Kali’s View: Festival of Lights still has meaning
JOHANNESBURG - T he merchants have been buzzing and the tills are ringing with the run up to this Wednesday’s annual celebration of Diwali or the Festival of Lights.
The economics of Diwali is significant because, like Eid, it is the peak season for many retailers to increase their marketing dramatically as sales of core festival goods escalate.
In emulating the wisdom of the ancient forest saints and sages to create a society that transcends nationality, colour, and creed - business and civil society must look beyond the splash of colour, firecrackers, saris, sweets and song.
Beyond the celebration, Diwali must serve as the ultimate discourse in good overcoming evil where the exuberant cultural, social and devotional moorings of South Africans of Indian ancestry should lead to lessons of ethical and moral conviction.
The Story of the Festival of Lights is an ageless one of epic battles where good triumphs evil, light overcomes dark, and love conquers fear. Its symbolism is a cosmic conflict, and portrays life as a series of battles between spirit and matter, soul and body, life and death, health and disease and self-control over temptation.
The innate messages conveyed in the stories of Rama and Sita are timeless and is an opportunity to create a window into the cultural diversity of an otherwise segregated nation. We constantly face a rapidly evolving world where each day is dogged by any number of challenges in which one’s true values are sorely tested. It is in this environment of chaos and uncertainty where technology is both invasive and ubiquitous that social media rules.
It is, therefore, imperative to embrace new realms of understanding such as values that are universal, philosophies that combine thought and science and devotion that is deeply humane and embedded in historical treatises. Only in understanding each other, as a nation, and as a battle scarred-society, we will understand each other’s traditions, culture and heritage. For only with understanding comes acceptance and the eradication of suspicion and fear to appreciate diversity through a small glimpse into the history of another culture.
The Indian community in South Africa are a minority, but our contribution to the struggle and the country in many areas of influence, especially in business, education and politics has been substantial.
Apart from Mahatma Gandhi whose considerable influence shaped a nation, struggle stalwarts like the late Prof Govin Reddy, Kader Asmal, Amina Cachalia, Fatima Meer and Dullah Omar and currently Minister Pravin Gordhan, Dr Essop Pahad, Shanti Naidoo, Frene Ginwala, Jay Naidoo and others of their ilk should be celebrated for their courage to confront evil and wrong-doing.
These men and women like many others displayed a collective consciousness and value as human beings to retain the universal message of tolerance, courage and the ultimate victory of skirmish scarred beings who symbolise the cosmic conflict of all men. With this in mind, I wish all who celebrate Diwali peace, prosperity and infinite blessings.
Brenda Kali is the chief executive of Conscious Companies and the Founder of the Conscious Leadership Academy.
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.