Thursday, October 28, 2010

Deepavali, the Vatican, and This Catholic

Deepavali, or Dīvali, or Dīpāwali, or Diwali - oh, forget all the different versions: The Festival of Lights is coming up for Hindus. I gather it's a pretty big deal. And, from the varied attempts at spelling it in the English version of the Latin alphabet, something that doesn't sound 'American' when properly pronounced.

The Holy See had a few words to say about the Hindu festival:
"Vatican wishes world's Hindus a happy Deepavali"
Catholic News Agency (October 28, 2010)

"The Vatican is wishing the world's Hindus a 'joy-filled Deepavali.'

"In a letter to mark the annual Hindu festival of lights, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran asked that God, 'the Supreme Light,' enlighten minds and hearts and strengthen the bonds of friendship and respect among religious believers...."
Surprised? Shocked? Cynical? Certain that this letter is a sure sign of the coming Apocalypse?

I'm not.

But then, I don't expect Cardinals to be like stereotype American fire-and-brimstone preachers. Or cartoon televangelists.

Living In a Big World

Around 897,000,000 of the 6,768,000,000 or so folks living today hold Hindu beliefs. ("World," CIA World Factbook (last updated October 19, 2010)) That's more than the population of Sauk Centre, Minnesota: or even New York City.

There are many ways of reacting to a world where most folks are 'foreigners.' One is to decide that there are too many people around: and that the foreigners should stop having babies. For their own good, of course. And that's another topic.

I like living in a town with about 4,000 other folks: many of whom look a bit like me. I also liked living in San Francisco. Today, I like living in a world where folks on different continents can communicate in near-real-time.

As for not all folks being just like me? I've discussed unity and diversity from a Catholic perspective before. (August 26, 2010)

Associating With - Hindus?!

If Catholics hadn't associated with my ancestors, we might still be practicing human sacrifice. I'm not at all sorry that the Church took pointers from Jesus about being around folks who weren't quite up to speed. (Matthew 9:10)

Not that today's Hindus are in the same category as tax collectors back then. Which is another topic. I've discussed moral law before. (October 16, 2010, for starters)

I'm not surprised that the Holy See maintains communication with Hindus. Good grief: folks from the Vatican talk to diplomats at the United Nations and the President of the United States from time to time. We're really not all that picky about our associates.

And in the case of that letter to Hindus - I'll get back to that.

Some Kinda Plot?

For those whose world isn't complete without some sort of vast conspiracy: here's another excerpt from that article:
"...Cardinal Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, expressed hope that Hindus and Catholics could work together to address 'the grave and unresolved challenges of our times.'...

"...He expressed hope that 'as people who hold in common the well-being of individuals and communities, may we give greater visibility with every means in our power to a culture that promotes respect, trust and cooperation.' "
I think many folks who are anything but religious also have a concern for "the well-being of individuals and communities." What makes folks like practicing Hindus and Catholics different is that, in my opinion, we have a firmer grip on 'the big picture.' We realize that there's a spiritual component to human nature.

And that, I think, puts us in a better position to understand what needs to be done.

Speaking of which, Haiti is one of many places that could use help. I put together a list of charities back in January, focusing on earthquake relief. A number of the outfits listed are global, though. No pressure. ("Haiti: About the Earthquake, Relief, and Related Topics," Apathetic Lemming of the North (January 15, 2010))

Related posts:



Deepawali, or Diwali as it is called in short, is a five day festival. It begins on Aswini Krishna Trayodasi (13th lunar day of the dark fortnight of the luni-solar month of Aswini) and ends on Kartika Shukla Dwitiya (2nd lunar day of the bright fortnight of the luni-solar month of Kartika). The 2nd and 3rd lunar days of the festival are the most important. In the Southern and parts of the Western states, Naraka Chaturdasi is given importance. Narakasura was a demon born to Lord Vishnu and his divine consort Bhu Devi (or Earth Goddess), in Vishnu’s incarnation as ‘Varaha’. The boy started off well, but became a demon on account of arrogance of power. He had obtained a boon that he can be slayed only by his parents. As atrocities committed by him increased tremendously, Vishnu and Bhu Devi in their incarnations as Lord Krishna and Devi Satyabhama, killed Narakasura. Narakasura’s death is celebrated by people. Nobody in their right minds will worship Narakasura. However, there exists a close parallel between Narakasura’s slaying by Lord Krishna and the New Testament of the Holy Bible. When Krishna (with support from Satyabhama) killed Narakasura, many saints celebrated the event by stating that God (Vishnu is considered an aspect of Supreme God-head by Hindus) so loved humanity, that for their welfare, he sacrificed his own son. The New Testament of the Holy Bible also refers to crucifixion of Lord Jesus Christ (referred to as ‘Son of God’ in the Holy Bible and only child of his mother Virgin Mary) in a similar way. To quote “God so loved the people of the world that for their welfare he sacrificed his son. Whoever remembers this sacrifice shall have ever lasting life.” This Jesus is different from his namesake referred to as ‘Son of Man’ in the Holy Bible. The Son of God’s parents are also worshipped by Christians cutting across denomination barriers, though worship of this Jesus is not allowed by Bible or Church. Similar to the worship of Lord Vishnu and Bhu Devi.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Thanks for the detailed comment on Deepawali/Diwali.

In general, I prefer more abridged comments, with links to extended explanations. I've found that's more convenient for readers. And me, for that matter.

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