UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles used the analogy of victory of light over darkness as reflective of overcoming the coronavirus pandemic crisis as part of their annual messages to mark the festival of Diwali on Saturday.
Johnson issued his 10 Downing Street statement to mark the “spectacular, joyful festival of Diwali”, which bursts through the autumnal darkness with an underlying theme of hope and triumph over Covid-19.
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“This year, perhaps more than any other, Diwali holds a potent meaning for all of us; because just as surely as Lord Rama defeated the demon king Ravana and brought his wife Sita home, and just as Diwali celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, so too – I have every confidence – that we shall triumph over Covid-19,” Johnson said.
He reiterated the “mantra” for a year when Diwali is being marked in a locked down setting across the UK for people to wash hands, wear a face covering, and keep their distance from anyone not part of the household.
“Let’s all take comfort from the meaning at the heart of this fantastic festival. And let the many millions of Diwali lights all over the world shine through the darkness as beacons of hope for a better future,” he said, adding his wishes for British Sikhs for Bandi Chhor Divas.
Meanwhile, Prince Charles released a Diwali message video through his South Asian diaspora-led charity British Asian Trust and pointed out how the festival this year coincides with his own 72nd birthday. “The Festival of Lights is, I know, a special time for families and friends to come together to share gifts and sweets and to enjoy each other’s companies. Very sadly this year, the ongoing public health crisis means that this will simply not be possible for so many of you and I can so well imagine how difficult and disappointing this must be,” said the heir to the British throne.
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“Amid these strange and difficult circumstances, however, I hope that you might still draw strength from the message of Diwali – that ultimately good will triumph over evil, hope over despair and light over darkness,” he said.
The royal also praised the British Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities for coming together to do really “vital work” during the pandemic as symbolic of the underlying Diwali message of “timeless values of duty and service”, which resonates with people of all faiths and none.
“Together you are an indispensable part of what makes this country so special. Happy Diwali and a happy, peaceful and prosperous year ahead,” he said, as he concluded his message by lighting a candle and the words “Shubh Diwali”. The Leader of the Opposition Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, also struck a similar note with his Diwali and Bandi Chhor message for British Hindus and Sikhs. “As the Hindu community celebrates this time of victory of good over evil, lightness over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, we are reminded of the hope that Diwali brings,” he said in a statement.
“This is particularly significant this year as the world battles the health, economic and social crisis caused by Covid-19…as you light your lamps and pray for happiness and prosperity for all, remember that light will always dispel the darkness of despair and that these difficult times will also come to pass and be replaced by times of great joy and celebration.”