To Promote Inter-Faith Harmony St Aloysius College hosts ‘Feast of Lights’

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To Promote Inter-Faith Harmony St Aloysius College (Autonomous) hosts ‘Deepavali Celebration-Feast of Lights’ on Thursday, 22 November at the LCRI Hall

Mangaluru: With an intention to promote Inter-Faith Harmony, St Aloysius College (Autonomous), Mangaluru hosted “Deepavali Celebration-Feast of Lights “on Thursday, 22 November in Fr L F Rasquinha Auditorium (LCRI) from 4 pm onwards. This Inter-Faith Harmony programme is not just a message, it has to be adopted in our everyday life. Some holidays remind us of the values that unite humanity, and the annual Diwali Festival is one of them. Though the holiday has many interpretations, the core message is the victory of good over evil. Hindus light rows of clay lamps to celebrate the story of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after he defeated Ravana.

As seen in the Indian example, many faiths come together to celebrate Diwali for many reasons, but the common theme unites them all. In today’s complex world, the need to accommodate diversity and find common ground is as relevant as ever. The display of lights and colorful Goodu Deepas during Diwali has been designed to reflect “a highly inclusive, all-welcoming celebration of peace and harmony,” and that Diwali reminds us “to keep improving spiritually in this lifetime — through unity in thought, word and deed.

The programme began with a prayer rendered by the College Choir, followed by reading quotes from the Bible, Quran and Bhagavad Gita by three students from three faiths. A mesmerizing welcome dance was performed by Miss Srusti and team, followed by a short stage show depicting the origin and significance of Deepavali, performed by Vikyath and group, which enthralled the audience and received loud applaud. The welcome address was delivered by the programme coordinator Chethan Shettigar.

The celebration was inaugurated by lighting of bunch of Diyas by the dignitaries of the occasion, namely Rev Dr Praveen Leo Lasrado-Professor, St Joseph Seminary, Mangaluru; Dr M Prabhakar Joshi-Former Principal, Besant Evening PU College & Renowned Yakshagana Scholar; Dr A M Khan- Registrar, Mangalore University, Mangaluru; and Rev Dr Praveen Martis SJ- Principal, St Aloysius College, Mangaluru. Giving elaborate description of Deepavali and its tradition Dr M Prabhakar Joshi said, “Deepavali is a festival of lights and togetherness. It’s the festival of unity without any caste and religious differentiations. As a lamp spreads light equally to everyone, so we must also love everyone equally. All religions teach us to be united let us become light of love and prosperity. We need to celebrate Deepavali in such a way that it will instigate to spread peace and love in the society”.

“A growing number of scholars and people question the need and justification of using firecrackers to celebrate Diwali and demand for its discontinuation citing several reasons which are stated below. Every year a lot of money goes into flames in the name of celebrations towards firecrackers. It serves no purpose except a little excitement and could be used by people for more productive purposes or humanitarian aid. Whatever may be the practice, in a world ridden with the forces of ignorance, sorrow and conflict, we can feel its strong connection with the highest of our aspirations and deepest yearnings. In many ways, it is a ritual set in motion characterizing our natural inclination for things that are bright and beautiful, as expressed beautifully in the Vedic hymn, “tamasoma jyotirgamaya” (From darkness unto Light). Symbolically, it represents our divine nature and reminds us of our primary responsibility to pursue the path of light and attain liberation.

We need to applaud St Aloysius College for their initiative in organizing this Inter-Faith Harmony prgramme to mark the Feast of Lights, in order to bring peace, love and harmony in the society” added Dr Joshi.

Rev Dr Praveen L Lasrado addressing the audience said, “My Deepavali wishes to all the Hindu brethren, who have given this festival of lights feast which spread the light of peace, love and harmony. In the story of “The Given Light”, the man shares the light with a dying man. When his own light goes off, he relights it from the person with whom he shared his own light. Deepavali is a festival which calls us to share the light we have. The light of peace, love, forgiveness, and joy. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to God.” When we recognize the other human being as our brother or sister then we can say “the night is over and it is day”. In this sense, we are called to celebrate Deepavali every day. Once again, Deepavali greetings to all”.

Dr A M Khan speaking on the occasion said, “This is indeed a unique celebration initiated by St Aloysius College, in promoting Inter-Faith harmony. What is harmony? It is something which brings inner peace. It comes from within us. We should all work in unity to maintain peace and harmony-in the eyes of God we are all equal and we should never incite communal riots and hatred among different faiths. Today this programme highlighting harmony during Diwali has brought us altogether irrespective of religions. So during this Diwali season let us spread the message to love another and maintain peace throughout. Deepavali converts darkness into light. Diwali is the celebration of peace. The day calls upon us to stand against hate, jealousness, communal disharmony etc”.

“Diwali is a great unifying force and it can soften even the hardest of hearts. But today’s youth are very much distracted through digital era and Internet. There is discrimination and hate around. Gone are those when our lives were happy and different. We need to see light in everyone. This is your time, keep digital era to a limit, start reading and not browsing, Shake hands with your friends/relatives and not send SMS wishes; The lights of Diwali also signify a time of inner illumination. Hindus believe that the light of lights is the one that steadily shines in the chamber of the heart. Sitting quietly and fixing the mind on this supreme light illuminates the soul. It is an opportunity to cultivate and enjoy eternal bliss.” added Dr Khan.

In his presidential address Rev Dr Praveen martis SJ said, “Deepavali or Diwali, is one of the most popular festivals of India and of Hindus. The festival provides an opportunity to our senses to grasp their share of enjoyment and to our minds and hearts to experience the joys of life, belongingness, love, and universal brotherhood.The festival brings out into open the social and economic disparities that prevail in society. While rich families celebrate the festival with great abandon, poor people and children experience despair and frustration when they see others celebrating. Diwali symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness, and of good over evil. We celebrate light because it represents life. Apart from the traditional methods of celebrating it, you can celebrate it in other ways too such as lighting the lamp of knowledge in the minds of others or bringing hope and happiness in their lives through selfless service. We should all live in harmony and peace, and never give a chance for hate and communal tensions. Let’s celebrate Diwali with peace and love, that should be our motto”. .

Introduction of the three resource persons namely Rev Dr Praveen Leo Lasrado, Dr M Prabhakar Joshi, and Dr A M Khan was done by Anup Veigas, and the vote of thanks was proposed by Ms Suraksha, both St Aloysius College faculty- and the programme was compered by Miss Apoorva S.

In conclusion, in my perspective, Goddess Lakshmi will be truly pleased if you become a lamp to others and channel her light, wealth, and abundance to them. Let you be a lamp in the darkness of ignorance and suffering and spread light in the lives of others. It is better than living selfishly and accumulate karmic darkness. Wealth is truly divine. It remains divine and force of light only when it is spent for good causes and with right intentions to promote harmony, happiness, and spiritual well being. In today’s world, let us, therefore, celebrate Diwali as an auspicious occasion and a sacred opportunity to bring cheer and happiness in a world which is oppressed by the darkness of egoism, greed, vanity and selfishness. Belated Deepavali wishes to you all!

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