In our “A Scout is Reverent” series, Scouting Wire takes a look at how Scouting families across the country observe a variety of religious holidays of their own faith and support fellow unit members in theirs. Join us as BSA’s Chief Technology Officer, Vijay Challa, shares his unique perspective on the importance of Diwali!
For those who may not know about Diwali, can you please tell us a little about the holiday?
Vijay: Diwali, called the “Festival of Lights” is a popular festival in Asia that is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists. This year, Diwali is held October 25—29. One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.” Light symbolizes knowledge and consciousness. During the celebration, temples, homes, shops and office buildings are brightly illuminated. As a part of the celebration, families adorn themselves in their finest clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas (oil lamps or candles), offer puja (worship) to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and partake in family feasts, where mithai (sweets) and gifts are shared.
Do you know Scouts who have Scouting traditions connected to this holiday, and, if so, can you please tell us about that?
Vijay: Given how important diversity and inclusion is to our movement, I am sure there are traditions around Diwali that are followed in local Scout communities.
For Scout units who may have members who follow Hinduism, what are some ways they can show support for their fellow Scouts who observe the holiday?
Vijay: Wish them “Happy Diwali”! If you are going to serve food, make sure vegetarian food is offered because folks usually don’t serve or eat meat during this holiday. If you plan to have a troop or pack meeting, try to avoid scheduling it for this day, or at least hold the meeting a little early to allow for the family to light up the lamps, light small fireworks, and partake in other festival activities.
Finally, how do you bring a different perspective to Scouting?
Vijay: A perspective of perseverance, continuous improvement and continuous learning combined with a servant leadership style is what I bring. Not new, but that is what I bring to the table. I believe any mountain can be climbed, any target can be achieved if we move forward one step at a time. I believe Scouting teaches you that too!
Special thanks to BSA’s Chief Technology Officer Vijay Challa for sharing his story on Scouting Wire.