Address by Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris on the Occasion of the Diwali Holiday – November 2018
It is my privilege to wish a Happy Diwali to the Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists who are celebrating the religious festival of lights around the world and here in St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as in our neighbouring countries of Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
This Diwali holiday and always, the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis stand in solidarity with you, for although we speak and worship in different ways, what motivates us – such as our bright hopes for the world and our ambitious dreams for our families’ futures – remains the same.
As the classic song Love In Any Language says,
The sounds are all as different
As the lands from which they came
And though the words are all unique
Our hearts are still the same
Indeed, from the shores of Trinidad and Tobago to the mountains of India and the gardens of Singapore on to the archipelagoes of Fiji – wherever Diwali is celebrated – each religious faith reflects on different historical events and stories to observe the holiday. However, the lamps or diyas that are lit during this festival of lights represent the same theme: the spiritual victory of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and light over darkness.
This hopeful and powerful theme emanates throughout the iconic August 28th, 1963 I Have a Dream speech of Martin Luther King, Jr., who while at seminary school was introduced to and inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, whose mission was focused on promoting justice, non-violence, and harmony among people of all faiths.
Fifty-five years ago, speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Dr. King promoted these themes when he said, “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together…” https://www.archives.gov/files/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf
It is therefore a very special honour for me to partake in celebratory activities commemorating Diwali here in St. Kitts and Nevis, and to spend time in the company of members of the Indian community.
This is a very special honour because my Government and I embrace and endorse the very things that Diwali celebrates and upholds: inter-faith harmony, peace and justice. Moreover, my Government and I also espouse tolerance and respect for all religions and cultures.
We affirm these cherished values, which are instrumental in preserving a peaceful, prosperous and happy St. Kitts and Nevis where everyone is free to flourish and contribute in a constructive manner to the country’s social and economic development. Here, cultural diversity is valued for its role in accelerating economic opportunity for local families through the introduction of new businesses, ideas, people, skills and technologies.
I wish to take this opportunity to commend the significant contributions of the Indian community in advancing our nation-building efforts and prosperity agenda here in St. Kitts and Nevis, and to say that the Diwali festivities present an opportune time for your further involvement, particularly in uplifting the most vulnerable members of our society.
As you prepare for and celebrate the biggest holiday in the Indian tradition by cooking festive meals, gift-giving, mounting outdoor lighting displays, as well as spring cleaning and wearing new clothes – and as you also pray, as customary, for continued prosperity in the coming year – I encourage you all to spread some light and charity in the neighbourhoods that surround your businesses.
This can take the form of donating food to a church’s Meals on Wheels programme or to the churches’ ecumenical soup kitchen, or on a smaller scale to a needy family or two. This can also take the form of donating clothes to the Salvation Army or the Red Cross. Whatever you do, know that your love and kindness will be greatly appreciated and your impact will never be forgotten.
This Diwali, may you meet new friends and create treasured memories to add to the ones you have already found here in our beloved Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Have a Bright and Delightful Diwali!