By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
On November 6 and 7, millions of people throughout the world will celebrate the Festival of Lights, or Deepavali. Rooted in the Hindu culture, Deepavali celebrates the triumph of good over evil. As is customary, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a message on 31 October entitled “Christians and Hindus: In Defence of the Vulnerable of Society”.
“Dear Hindu Friends”, the message begins. “The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sends you most cordial greetings and prayerful good wishes as you celebrate Deepavali. May the celebrations surrounding this festival strengthen the spirit of friendship and fraternity among you and enhance peace and joy in your families and communities!”
Defending the vulnerable
The message then stresses how both Hindus and Christians can be inspired by this celebration in order to defend those who are vulnerable in society. This stems from a “shared belief that we are all God’s” children who share an equal dignity. Furthermore, we are responsible for one another, and everyone is vulnerable at times looking to others “to offer a helping hand”. The result is “doing all we can to alleviate” suffering, defend rights and restore dignity.
Together in the triumph of good over evil
In conclusion, the message calls on all believers to be active participants in the triumph of good over evil.
“May we join hands with the adherents of other religious traditions and all people of good will to make a collective and concerted effort to secure a joyful present and a hopeful future for our vulnerable brothers and sisters! We wish all of you a happy Deepavali!”
Where Deepavali is celebrated
The countries Guyana, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad and Tobago are celebrating Deepavali as a public holiday on 6 November. Fiji, India, Kenya, Mauritius, and Suriname are celebrating it on 7 November.