RESPECT and honour Mother Earth like Hindus do, was the message President Christine Carla Kangaloo delivered as she attended her first official Divali Nagar celebration at Chaguanas, with her husband, on Wednesday night.
Developing on the Divali Nagar theme of Dharti Mata (Mother Earth), President Kangaloo said the theme is representative of light, in the same way that humanity’s failure to honour and respect Mother Earth is representative of darkness.
“In this season of Divali, when we celebrate the victory of light over darkness, and of knowledge over ignorance, we must educate ourselves about the actions we need to take to preserve and protect the earth and use our newfound knowledge to overcome the darkness of climate change.”
She said humanity needs to understand that the earth is not just a place to live and die – it is the source of our existence, and it is the promised inheritance of our young people.
"Here in TT, we need to take up the mantle of our collective responsibility to Mother Earth and the environment – not tomorrow, not ten years from now, but today.
"Just as the concept of karma teaches actions or inactions have consequences, we need to cherish and behave with reverence towards Mother Earth. We cannot afford to bite the hand that feeds us," she said.
In this vein, she said the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC), and the Hindu community have an important role to play in leading TT to a fuller and more profound appreciation of Mother Earth.
“I believe that the Hindu community world over, has a similar role to play in bringing all of earth’s inhabitants into a more reverential respect for Mother Earth.”
Expressing her interest in the development of young people, she premised her speech on the six-year-old writing of Varuna Kistow on Dharti Mata, when she was a Form 2 student at SWAHA Hindu college.
She referred to Kistow’s reference to Dharti Mata being the sustainer and protector of all mankind, and how Hindus bow and pray to her before taking their first step on mornings, when respect is shown and forgiveness asked, for walking on her.
The reverence shown to Mother Earth was further referenced in the inclusion of Earth in many rituals and ceremonies, respect for nature, rivers, mountains, and forests, and keeping their environment pure and clean.
Varuna also had some stern words for all of us. She wrote that today we don’t see Earth as Dharti Mata, we see it as something to use and abuse.
“We pollute waters and cut down forests, indiscriminately. In today’s society the Earth is a ‘thing’ because if it were considered as Mother Earth, we would not perform such heinous acts. By respecting Dharti Mata we are saving our home and conserving the resources we are given," Kistow wrote.
President Kangaloo said she could not think of a more fitting tribute to Mother Earth, and of a more poignant reminder of the consequences of not honouring Mother Earth in the way that Hindus do.
“As I look around at this magnificently appointed outdoor site at which we have reverentially gathered tonight, I ask what better setting is there to reflect on our relationship with Mother Earth than this outdoor celebration of light and spiritual illumination.”
She expressed hope that the Hindu community in TT, particularly young Hindu men and women, will lead the entire country, and then, the entire world, in joining hands and working together to ensure that, where respecting and honouring Mother Earth is concerned, there will be the victory of light over darkness.
She also pledged support to the NCIC and the Hindu community in educating the country, particularly young people, about the importance of honouring and preserving Mother Earth.
She said Divali Nagar 2023 is the perfect occasion for the country to make this commitment and for individuals to do their part by recycling, refraining from littering and dumping unwanted appliances in watercourses, and volunteering for beach and river clean-ups.
She congratulated the NCIC for its tremendous efforts to ensure that Indian culture is afforded its rightful recognition and place in the cultural landscape of TT.