Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs and we asked some magistrates what this celebration means to them. They also reflected on how being a magistrate aligns with the teachings of Diwali.
What Diwali means to us
Public speaker, Sonal, from Harrow is a magistrate in the criminal court. She describes Diwali as a “celebration of hope that change can happen when the right things and the right people are around you.”
She adds that she celebrates Diwali with a family gathering at her dad’s house. “We all bring a dish that we know my mum, grandmother and other family members who have passed away liked. It’s a celebration that we are all together and a celebration of life.”
Criminal court magistrate, Pam from the West Midlands, says that she enjoys the togetherness of Diwali. “It is celebrated by many cultures, and I love how it’s so inclusive. Diwali really brings people together from different faiths and cultural backgrounds. For me it’s a moment to pause and reflect to remember no matter how difficult things may seem, good will always win in the end. It’s a time for family and celebrating with loved ones.”
Pam also shares that her and her family and friends exchange gifts or money, visit the Gurdwara to light a ‘diva’ (candle) and say a few prayers. “The lighting of the diva signifies ‘light’, symbolising prosperity and good luck for the year ahead.”
For some, Diwali connects them closer to their faith. Learning Specialist and criminal court magistrate, Baljit, feels Diwali holds a special significance as it commemorates historical events and spiritual teachings associated with her Sikh faith.
Criminal court magistrate, Hersha, adds “my family including extended family (around 20 of us) always celebrate by everyone chipping in to buy fireworks and having the odd tipple. Like Christmas – lots of traditional snacks, food and family time.”
Hersha goes on to explain the significance of lighting divas. “Diwali celebrates the return of Lord Rama back to his kingdom. The kingdom residents were happy he returned (because the current ruler was a tyrant) and lit candles along the way to guide him back home, hence the lighting of candles.”
How Diwali links to the magistracy
Pam feels that being a magistrate fits with the teachings of Diwali. “The whole theme of Diwali is a celebration of ‘good triumphing over evil’, new beginnings and spiritual wealth. I am a magistrate that sits on the crime bench and this feels very aligned. As a magistrate from a diverse background, it gives me cultural awareness and a different perspective.
As I sit as a magistrate in an ethnically diverse area, I have lived experience, where I can apply empathy and experience to ensure I make good judgements and outcomes.”
Hersha also feels Diwali helps to teach the values of listening with kindness to grievances and making a fair judgement – which are important values to hold as a magistrate.