Happy Diwali, Friends! Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, a 5 day festival peaking on the darkest night between mid-October and mid-November. It’s one of those wandering holidays, based on lunar calendars, like Easter and Yom Kippur. The new moon happens today, which makes it the darkest day.
A few years ago, Diwali fell on Remembrance day. And apparently, that was veryVeryVERY not OK.
I read some very angry Facebook rants and read some very angry letters to the editor about how Diwali celebrations should not be allowed out of respect for Remembrance day. Hindus should not be allowed to celebrate one of the most important festivals in their spiritual calendar because of the accident of falling on the same day as Remembrance day? Yeah, but no.
That doesn’t make sense at all.
Diwali is a victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. I can’t think of a better way to honour members of the armed forces than in a celebration *exactly like* Diwali. Certainly, it’s possible to observe more than one important event on the same day. To wit, India is the country with the most Hindu population, and India sent 140,000 men to the Western Front in 1914 to fight with the British Commonwealth campaign. Remembrance Day doesn’t get dibs on November 11th, nor does Diwali. This isn’t the same fight as not decorating for Christmas until after Remembrance Day. That’s a whole ‘nuther tangle of tinsel.
But I digress…
This year, Diwali occurs earlier in the poppy campaign, so perhaps there won’t be such a kerfuffle over it. But think about it. The members of the armed force fight defend the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They are deployed overseas to defend against bullies who would suppress the cultural identities and human rights of others. Asking to not celebrate something as important as Diwali is incongruous to the raison d’etre of the forces. We hear all the time – they fought for our freedom. Yes. They certainly did; they absolutely do. So let’s celebrate that victory by wishing our Hindu friends a Shush Deepavali.
Certain traditions of Diwali also have a day of the 5 dedicated to celebrating the relationship between a wife and husband, and another day dedicated to the relationship between siblings. Truly, and excellent thing to celebrate. And often things that deployed military struggle with.
Since Child has become a bonafide military member, our whole family has signed up with the Military Family Resource Center. They do fun things like childrens parties and cooking classes and meet-and-greets and Support our Military family raffles and open houses. But they also offer separation and reunion wellness groups, how to prepare both the military member and their families for the anxiety of deployment, and help for military members to reconnect with their family when they return. They support the relationships of military members with their families – whomever they deem their families to be.
This year, as I reflect on the overlap of Diwali and the Remembrance season, I’m thankful for the strong relationships I have with my family, and that our Officer Cadet has a wealth of safety net to help him. I’m glad that there are groups such as the Military Family Resource Center to help facilitate and support families who need some help bridging the gaps. I’m glad there are lots of resources available for those who are still fighting the battle against dark, and evil, and ignorance. I light a candle for them, too.