Let’s have two holidays for Diwali


By Ralph Ramkarran      

Ralph Ramkarran
Ralph Ramkarran

Diwali is celebrated by Hindus to signify the victories of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. These victories were achieved by the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshman from fourteen years of exile.

The lights are intended to illuminate the path of their return to Ayodhya. The event provides a time to emphasize both external and internal purity, extending goodwill and undertaking religious observances, all in aid of enlightenment. Apart from Lord Rama, other deities are also worshipped.

The above is a truncated explanation of an expansive, multi-religious, multi-faceted, autumn celebration that has deep historical roots and wide religious significance for about one and a half billion people. For example, it is not only Hindus, but also Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists who celebrate Diwali.

Sikhs celebrate the release from prison of Guru Hargobind and 52 princes in 1619. Jains celebrate the anniversary of Lord Mahavir’s attainment of freedom from the cycle of reincarnation as well as his teachings on compassion, justice and the promotion of social, political and economic equity. Buddhists mark the occasion as the time when Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism.Diwali

The date on which Diwali is celebrated is based on a complex calculation by experts in Hinduism. (See Swami Askarananda’s letter in SN 28/10/15). South Indians and North Indians celebrate Diwali on different dates calculated in different ways. Even their spelling of the word is different – ‘Deepavali’ for South India, ‘Diwali’ for North India.

For example, 7 states or territories, 5 in South India, are celebrating on November 10 and 29 states or territories, the overwhelming majority, are celebrating on November 11.

According to internet information, which I concede is not always reliable, the majority of overseas Indians follow the Indian practices, based on whether they or their foreparents originate in North or South India. The internet puts it in a manner more understandable by lay people.

“Deepavali is celebrated in South India in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and by Indians living abroad with roots in South India. The date of calculation is based on the geographical location of Chennai (Tamil Nadu). It falls on … the lunar day before the new moon in the lunisolar calendar. Diwali is celebrated in North India and by the majority of Indians living abroad.

Diwali is … in the Hindu calendar, a lunisolar calendar which is based on the positions of the moon and sun, calculated for the location of Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh) in India. It falls … on the new moon night …”

Determined from different locations, Chennai and Allahabad, and one falling on ‘the lunar day before the new moon,’ the other falling ‘on the new moon night,’ it follows that there would be two different dates. In Guyana we have traditionally followed the calculation of North India from where most Guyanese originate.

In relation to this matter Minister Ramjattan, who is authorized to designate the holiday, has adopted the same firmness with the head of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha (“GHDS”), Dr. Vindhya Persaud, as he has demonstrated with other matters in his portfolio. The Minister said that he took into account the views of many learned swamis and pandits and many sabhas. Dr. Persaud, in the Minister’s view, is not learned on the subject of dates, represents only one sabha and is a politician ‘pure and simple.’

His comments suggested that he gave short shrift to the substantial material and arguments submitted by her. The Minister ordered that “November the 10th it shall be.”

However, the Minister omitted to consider that the overwhelming majority of Hindus in Guyana would celebrate Diwali on the date suggested by the GHDS, which they support, regardless of the date he designates as the holiday. The Minister clearly opted for the Swami’s technical calculation based on the situation of Guyana, in conjunction with the sun and moon, according to the calendar utilised by the Swami, and has discarded what Hindus in Guyana have traditional done, namely, accept the date as calculated by North India which is embraced by GHDS, even though only a miniscule part of India is celebrating on the 10th.

The Minister might have considered the better option of placing the onus on the Hindu community and first ask it, including its largest and most popular organization, the GHDS, to agree on a date. Upon their failure to do so, he might then have considered what further steps to take, including mediation. There are others and there was time.

His imposition of a date, without taking that first step, is a most unwise decision for a government with only a 4000-vote majority. The stage is now set for an annual dispute with political overtones between the Government on the one side and the majority Hindu organization, the GHDS on the other, over the date for Diwali, when there was none before. Is this what the Government prefers?

In my investigations for this article I discovered that Delhi is listed in areas that are celebrating Diwali on both the 10th and 11th. If indeed Delhi has two days of holidays, why can’t Guyana settle the argument by having both the 10th and 11th as holidays too? After all, Guyana has two days for Easter and two days for Christmas.





