VOU dancer and teacher Sharleen Ali comes from a mixed heritage of Muslim and Hindu and is a VOU dancer and teacher. Here she writes about how she sees the Diwali Festival and how it could be used to bring individuals from many different religions together to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. What do you think?
Keeping the real Diwali Festival spirit alive and bringing people from all religions together
There’s a public holiday this coming week. To some this means a day off working your 8-5 job; a day off from waking up early and taking some responsibility. For the Indians (more specifically the Hindustanis) of the country it means a month full of religious worshiping, vegetarian food, and the triumph of good over evil. The rest love to partake in celebrations for the sugary flavors and a night sky filled with beautiful displays of fireworks. Diwali, the festival of lights is just around the corner and the entire country comes together to celebrate; it all really does seem like the ending of a Bollywood movie – Sweets, food and fireworks.
Before we carry on, I’d like to say that I’m of mixed heritage, with my dad being Muslim and mum being Hindu; and my parents have always ensured we participated in both Muslim and Hindu festivals. Diwali is such an auspicious day filled with so much culture and history. It’s definitely a favorite of mine, but not because of the extra sweet sweets or the super loud fireworks. It’s honestly, a great day to celebrate family, love and togetherness.
At times in Fiji there have been signs of dislike, hatred and animosity between communities of different races and religions. However, Festivals such as these, not only brings people together to celebrate this joyous day but it also brings up questions to my mind like “could this be a form of good over evil?” Can the mythical and historical scriptures on the essence of Diwali be a recreation, or resemblance, of the triumph of good over evil, or rather everyday good over everything evil?
It’s a very bold and may I say controversial area to jump into, but really, think about it. What is good and what is evil? We generally associate good as light and evil as dark. The light comprises of a safe area, an area of belonging. It comprises of warmth, comfort, kindness and love; a place we all love to be in. The dark however, is the complete opposite – fear, hate, a feeling of distress, of anxiety, sometimes a place we don’t really understand. Hence, from as early as we can all possibly remember, there has always been a definite struggle between light and darkness or good and evil.
The triumph is not only happening according to the Hindu story of Lord Ram, Ma Sita and Lakshman returning to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana and conquering Lanka. It’s also happening in our everyday lives. The hate, dislike and discrimination vanish amongst people on Diwali and we all come together as one country to celebrate the festival of lights; the festival of light over darkness, the triumph of good over evil.
So Diwali is definitely a favorite of mine; it’s a great day to celebrate family, love and togetherness, and not only with those we know personally, but also with those whom we share a much stronger bond with; a bond of coming as one; as one people, a bond of humanity. So, dress up, go out, share, laugh, be festive and be jolly and let’s not ever try to forget the Diwali spirit. Happy Diwali to all and stay safe 🙂
Sharleen joined VOU in October 2010 where her dream of dancing professionally came true. Since she joined VOU, Sharleen has visited and toured many countries including New Zealand, Australia, China and the Solomon Islands. Sharleen was part of the initiative to help start the VOU School, and she still actively teaches students from the age of 3 – adults.