“As human beings, the true conflict between good and evil lies within us and that is where we should light the brightest of lamps so that they may shine forever and never go out,” said Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Singapore Ferial Ashraff.
Celebrating Deepavali, the festival of lights, at the Ceylon Sports Club in Singapore on Sunday, November 18, 2012, she called Sri Lankans and Singaporeans of Sri Lankan heritage to consider Deepawali as an opportunity for people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds to learn about their values and beliefs to gain closer insight and understanding of each other’s way of life through festivity and camaraderie. Stating that, “Deepavali promotes mutual respect and appreciation of one another,” she added: “This I believe reveals unto all of us a nation, the path which leads to the much needed reconciliation.”
High commissioner Ashraff added: “The practice of lighting oil lamps signifies and joyfully celebrates the eternal triumph of good over evil and the constant burning of these lamps during the dark hours of the night acts as a beacon and invitation for goodness to enter the homes of all who are true of heart and believe in goodness. I cannot think of a more just and appropriate parallel at this point in our nation’s history. For as we Sri Lankans, together as one nation, take these steps towards the path of reconciliation. I humbly call upon all to set a light to the lamps within us, to cleanse them of all evils, whether in practice or merely in thought and welcome into ourselves the spirit of unity, peace and goodness towards each other as one nation as with Deepawali.”
The entrance and main hall was beautifully decorated with flowers and lamps. Starting with Pushpanjalee, a series of dances by teachers and students invoked the blessings of Lord Ganesh, Lord Siva, Lord Krishna, and Lord Murugan on the audience. The elegant costumes, graceful movements and smiles won the dancers the admiration of the audience. The schools that participated were the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society and Shri Shenbaga Vinayaka Saive School.
Speaking on the spiritual significance of Deepavali, the Hindu representative of Singapore’s Inter-Religious-Council Srinivas Rai said:
“Deepawali, Diwali for short, is the battle between good and evil. Hinduism is a way of life and Hindus believe, truth will always prevail.
Do good, ignore evil, evil will always exist. Diwali is also the festival of knowledge!
Among the members of the Inter-Religious Organization present were,Venerable Dr. Karadetiyana Gunaratana, Imam of the Ballavi Mosque,Mr. Syed Hassan Alattas,Mr. Lig Kin Huat representing Taoism, Ms Susie Wong representing Bahai and Mr. Russi Ghadiali representing Zoroa.
The compere, High Commission Second Secretary Neetha Chandrasena invited guests to a traditional Hindu meal hosted by the Sri Lankan High Commissioner Ferial Ashraff. The event, a moment of spiritual synthesis, brought together diverse communities of Sri Lankan heritage. An apt quote by Henry Ford on the wall of the Ceylon Sports Club read: “Coming together is a begining; Keeping together is progress; Working together us success.” The President of the Ceylon Sports Club Dr R. Theyvendran, who is also the Secretary General of the Management Development Institute of Singapore and Dr. S T Kasinathan, honorary general secretary of the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society supported the event.