A contemplation on Diwali and family

 In opinion

DiwaliDiwali is upon us and it is time for reflection and contemplation.

‘Ramayan,’ from which Diwali, a time of celebration originates, is an epic that tells a story.

It became the source of inspiration for Girmityas who were taken as indentured laborers by the British to work in sugar cane plantations.  They left the shores of India (between 1879 and 1919) by ship to countries such as Fiji and Mauritius where they faced much hardship.

It is the Ramayan, the lessons in it, that provided them with much strength and gave hope that enabled them to keep going.

Family values

Diwali is the celebration of the return of Lord Rama from exile.

Ramayan also encapsulates Ram’s wife Sita who accompanied him to the forest and his loving brother Lakshman who accompanied him and encountered all the problems. It is also the story of Hanuman, an ardent devotee of Lord Rama who helped him in winning the war against Ravana.

This is a story of King Dasaratha, who died in sorrow of separation from his beloved son. It is also a story of greed, ego, suspicion sacrifice, duty, responsibility and faith, which eventually is the winner.

If we are to reflect on the field of Immigration in New Zealand in the spirit of the Ramayana much can be said and learnt.

Cruel system

One such is the Family Policy, the government’s humanitarian response to keep families together and strengthen them. The current Tiers 1 and 2 are an ingenious framework. Tier 1 is dependent on the sponsor’s individual income or combined with that of their partner. It is working but Tier 2 is not working. the wait time of almost seven years, is unreasonable.

It is not good to keep old people waiting for so long with raised expectations.

It is cruel then to decline their application because their circumstances have changed over time, resulting in them no longer meeting policy requirements.

The question is, whether is enough being done to manage their transition into New Zealand. Are those sponsoring undertaking their duties? How are issues such as loneliness, elderly abuse and depression being dealt with?

Many groups have sprung up to provide migrant assistance to the elderly but the age-old problem of access to services continues to haunt people.

Diwali is about rejoicing and a fresh start. Therefore, let us take stock and step forward in a mindful manner armed with Dharma and the lessons of the Ramayana with its universal application.

Happy Diwali and may the New Year bring you wisdom, good health and prosperity.

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