Pundit Hardeo Persad, Paramacharya of SWAHA Inc. (Image courtesy SWAHA)

Paramacharya of SWAHA Inc., Pundit Hardeo Persad, is encouraging Hindus across the country to celebrate Divali at home, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an official statement issued today, Pundit Persad says there is no need for sadness over the impact of the pandemic on this year’s observances, given the traditional roots of the celebration—in the home and family-centric.

“COVID-19 is now pushing us to where we should be, back into our homes. So, do not be despondent,” the SWAHA leader says in the release.

The full text of his statement, follows…

DIVALI MESSAGE – CELEBRATE AT HOME

On behalf of SWAHA Divali greetings to all in the national community on the occasion of Divali 2020. Divali is a festival of lights and it comes once a year. It is a time of joy, sharing, caring and so many beautiful things. In years gone by, we have enjoyed so many types of celebrations and different experiences. But now, in the world today, and here in our country, the experience is different.

We are faced with serious challenges. The entire situation is such that we are not able to celebrate in what we would call “ the normal way” , So what are we to do? I would like to impact on your minds that Hinduism can survive under any circumstances. If we understand why we do what we do, then we can survive anywhere and adapt and adjust. If I were to reflect on the past, Divali was celebrated at home. All family members would be there and we, the children, were excited, busy soaking deyas, preparing for puja, all guided by parents. Mother was busy preparing the dishes. Then we would all sit as a family and do puja, then light deyas. That bonding was a family event.

With time, the paradigm has shifted with the introduction of public celebrations. There was a plus in this but there was loss as well. The many deyas that lit up homes in days gone by became less evident as focus was placed in the public celebrations. Flowers were spread on the doorway to welcome Lakshmi Mata. Homes became darker as these practices were no more. As time progressed, socialization became the main factor in Divali celebrations rather than being family-oriented. We had lost that family touch.

At present we have a serious situation in our country where COVID-19 has created havoc. We are told to stay at home, to scale down things, to take the necessary precautions, for it is “the new normal”. This is nothing new to the Hindu mind. It is something that is old and traditional, but we have lost it. COVID-19 is now pushing us to where we should be, back into our homes. So, do not be despondent.

It is time to get back to family life. Many families had become dysfunctional because of different influences. All these festivals help us to stay together as functional families. It is time that families sit together, perform puja together and light deyas. Celebrate at home. Lakshmi Mata symbolizes unity, peace, love, strength, togetherness and understanding. Let us try to bring back all of these into the family during Divali 2020.

It is my firm conviction that family is the basic unit in society. When family degenerates and disintegrates, society also disintegrates. We have a society that has many challenges because family life is disintegrating and I am suggesting that COVID-19 is perhaps teaching us a lesson to return home, strengthening our family life, and building a stronger society. Let us not feel despondent. Let us remember that Lakshmi Mata represents spiritual and material prosperity. In this way the home, community and country will experience greater peace. In many homes Lakshmi may have left. We need to churn the unconscious mind and strive for spirituality. In her presence we will once again restore peace, understanding and prosperity.

Stay close to spirituality. Stay close to Divinity. Strengthen your family. Celebrate at home.

Happy Divali.