In recognition of Jamaica's 50th year of Independence and the invaluable contribution of Jamaicans of Indian origin, many, including myself, believe that it is time for Parliament to give legal recognition to the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali. This is is a most important event in the lives of Indians.
It is untenable for us to claim the equality of all individuals while giving official recognition and sanction to the religious practices and festivals of one group, yet continuing the colonial practices of discrimination. This, of course, causes the motto, "Out Of Many One People" to be false.
Many believe the colonial authorities' lack of recognition of the religious practices and festivities of Hindu-Jamaicans was part of a deliberate policy aimed at creating a people without a sense of culture, a people without a sense of identity and a people without a sense of origin - in fact, a people to be shaped into whatever and whoever the colonial administration wanted to shape them into. I therefore request that official recognition be accorded to Diwali and to those Hindu religious practices which are in keeping with the respect for human rights, human dignity and individual self-determination.
If nothing else is done in celebration of our 50th year of Independence, the full legal recognition of those of Indian extraction and their religious practice would make this year one held dearly and cherished by all well-thinking Jamaicans.