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Diwali date becomes political football

The PPP’s headquarters, Freedom House, Robb Street, Georgetown.

The Hindu Festival of Lights – Diwali- is turning out to be a political football, with the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) saying that government’s decision to name November 10 as the date has put it at odds with a large section of the East Indian community.

Trinidad and Tobago will be celebrating Diwali on the same day as Guyana.

The PPP accused Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan of shattering government’s hopes of forging social cohesion and national unity by naming November 10 as the holiday for celebrating Diwali.

Seeking to drive a wedge between the Alliance For Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), the PPP claimed that Ramjattan was used to make the AFC unpopular among East Indo-Guyanese.

“Prakash Ramjattan has dealt a devastating and irrevocable blow to the government which he is part of. From all indications, Ramjattan was picked by the APNU to make this unpopular decision to bring the AFC and its principal leaders into disrepute and to make the AFC unpopular among Indo-Guyanese in general, the Hindu community is particular,” said the PPP.

Claiming that Social Cohesion Minister, Amna Ally’s aspirations for social cohesion were blown into “smithereens with his wooden-headed intervention and unwise decision to de-recognise November 11 as the day for the observance of Deepavali/Diwali,” the PPP announced that it was endorsing the position of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha that Diwali be held on November 10.

“The PPP supports unequivocally the call of the Guyana Hindu DharmicSabha that   November 11, 2015 be the date for celebration of Deepavali/Diwali in Guyana and demands an end to political interference in religious affairs.

Further, the Party demands the political date given as a national holiday be withdrawn forthwith and that November 11, 2015 be declared the national holiday as agreed and reflected in all calendars issued in the national territory of Guyana,” said the PPP.

The Guyana Hindu  Dharmic Sabha , which was founded by the late Pandit and government minister, Reepu Daman Persaud, is closely associated with the PPP.

Across in Trinidad and Tobago, the Sanatan Dharmic Maha Sabha said Diwali would be held on November 10. “I want to make it clear that Divali starts five days before the 10th of November. The official day is the 10th of November, it starts five days before and in Trinidad in the Maha Sabha we end it on the 25th of November which is Kartik day when all of the temples and the schools and the Hindus go to the beaches to have their devotions and prayers and so on so that the funding is appreciated and we say thank you,” said Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharmic Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj.

The Cabinet has approved a TT$3.5 million grant for hosting this year’s celebrations,  something that Maharaj  expressed appreciation to the government for.

“We appreciate the fact that the incoming government has maintained the grant to the Maha Sabha and the Hindu community and more especially we appreciate the fact that it was announced well in advance of Divali so that we know how to go about utilising the funding,” he said.