  1. I do understand every ones point of view. I agree that all pundits should come together and come to one conclusion. There are several organizations and no one is willing to come together to talk about there matters, henceforth every pundit have their interpretation. According to the Maha Sabha patra the tithi or auspicious time begins at 12:40 PM Monday nov.9th ,so the dark night falls on Tuesday night nov 10th, but the tithi goes on to the 11th and ends at 12:45 PM or after launch wed.11th. If you light your diya on the wed then you would have gone over to the Shikla Paksha which is the bright side. Because the time went across to the 11th it created this problem. Next year it is going to be the same situation. Please understand every one i did not come to these conclusions. The other many authorities did. I am just a devotee of the Lord.
    I do hope we understand that if we cannot calculate the timing then it is difficult for us to come to an understanding.

  2. veronika barbieri you sounded like a complete idiot. Since you have no knowledge on this holiday I suggest you abstain from blogging about it.

  3. VB, you have no respect for the rich cultural/ religious practises of Hindus. Your assertion that “they” have no loyalty to Guyana is absolute rubbish. Your mentioning that Guyana is not a sattelite off shoot of India has all the hall marks of a racist. How could you link Guyana’s sovereignty with a religious celebration? That just exposes your ignorance and intolerance of one of the worlds oldest religions practised by a significant percentage of Guyana’s population. Why don’t you make a suggestion on how the different groups can come together and have a common date for the celebration? No you can’t because you have mud where grey matter should be in your skull

  4. Pure rubbish, enough of these senseless triumphalist holidays and resort back to the traditional holidays of old…. Too many consessions given to maintain the status quo…. If you want to celibrate Diwali choose one date not one for East and one from South Asia . Remember this is Guyana not a satalite offshoot of India….this is why so many have absolutely no loyalty for this country, can run their mouths from the comfort of Barbados, US or elsewhere and ready to run into the arms of any aggressor who challenges this countries sovernity, give some people an inch and they take a mile… Limit the numbers of holidays and let’s get people back to work

  5. Diwali should not be celebrated as the day one see it fit, it a matter of culture and significant to the hindus…. as a child grown up, i have know to celebrate diwail with the accordance of the GHDS…. and this date was set since last year how come no other organization oppose this date and if they did how come it wasnt made public? Now how can diwali and motocade can be on the same day? i am very dissatisfied with the imposition of the 10th Nov 2015 as diwali…

  6. Diwali is celebrated on the darkest night of the year. and that can be calculated scientifically. Check the Moon Calendar.

  7. Diwali is celebrated by Hindus to signify the victories of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. These victories were achieved by the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshman from fourteen years of exile.
    PNC triumph so all that crap about good over evil is talks for the ears of the very weak.
    PNC was in the wilderness for 23 years and now they came out of exile thanks to lord Hunt of US

  8. Guyana has too many holidays, 17 compared to the Caribbean. Persons have a right to make a choice on when they want to celebrated or observe their religious holiday without it being a national holiday.

    This matter should be a goner. I would be lighting my Dyas when I deemed the holiday to be observe. These persons have been ill advising us far too often lately.

  9. Mr. Ramkaran – What you need to admit is that RUM JATTAN is a power greed self centre crook who only cares about the bottle. RUM JATTAN and NAGA are two official dunce scamp man that you see in Indian movies. EVEN if 100% of Guyanese agree that Diwali should be on the 11th and the PPP support it, RUM Jattan will let his EGO win and say the 10th! End of story. These guys are not educated. It is like taking a pig and dress him up to the thrown….Once smell mud, the pig will end up in the slide! These guys have no ideas how to develop Guyana or about economics. These are fools who let EGO run their lives. You cannot put a manager to lead a company with no management skills! I suggest instead of blah-ing here….send them to school….you might observe ABC is a good starting point.

  10. I find Mr Ramkaran’s article on Diwali quite contradictory and purely political because , in the beginning he clearly states that Diwali has two or more ways the date is determined depending on which part of india or who is doing the calculation while all his information is based on the internet, which he admits is unreliable, he then proceeds to attack Mr Ramjattan and the Govt with a 4000 vote win and attempts to drag Hindus against the Govt like he is their leader.The fact is Hindus will celebrate Diwali on the day they see fit and the govt sanctioned holiday will be the day the Minister designated whether its the day before , the day after or the same day doesnt matter this happens all the time with other holidays that fall on sundays or for other reasons. This is such a frivolous attempt from Mr Ramkaran to Politicize a religious holiday. Stop it Mr Ramkaran you should know better.


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