Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has sent an annual message to Hindu communities in Britain for Diwali, the 'festival of lights', which is also marked by Sikhs and celebrates the victory of good over evil and hope over despair.
In his message Dr Williams expresses his hope for 'reconciliation where there has been division and hurt', for 'peace and the rejection of all resort to violence' and the appreciation and enjoyment of each other's festivals 'as a common sign to the world of our commitment to mutual goodwill and faith in each other.
The Archbishop also refers to his forthcoming visit to the Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) temple near Walsall. Dr Williams has accepted the trustees' invitation to visit the temple as a sign of the 'celebration of friendship and the facing of challenges with hope' which was the theme of the Lambeth Inter Faith lecture given in April by the prominent Hindu scholar Professor Anantanand Rambachan.
The full text of the message is as follows:
To friends and co workers for peace in the Hindu communities -
As the progress of the year brings you once again to the festival of Diwali, I offer you my greetings and my warm wishes that this will be again a time of celebration and of renewal of goodwill and faith.
In both Christianity and Hinduism, we dedicate times of the year to the renewal of our lives and of our faith. We seek to reflect on what has gone before and to reconnect with the light which lies within us and which is at the heart of all that is. Christians know this as the Light of Light and can appreciate and share in the ways in which at Diwali you celebrate your awareness of the inner light. Together, and through the celebration of our festivals, we can increase our consciousness of the ways in which light can triumph over darkness and good over evil. We can recommit ourselves to be light in the world.
It was in this spirit that Professor Anatanand Rambachan spoke profoundly to Hindu and Christian leadership about 'Celebrating friendship and facing challenges with hope' in his Lambeth Inter Faith Lecture in May this year; and it was also in this spirit that Hindu leaders joined the bishops of the Lambeth Conference in witnessing to our common commitment to the Millennium Development Goals. How important it is in this Diwali and for Christians in the coming Advent and Christmas season, that we hold to this vision of justice and transformation for all, especially for the poor and excluded, in face of the present economic crisis in which the temptation is to fall back upon ourselves and our own interests at their expense.
It is in this spirit that I shall be visiting the Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple next month. I warmly welcome the invitation by the Trustees of the Temple, and at this time of year my visit will carry particular significance and many hopes for the year ahead.
My hope for this year ahead is that in this spirit of looking to the light, we shall be able to find reconciliation where there has been division and hurt; to work for peace and the rejection of all resort to violence; and that together we may appreciate and enjoy each other's festivals as a common sign to the world of our commitment to mutual goodwill and faith in each other.