetings
Dear Sir or Madam:
Subject:Diwali Greetings
12th October, 2005
One more year has passed and if we look back the entire year has been full of sad events like natural calamities, accidents, violence etc. Not only that on each and every front whether it is political, economical, business, finance, social, religion, society, things have deteriorated and in certain spheres the developments have been very shocking, disturbing, upsetting, disappointing, disgusting, depressing and frustrating. I am sure all of us would acknowledge this and hence the need of the day is to exchange and share our views, ideas, share affection, convey best wishes, pray and contribute constructively for the coming year.
If a free society cannot help the many, who are poor, it cannot save the few whoare rich.
Democracy demands discipline, tolerance and mutual regard.
The trouble with future is that it usually arrives before we are ready for it.
You can’t change people. But you can channel them your way.
Never find your delight in another’s misfortune.
Home is not where you live but where they understand you.
When all else is lost, the future still remains.
There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.
An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
Evil is not in the atom, it is in the person.
The tragedy of human history is decreasing happiness in the midst of increasing comforts.
Every noble activity makes room for itself.
Health is not valued till sickness comes.
A man without patience is a lamp without oil.

1 comment:

David said...

Thanks for the information.