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Vatican calls on Christians, Hindus to work together for peace ahead of Diwali

Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”

The Vatican’s Dicastery for Inter-religious Dialogue this week called on Christians and Hindus around the world to work for peace ahead of the Indian festival of lights, known as “Diwali,” that will be celebrated this year on October 24.

The festival, which is one of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs, usually lasts five days, or six in some regions of India, and is celebrated during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika.

One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.”

In its message, the dicastery extended its “joyous greetings” and called on Hindus and Christians to strive for “conviviality and co-responsibility.”

“May this festival of lights give you the grace and happiness to enkindle, besides yours, the lives of everyone in your families, communities and in the larger society,” read the message.

The message, however, noted the rising “instances of tensions, conflicts and violence in different parts of the world on the basis of religious, cultural, ethnic, racial and linguistic identities and supremacies.”

It said that these conflicts are often “fueled by competitive, populist and expansionist politics … and blatant misuse of social media,” threatening the “fraternal and peaceful co-existence in society.”

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The Vatican message stressed that the way forward is “conviviality,” which it defined as “the ability to live in the midst of others with their individualities, diversities and differences in a spirit of respect, love and trust.”

Hindu devotees offer prayers during Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, at a Hindu temple in Colombo on Oct. 27, 2019. Diwali marks victory over evil and commemorates the time when Hindu god Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom of Ayodhya. (Photo by Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP)

The message said conviviality can be built “through personal encounters and dialogue, in mutual listening and learning” that will lead to “co-responsibility,” that is, the recognition of “the transcendental dignity of every human person and his or her legitimate rights.”

“May we, Christians and Hindus, joining hands with those of all other religious traditions and people of good will, promote … the spirit of conviviality and co-responsibility to transform this world into a secure home for everyone to live in with peace and joy!” it added.

Instituted by Pope St. Paul VI in 1964, the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue sends out messages every year on the occasion of Diwali and the Muslim observance of Ramadan, and the Buddhist festival of Vesakh.

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