Indian-Canadian poet Rupi Kaur shared a powerful message on why she will not be attending a Diwali event being held by the US government, a government that continues to fund and support the bombardment of Gaza.
Kaur, most famously known for her poetry collection Milk and Honey, received an invitation from the Biden administration for a Diwali event being held on November 8 by the vice-president. “I’m surprised the administration finds it acceptable to celebrate Diwali, when their support of the current atrocities against Palestinians represent the exact opposite of what this holiday means to many of us,” she wrote in a lengthy note on Instagram.
“Diwali is celebrated by people of South Asian heritage worldwide. In the Hindu and Jain traditions, Diwali is the celebration of righteousness over falsehood and knowledge over ignorance. In the Sikh tradition, during the time of Diwali, our sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, helped free 52 fellow political prisoners from unjust imprisonment. We call this day Bandi Chore Divas. I have always used this day to reflect on what it means to fight for freedom over oppression,” she said.
“Today, the American government is not only funding the bombardment of Gaza, they continue to justify this genocide against Palestinians — regardless of how many refugee camps, health facilities and places of worship are blown to bits,” wrote Kaur, slamming the government for rejecting the call for a humanitarian ceasefire and highlighting Israel’s war crimes and atrocities in Gaza.
“I implore my South Asian community to hold this administration accountable. As a Sikh woman, I will not allow my likeness to be used in whitewashing this administration’s actions. I refuse any invitation from an institution that supports the collective punishment of a trapped civilian population — 50% of whom are children.”
Speaking to the South Asian community at large, the poet said “we cannot remain silent or agreeable just to get a seat at the table”.
“It comes at too high a cost to human life. Many of my contemporaries have told me in private that what’s happening in Gaza is awful, but they aren’t going to risk their livelihood or ‘a chance at creating change from inside’. There is no magical change that will happen from being on the inside. We must be brave. We must not be tokenised by their photo-ops. The privilege we lose from speaking up is nothing compared to what Palestinians lose each day because this administration rejects a ceasefire,” Kaur said.
“When a government’s actions dehumanise people anywhere in the world, it is our moral imperative to call for justice. Do no be afraid. Stand with the world and demand a humanitarian ceasefire. Many voices will join you when you speak. Let us sign petitions, attend protests. Boycott. Call our reps and say — stop the genocide.”