The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York hosted an event on the occasion of Deepavali on Friday, 9th November 2018, at the Mission premises. The event saw the attendance of Sri Lankan community members in the Tri-State area, both of Hindu faith and others, as well as representatives from other Permanent Missions including the Permanent Representatives and Deputy Permanent Representatives of India, Singapore, and Malaysia, among others. The event commenced with the traditional lighting of the oil lamp.
Swamy Ravi Vaidyanaat, Director of Religious Affairs of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, outlined the signi ficance of Deepavali, and conducted a Hindu religious observance. He explained that Deepavali coincides with the new moon of the Hindu lunisolar calendar, known as the amāsvasya. He stated that the five day celebration begins two days before amāsvasya, and extends two days into the lunar month Kārtik. Thus, the festival serves as an opportune moment to create a new and rejuvenated spirit for the year ahead. He additionally noted the significance of Deepavali in worshipping the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and recited Hindu Shlokas about the Goddess and peace, in Sanskrit with English translation.
Addressing the gathering, Ambassador Dr. Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative, stated that with the significant Hindu community in Sri Lanka, the festival is celebrated as an important national holiday. He noted that during this auspicious festival, light serves as a symbol for knowledge, enlightenment, and the dispelling of spiritual darkness. Noting that Deepavali is a unique celebration of the values of compassion, generosity, togetherness, and peace, Ambassador Perera observed that the message and spirit of Deepavali is one that transcends all boundaries of religion, faith, or culture. He stated, “As Sri Lankans, we hold the values of unity, peace, and compassion especially dear to our heart. At a time when we are mired in harmful forces that attempt to divide us and cast one another as “the other”, this message of inclusion and compassion is one that we must attempt to cultivate. We must generate a culture of peace and understanding among all members of our communities.”
The event concluded with the partaking of a vegetarian dinner, featuring traditional delicacies.
New York, 9th November 2018