New Delhi: The Catholic bishops in India want a nation free of corruption, violence and divisive forces on the occasion of Diwali, the festival of lights.
In their “warmest greetings and felicitations to our Hindu brethren throughout the world,” the bishops on October 27 noted that the festival symbolized the victory of light over darkness, good over evil. Diwali or Deepawali (row of lamps) falls on October 30 this year.
“As our skies sparkle with fireworks and homes in our country will be illuminated with bright decorative lights, may our hearts be filled with the light of goodness and our country be rid of the darkness of corruption, violence and divisive forces,” says a message from Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
Diwali, a major Hindu festival, spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings.
The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika in Bikram Sambat calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and offices. On Diwali night, people dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja (prayers) typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of fertility and prosperity. After puja, fireworks follow, then a family feast including sweets, and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period.
The bishop’s message wants the festival to re-illuminate the “minds and hearts” of the “believers in the Supreme Light” so that they can strive amid difficulties and challenges to stand for truth, light and life.
“May the celebration of Deepavali usher in peace, progress and prosperity in our country and in the world. May God bless you, your families, friends and communities,” it concludes.