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Lighting the ceremonial deyas at the MGICC Divali celebrations are, from left, Indian high Commissioner Kumar Sahu, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar, Pundit Rampersad Parasram and MGICC director Jagit Singh Jagoria.

Shastri Boodan

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar has hailed the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for capturing “the mantra of light over darkness during their governance with the levels of modernization, social outreach and poverty alleviation that they have undertaken.”

She was at the time delivering the feature address at Divali celebrations hosted by the High Commission of Indi at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation (MGGIC) at Mt Hope on Thursday night.

Persad-Bissessar said the people of India have been battling the COVID-19 pandemic with resilience and strength.

“Their determination, their dedication and commitment to building a better future their children ought to be commended and we the children of the diaspora, children of the subcontinent, we are living proof of that commitment for because of our drive, that drive to provide a better future our ancestors parted ways in search of new opportunities although many were left behind in India and we are still in them our food, dance, language, religion all continues to be alive today and as long it remains the roots in the diaspora are very strong.”

Persad-Bissessar said Divali 2020 comes at a time when the world is looking for answers due to the unforeseen issues hindering everyone.

“We ask the same question, where do we go from here,” she said, adding that Divali is a time to undertake deep retrospection and introspection, deep thoughts and mediation of the true essence of life.

“We have seen how suddenly the very world we live in can change. The message of Divali centres on the true essence of life, light conquering darkness, good defeating evil. With all that is happening around us and around the world this year, we understand that it means letting hope for a better future conquer the reality facing us. It means letting our acts of charity prevail over the anguish of the vulnerable but most of all it means trusting in that light that is God to become better humans to defeat darkness,” Persad-Bissessar added

Indian High Commissioner Arun Kumar Sahu described 2020 as the year that “humanity struggled to survive against the onslaught of a deadly coronavirus pandemic.”

He added: “Some of us lost our near and dear ones, and some witnessed our closed ones fight back. It is in this tragic time that Divali reminds us of our resilience to gather ourselves and move on with renewed hope and work towards a better and brighter future.”

Sahu said 2020 was also the 175th year of Indian Arrival to T&T and the MGGIC was also able to open its complex on October 2.

“The complex that you are in today is a dream come true. The idea of its conception was shared by the leaders of India Mrs Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister and Dr Eric Williams, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago in 1968 when both met in Port of Spain. Subsequently, both countries signed a cultural exchange agreement, and India established a Culture Centre in Trinidad and Tobago to bring India to your doorstep.”

Sahu said: “Living with that Gandhian spirit, the doors of MGICC will remain open for all Trinbagonians irrespective of faith and ethnicity. It will serve as a useful meeting point for people, both young and old; ideas, minds and cultures.”