illions of Sri Lankans and others in several parts of the world will celebrate their National New Year or the festival of the Sun when the star at the centre of the Solar System moves from the House of Pisces to the House of Aries. For Sri Lanka, the National New Year, starting tomorrow, is of special significance because we are in a historic new era of good governance, democracy and social justice. After the silent rainbow revolution of the people on January 8 this year, the new National Government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe is also giving top priority to national unity and reconciliation.
Despite the setbacks and crises, criticism and uncertainty – which are not unfamiliar in times of political, social, moral and economic restructuring – the yahapalanaya Government will hopefully pave the way for the building of a new Sri Lanka, not in a hundred days but within about two years. President Sirisena and Premier Wickremasinghe have made it clear that after the dissolution of the Parliament and General Elections sometime in June, the two main parties – the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom arty (SLFP) – will come together again to form a National Government and work out long-term national policies on key issues.
As we take a holiday and reflect deeply this week on the festival of the Sun, we would need to renew our awareness that the Sun is by far the most important source of energy for all life on earth. The Sun sends us light, power and energy at the speed of about 299,792,458 metres per second. Without trying to figure it out in our small minds, we just need to believe it and be thankful for the power and energy that the Sun freely gives to people of all races and religions, to the poor and the rich. If not for the power and energy of the Sun, all life on earth will cease to exist within days or weeks.
Not only do we get power and energy from the Sun freely, equally and without measure, the Sun also plays a vital role in producing the food that we all eat to live. Botany tells us that for all plants to grow and produce food for the sustenance of life there is a process of photosynthesis which converts light energy to chemical energy and stores it in the bonds of sugar. This process occurs in plants and some algae. Plants need only light energy, carbon dioxide, and water to prepare food. So we see that if not for the power and energy of the Sun, plants will soon die followed by animals and humans and Mother Earth itself.
The theme for reflection during this time of the National New Year would be whether we are ready and willing to freely give what we freely receive from the Sun. This virtue of selflessly and sacrificially giving love and compassion, forgiveness, goodness and kindness to others is the foundation of rock on which we need to rebuild lasting reconciliation and peace through sincere unity in diversity. While we accept and practise our own spiritual beliefs, cultural values and traditions, we also need to respect the beliefs, values and virtues, cultures and traditions of others. Freely as we receive, freely we need to give. Nature itself provides the example we need. For instance, the human body has different parts playing different roles. The eyes and the ears play their own role just as the hands and the feet or the fingers and the toes. How horrible it would be if the whole body is just one big eye or one big ear! It would be a monstrosity but often we delude ourselves into seeking such uniformity. The National New Year is a good period for a paradigm shift, for a change in perception where we all work for unity in diversity and accommodation on the middle path. That is our National New Year wish for all.