The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has published a message wishing Hindus a happy feast of Deepavali (Diwali), in the spirit of “interreligious appreciation and cooperation.”
The Vatican “offers its warmest greetings and best wishes to you on the occasion of Deepavali, which you are observing this year on 14 November,” states the November 6 message addressed to the Church’s “Hindu friends.”
“Amid the difficulties of the Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic, may this very meaningful feast dispel every cloud of fear, anxiety and worry, and fill your hearts and minds with the light of friendship, generosity and solidarity!” reads the text signed by the president and secretary of the Pontifical Council.
The message, which conveys “festive greetings and a few timely reflections,” seeks “to acknowledge, maintain and cherish the good things present in both of our religious traditions and spiritual patrimonies.”
“Albeit a small step in the direction of interreligious appreciation and cooperation, these Messages have, over the years, enhanced and promoted Hindu-Christian dialogue and harmony at various levels,” the message reads. “We readily continue this noble tradition for the sake of forging, fostering, and furthering mutual relationships between Hindus and Christians as a means of working together for our good and for the good of all humanity.”
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the message offers “encouragement to be optimistic” in the midst of “tragic situations caused by the present pandemic and its grave effects on daily life, the economy, healthcare, education and religious practices.”
It is “trust in God’s providence” that inspires us to remain optimistic and to work to rekindle hope in the midst of our societies, it reads.
Along with the “unprecedented suffering” and “the lockdowns that have disrupted our normal life,” the pandemic has “brought a number of positive changes in our way of thinking and living,” it declares.
“Experiences of suffering and a sense of responsibility for one another have brought our communities together in solidarity and concern, in acts of kindness and compassion for the suffering and those in need,” it states.
Our respective religious traditions “teach us to remain positive and hopeful even amid adversity,” the message reads. “In cherishing those religious traditions and teachings, may we strive in the midst of this global crisis to spread what Pope Francis delights in calling “the contagion of hope.”
Based on those religious traditions and teachings, may we, as Christians and Hindus, “join all people of good will in working to build a culture of positivity and hope in the heart of our societies, not only in these difficult days but also in the future that lies before us,” it concludes.