Hindus remain split on Diwali date; Govt gazettes November 10

Last Updated on Sunday, 18 October 2015, 1:36 by GxMedia

Then President Donald Ramotar, Dr Vindhya Persaud and other dignitaries at the LBI Community Centre Ground during the Diwali Motorcade (GINA photo)

Even as the Guyana government has decided that the Hindu Festival of Lights- Diwali- would be celebrated on November 10,  two Hindu groups are continuing to bicker over when is the correct date.

Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan confirmed Saturday night that he has already gazetted the date for November 10, 2015.

That is in line with the views of the Viraat Sabhaa which says it is an umbrella group of seven organisations and individuals in the Hindu community.

In neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago, government has already announced that the Diwali would be held on November 10, 2015.

For its part, the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha has also pointed to calculations and the phase of the moon to convince authorities that November 11, 2015 would be the darkest night and so should be Diwali.

The Viraat Sabhaa states that practices essential to the observance of Deepawali are the performance of Lakshmi Puja and the lighting of Diyas during the night. According to that oirganisation what is explicit as contained in the Kaashi Panchang/Patra is that Pradosh Kaal, Nisheet and Mahaa Nischeet Kaal (all being auspicious times), are present on November 10.

“Given this, it simply means that Deepawali cannot be observed after November 10. In addition, Amawasya(dark night) ends on 13:47 hrs. on Wednesday, November 11, after which, automatically, a new moon begins.

This further confirms the calculations that the festival must be observed on Tuesday, November 10, given that it cannot be observed in the new moon but must on the darkest night of the year,” said the Viraat Sabhaa.

But the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha says it will be celebrating the Festival of Lights on November 11, 2015, based on religious reasoning and information from the United States’ National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) about the sighting of the new moon. “Diwali occurs annually on Amawasya or the new moon day of the Hindu month of Kartik. It isthe 15th Tithi in the dark half of Kartik and the darkest night of the year. According to the Panchang/ Patra, this occurs on November 11. This coincides exactly with the western astronomers’ calculation of the new moon which is listed for Guyana as occurring on November 11 at 13:47 hours.”

The Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha also says its choice of November 11 is tied to historical linkages between Hindus here and parts of India. “It is noted that some of the local Hindu organizations have been citing South Indian astrologers as the basis for their contention that Diwali should be the 10th.

However, South Indian States like Chennai and Kerala celebrate Diwali on Chaturdasi whereas Guyana has always followed the North Indian Tradition which is also India’s national position of celebrating on Amawasya (new moon day),” said the Maha Sabha.

That organisation said this was the first time in 40 years that a minister responsible for the publishing of holidays in the Official Gazette has turned down its advice on when Diwali should be held.

The Dharmic Sabha has been indirectly associated with the now main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) through its founder, late Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud. He was a long-serving senior PPP member who had gone on to become a government minister.

His daughter, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, currently heads the Dharmic Sabha and she is a PPP parliamentarian.