By Robin Gomes
India’s Catholic Church is joining fellow Indians in the celebration of Diwali or Deepavali, the festival of lights, wishing that the light of love, justice and truthfulness permeate the nation and that the gift of wealth be used to do good.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the apex body of the Catholic Church in the country, on Monday issued a Diwali message, signed by CBCI Secretary-General, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas.
The Hindu festival, celebrated on Wednesday, November 7, this year in India, recalls the night when Lord Rama returned to his palace in Ayodhya with his wife Sita and brother Laxman after a 14-year exile.
Many people of other faiths also join in the celebration, lighting their homes, yards and streets with oil lamps call
While evoking the deep spiritual meanings and messages of Diwali, the bishops wished prosperity,
Bishop Mascarenhas spoke to Vatican News explaining the central message of the CBCI’s Diwali message:
Below is the full text of the CBCI’s Diwali message:
The Catholic Bishops ‘Conference of India joins millions of our fellow Indians who cutting across religions and regions, traversing cultural and geographical boundaries celebrate Deepavali, or Diwali the festival of lights. Diwali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Towns and countrysides will be decorated with colorful lively lamps ( diyas ) and rangolies (colour patterns). Amidst the joys and sounds of the celebration, Diwali continues to evoke deep spiritual meanings for us individually, for our country and for our world today.
In the celebration of Diwali, wealth is celebrated as a gift of the divine. Therefore, wealth and riches also are to be seen as opportunities to do good and to contribute to the welfare of fellow human beings. The exchange of gifts is not simply a material gesture but a manifestation of affection, love and relationships. But above all the lights of Diwali mark the immense reality that light will finally triumph over darkness, love will overcome hatred and righteousness will banish evil. As Mahatma Gandhi told us, “If light can come out of darkness, then alone can love emerge from hatred”.
Today more than ever before our world and our country needs light: the light of love, the luminosity of justice, the torch of charity, the flame of truthfulness and the proper use of religion enlightened by true faith. Swami Vivekananda gives a clarion call: “Bring all light into the world. Light, bring light! Let light come unto every one; the task will not be finished till everyone has reached the Lord. Bring light to the poor and bring more light to the rich, for they require it more than the poor. Bring light to the ignorant, and more light to the educated, for the vanities of the education of our time are tremendous! Thus bring light to all and leave the rest unto the Lord…”
Each one of us is the bearer of this light. Jesus has taught us: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
May this Diwali be an occasion for all of us to light up our inner lamps of truth and integrity, justice and peace. May we effuse the light of wisdom, understanding and tolerance. May our hearts kindled with the fire of God’s love assist the poor and marginalized, the weak and the afflicted, so that those who are less privileged may also feel the joy of Diwali.
As we celebrate this great Indian Festival, we pray for our country, our leaders and our people. May God bless us with prosperity,
God bless India.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, SFX.,