Staff of WOU came together in the spirit of harmony to celebrate Deepavali, also known as ‘Festival of Lights’, with a simple luncheon held at the main campus today.
The function kicked off with the traditional breaking of coconuts just beyond the front main entrance steps of the Homestead building. Doing the honours were Chairman of WOU’s Board of Governors Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic-OCL) Prof Mohandas Menon, and Dean of the School of Education, Languages and Communications, Prof Santhiram Raman.
The event continued with the lighting of the oil lamp near the reception area by Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic-ODL) Prof Madhulika Kaushik, Director of Learning & Library Services Kamsiah Mohd Ali, and Director of Educational Technology & Publishing Grace Lau.
Prof Santhiram, in his welcoming remarks, said that Deepavali is a cultural celebration of the Hindus and denotes the triumph of good over evil.
Prof Madhulika then represented Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye, who was away for a meeting in Putrajaya, to share a few words. She mentioned that the festival derived its name from the lighting of oil lamps or ‘diyas’ by the people to greet their victorious king back after a war, as it was a new moon night. “Also, among the business community, it’s the day they start their new accounting and so they offer prayers to Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity.”
She continued, “Traditionally, Indians believe in sprucing up the house, cleaning out completely. Apart from cleaning of houses, it is also a time for us to spruce our souls, to let go of all prejudices, baggages, and cleanse ourselves so that we can dedicate ourselves to prayer, like the hymn, ‘From untruth take me to truth, from darkness take me to light, and from death take me to eternal life’.
“That is the true essence of Deepavali. Purify yourself, let go of your baggage, and dedicate yourself again with a pure mind and a pure heart to the process of a life of prayer,” said Prof Madhulika.
The spirit of oneness was evident as staff of all faiths came dressed in sarees and Punjabi suits. The colourful ‘kolam’ drawn on the floor and other traditional decorations gave a festive feel to the gathering.