Archbishop greets Hindu communities at Diwali

By staff writers
November 3, 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has sent greetings to Hindu communities celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, this weekend.

The message, addressed to 'friends and co-workers for peace in the Hindu communities', reads as follows.

"On this, my first Diwali since becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, I wish you great peace and joy as you celebrate with your families and friends both here and across the world. Having moved back to London I am aware that every year the fireworks of ‘Diwali on the Square’ draw great crowds from all over the capital.

"My prayer for you is that in all the busyness of hospitality - of sharing food, flowers and gifts, you would find some moments of quietness and peace.

"The lights of Diwali symbolise the renewal of life and hope in the midst of darkness so often prevalent in our world. The spiritual heart is found in the ancient prayer, ‘lead me from darkness to light.’ This is something that as Christians we share with you, as we focus our faith on Jesus, the light of the world in the coming Advent and Christmas season.

"It has been a pleasure during these first months of my time as Archbishop to have been able to meet and share with many of you, here at Lambeth Palace and elsewhere, such as on a visit to Southall earlier in the year. I am encouraged also to hear how Christians and Hindus are meeting each other through the Near Neighbours programme and the work of the Hindu Christian Forum. In Leicester, for example, a series of events called ‘Comparing Notes’ is drawing together leading Hindus and Christians to speak about ways in which their faith has changed them, and during Inter Faith Week later this month a group of Christians and Hindus will be working with young people from different faiths in order to help them find jobs. These initiatives are born out of a desire to share and deepen what is special to our own faith and to put it at the service of our neighbours.

"Alongside the celebration of Diwali, they are part of the richness that Hindu communities have contributed to this nation over many years and for which I continue to be grateful."

Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.

The festival is also marked by Jains and Sikhs. For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 other princes with him, in 1619.

The name "Diwali" or "Divali" is a contraction of deepavali which translates into "row of lamps".

[Ekk/3]

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