Sri Lanka calls for culture of genuine respect for plurality

Sri Lanka has called for the fostering of a culture of genuine respect for and appreciation of the plurality of Sri Lanka and the world.

The appeal was made when the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York hosted a Deepavali celebration at the Mission premises.

The event brought together members of Sri Lanka’s Hindu community and those of different faiths in the Tri-State area as well as representatives from other Permanent Missions including the Permanent Representative of Mauritius and the Deputy Permanent Representatives of India and Nepal.

The event commenced with the traditional lighting of the oil lamp and included reading of Deepavali messages of President Maithripala Sirisena, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, Hindu religious and cultural programmes and an address by the Permanent Representative.

M R Ravi Vaidyanant Sivachariar, from the Hindu temple in Queens, outlined the significance of Deepavali, and conducted a Hindu religious observance. He explained that Deepavali, which means “row of lights” honours light in order to celebrate wisdom, goodness, and enlightenment.  He also explained the significance of Deepavali in the context of worshiping the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and also recited Hindu Shlokas about the Goddess and peace, in Sanskrit with an English translation.

Addressing the gathering, Ambassador Dr. Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative, stated that with the significant Hindu community in Sri Lanka, the festival is given a special place in the country, and that it is celebrated as an important national festivity.

Acknowledging the festival’s significance as a celebration of light, he affirmed that in Hindu culture, as in other cultures in Sri Lanka, light is a powerful metaphor for knowledge and consciousness. He further stated that lighting lamps reminds one to dispel darkness from their lives, and to embrace knowledge and goodness, including respecting and valuing others.

Appreciating the valuable message of compassion and respect for all which lies at the heart of the Hindu culture and the Deepavali celebration, Dr. Perera emphasized that the path towards lasting peace lies only in consistently celebrating the beauty of the diversity of our communities. He called for the fostering of a culture of genuine respect for and appreciation of the plurality of Sri Lanka and the world, which allows for the celebration of our different religious, ethnic and cultural commonalities. (Colombo Gazette)

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