High Commissioner Nicholas, in recognition of the festival’s special relevance to the family opened up his official home for the celebration. “This is a time of deep familial connection. The home is the centre of the family, its base, I felt that there was no more significant place for us to hold this observance than here at the residence.”
At every step during the preparation for ceremony the commitment to family held true. Upon entry staff members and their families were seen lighting diyas that lined the driveway.
Nationals were invited to participate at all levels and were happy to set up the singhasan (altar) where the p?j? was held. The children of guests were most visible, playing with each other throughout the house and garden.
The chilly autumn afternoon seemed not to deter anyone as people came out in their numbers to join in the festivities. They came from as far as Birmingham, and Nottingham to join and celebrate with those from London and its suburbs.
In addressing some 300 guests of all ethnicities, religions and social backgrounds, the High Commissioner referred to Mother Lakshmi as the Goddess of wealth, prosperity and knowledge.
“It is to her we turn for wisdom and understanding in prayer for another successful 50 years as an independent twin island state.” His Excellency also encouraged all to think seriously about the message of Divali as he reflected, “Much like it takes just one diya to banish the dark it takes one person to make a difference. We need individually to be responsible and therefore collectively as a whole we will move forward.”
The High Commissioner lit the nine diyas at the shrine for Goddess Lakshmi for the start of the ceremony and joined Pandita Arsha Gosine on the floor as she led the Divali p?j?. Immigration Attaché Narinesingh Lal gave the feature address in which he gave a detailed explanation of the spiritual significance of the festival. Gobin Dwarika performed the bhajans.
The entertainment on the programme included songs by Dora Fernandes and Meera Mankanda while classical Indian dancers Crishna and Camilita Budha amazed the audience with their intricate choreography. The evening ended with an invitation for guests to partake in preeti bhojan (refreshments and dinner).