Diwali according to Nelson Mandela

I should have put this out on Diwali Day. But what the hell. Better late than never.

Nelson Mandela’s views on Diwali are the BEST EVER. They are timeless.

Here they are (in edited form):

“At this time of Diwali and as I light this sacred lamp I am aware of how this lamp symbolises the triumph of:

Enlightenment over blind faith

prosperity over poverty

knowledge of ignorance

good health and well being over disease and ill health

Freedom over bondage

In our struggle we will be celebrating this triumph together. But we have a difficult road to walk before we can claim that victory for us all in this country. The Indian community has always supported the cause of freedom.

Now more than ever before it will have to become more visible and in that way recognised and acknowledged.

I am told by learned Hindu scholars that as we light the lamp and also pray to the Goddess Laxmi, we need to remember that from our position of well being and prosperity that there are many who are less fortunate and deprived and that we will have to work together to formulate ways of helping to respond to the grinding poverty and desperation in the country.

At this time we also remember leaders and persons who gave their lives for the cause of freedom. Now a we remember Swami Dayanand who was poisoned for his convictions for a free and independent India and who died on Diwali day we remember the many brave persons in our struggle who gave their lives for the cause of freedom. We remember Krish Rabillal, Ahmed Timol, Solomon Mahlangu and thousands of others. Those lamps went out and in their place thousands more lamps were lit for there to be freedom and peace in our land.

Friends, I feel deeply honoured to be with you at this time of Diwali. I will always remember this festival which we religiously marked for many years on Robben Island. In our struggle in this country there are many lessons that can be drawn from the festival and the Epic The Ramayana which is closely associated with the festival. We are on the verge of entering a new era in this country. We have to light lamps of thanks giving the enlightenment as we go forward into the future in peace and hope and prosperity.


For those who want to read the whole thing, here is the text: