The annual message for Diwali falls on the eve of Prime Minister's first visit to Vatican.
Both Christians and Hindus can “bring the light of hope in people’s lives in such challenging times,” said Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuzo Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue in a letter distributed on October 29. As every year, on the occasion of the festival of Diwali, this Dicastery sends a letter to “dear Hindu friends” to deepen relations between the two religions.
The message of the high prelate insists on the way in which the two religions can be made bearers of a “light of hope” in the face of the challenges facing the world today, among them, “climate change, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, hyper nationalism, xenophobia” — all which “threaten to disrupt the harmony between nature and people and the harmonious co-existence of people.”
As believers grounded in our own respective religious traditions and as persons with shared vision for and shared responsibility towards humanity, in particular the suffering humanity, may we Christians and Hindus, individually and collectively, and joining hands with people of other religious traditions and of good will, reach out to people who are in despair, to bring light into their lives!
A very opportune context
This year, the Holy See’s letter comes at a particularly significant moment: on October 30, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be received for the first time by Pope Francis. This meeting is seen as an important sign for religious minorities in India.
The hope is that Pope Francis can encourage a culture of dialogue between the country’s religions, Mark von Riedemann, chairman of the editorial board of Aid to the Church in Need, told I.MEDIA.
The Hindu festival of Diwali begins on November 4 this year and lasts for five days. The name of the festival is a contraction of the Sanskrit word dipa avali which means “row of lamps.”
The feast symbolizes the victory of life over death and good over evil and is commonly called “the feast of lights” because of the lamps that are lit.