Address on Deepawali by Amb. Mohan Peiris, P.R. of Sri Lanka to the UN at “Diwali Stamp – Power of One” Awards

Must read

Madam Ranju Batra the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Diwali Foundation and the Honorable Chair Ravi Batra, The President of the General Assembly the Awardees, Excellencies, distinguished delegated, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for bestowing on me the honor of addressing this assembly on this very important and auspicious day and to convey my sincere congratulations to you both on the occasion of today’s ceremony and to the Awardees.

The United Nations General Assembly recognized the significance of Diwali in its resolution 69/250 in 2014. It is a matter of record that Ranju spent seven years before she succeeded in convincing the US postal service to issue a forever Diwali stamp on the 5th of October 2016. A historic number of twenty-four nations led by Belarus and India and co-organizations with other cosponsoring nations supported this initiative initially. This year’s awards ceremony is once again co-organized by nine member nations, the co-sponsors of the Diwali stamp- The Power of One awards including a number of nations. The celebration today therefore is a cause for renewed hope which coincidentally is in the season of advent.

Today is a moment of celebration of victory of light over darkness. Ironically darkness is equally significant since its presence makes the light desirable. Almost all civilizations of the world prefer the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. But nature does not discriminate between the two. In fact, dark matter is an integral part of Universe, and night is always a great time to restore energies and reflect upon our actions and misdeeds.we sleep over them to win new power for the morrows duties.

Deepawali as a festival of light also signifies the importance of dispelling the ignorance to reach upon truth and wisdom. Even in Platonic dialogues , this theme was explicated in The Allegory of the Cave depicted by Plato in his Magnum Opus, ‘Republic’,to compare ‘ the effect of education and the lack of it on our nature ,whereas people were immersed in the shadow reality until one fellow caveman came out of cave and witnessed the beauty of the Sun and the true reality of the world. The Vedas and Upanishads in India emphasized upon light as a medium to dispel ignorance. Since , it is believed, that truth is eclipsed by the ignorance of a human being, and it is light whose presence is sufficient to make the truth perceptible.
For a mind which wanders in scientific rationality hardly notes the mythological sketch of human’s lives. Scientific temperament is, usually, accepted as the valid criterion for discovering the value of truth. But the foundation of science is equally mythological. Myth signifies the human quest to know the truth. Truth is not one dimensional. It may be found in mythological imaginations of humankind. The mythological stories related to Deepawali signify the desire of us humans and our will to find out truth and to eliminate the pervading darkness.

This festival is exemplifying its presence across the world and gives a message that our world is a global village, whose differences cannot negate the oneness of human’s hope and aspirations. Covid-19 has completely exposed the human world with respect to their vulnerability as long as one does not recognize the common dream and purpose of humanity. Today, the global hunger, malnutrition, terrorism, or climate change, they all symbolize the global problems, whose solution lies in united voice of humanity. But not at the cost of neglecting the plurality of voices. It is through “overlapping consensus” one may find the common voice of humanity,as we seek to achieve here in the UN, to use John Rawls’ terminology developed in his book ‘A Theory of Justice’.

The significance of Deepawali could be understood if one transcends the symbolic rituals and reflects upon the meaning what it is conveying. The meaning making capability in human species makes us unique in a sense that only we humans may raise moral or aesthetical questions and to answer them. We as the hope of humanity must be aware about the injustices from which our global village in suffering. And it is time to be a conscience keeper so as to uphold the spirit of fraternal bonding among the Nation-states. Deepawali is one such moment to unite for the humanistic cause and reflect upon the missteps which diverted the human’s energies into the realm of egotism and destructions. Let us resolve to be light of our own world. As lord Buddha said, “be your own light”. We are the stardust of Universe. We are a fragment of the Sun. Without it no life is possible on planet earth. The Sun symbolizes the power of light whose radiance could be visualized all around the world.

I wish each and every one of you the blessings of Diwali and a new year of renewed hope of building back better as members of one human family.

Thank you.

More articles

Latest article