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Diwali (Deepavali) 2011

Significance | Greetings & Wishes | National Teach Diwali in School Day | Diwali Toolkit | Senate Diwali Resolution

Diwali Blogs: Huffington Post | On FaithBeliefnet | Patheos

Significance

Perhaps the most widely recognized Hindu festival, Diwali, or Deepavali, will be celebrated globally October 26, 2011.  Diwali, the “Festival of Lights” which symbolizes the victory of dharma, and good over evil, is the one of the most celebrated festivals in the Hindu diaspora. The word is a variation of the Sanskrit word Deepavali, and refers to the rows of earthen lamps celebrants place around their homes. Hindus believe that the light from these lamps symbolizes the illumination within the individual that overwhelms ignorance, represented by darkness.  In addition to the lighting of lamps, many in India celebrate the night of Diwali with colorful firecrackers.
 
Many Hindus recognize Diwali as a day celebrating the return of the avatar Lord Rama (the incarnation of Lord Vishnu), His wife Sita and brother Lakshman to their capitol, Ayodhya, after 14 years of exile. The residents of Ayodhya, overjoyed at the return of their beloved King, lit lamps in His honor. Thus, the entire city looked like a row of lights. Other Hindus commemorate Diwali as the day Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.
 
In addition to the spiritual significance the day holds for Hindus, Sikhs celebrate the release of the Sixth Guru, Hargobind, from captivity by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir, and Jains commemorate Diwali as the day Lord Mahavira, the last of the Tirthankaras, attained Nirvana, or liberation, after his death in 527 B.C.
 
While the reasons for what it commemorate, Diwali is a time for dana (charitable giving) and seva (selfless service).  The alleviation of tangible forms of suffering, such as hunger, disease, and poverty, is an essential component of the Hindu tradition. Service is worship, no less than performing a puja or practicing meditation or studying scripture.
 
In the spirit of Diwali, HAF urges you to donate your time and resources for the upliftment of those in need.  Remember to support your favorite charities this Diwali through both dana and seva.
 
"Give. Give with faith. Do not give without faith. Give with sensitivity. Give with a feeling of abundance. Give with right understanding." - Taittiriya Upanishad

Greetings & Wishes

Congressional, State, and Local Leaders
 
"On behalf of my family and the great state of Ohio, I wish the Hindu American community great peace and joy during Diwali. As you exchange gifts and sweets with family and friends, you celebrate a sacred tradition that affirms the power of light over darkness and good over evil. And you do so by bringing the cultural identity of the world’s largest democracy to the world’s oldest, reflecting the deep bond between the people of India and the people of the United States. It is a bond seen in the tapestry of America’s diversity. It is a bond strengthened by successive generations of Hindu Americans who live, work, and raise families in Ohio’s cities, small towns, and rural communities. And it is a bond enlightened by a diya’s glow in homes and communities across the country. My warmest wishes to all of you for a safe and joyous Diwali."
-Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
 
"Diwali represents a time of year when Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains throughout India, the United States, and the world celebrate important, time-honored festivals. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year, and it symbolizes the victory of knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. Hindus celebrate this triumph by lighting small earthen lamps around their homes and praying for health, knowledge, peace, and prosperity in the coming year. On the same day, Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Diwas, whereas for Jains, Diwali marks the anniversary of Mahavira’s attainment of spiritual liberation. I was recently proud to cosponsor Senate Resolution 291, which recognized the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is home to such a rich diversity of religions and traditions, and I would like to express my warmest wishes to those observing this occasion in Pennsylvania, the United States, and the rest of the world. It is a time of year when Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains join together with their families and friends in celebration of great achievements. Diwali mubarak ho."
-Senator Robert P. Casey (D-PA)
 
"Our nation is built on its diversity, and we honor the symbols and traditions of Americans who have made our country what it is today. Indian Americans are an important part of our social and cultural fabric, and Diwali is a time to celebrate community, family, and hope for the future. That’s why we must celebrate Diwali each year and recognize its significance. "
-Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
 
"In recognition of the impressive contributions made by the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain communities in the United States, as well as the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali, I am very proud to sponsor a resolution in the United States Senate marking this special occasion and expressing our deepest respect for these communities. Diwali also marks the beginning of the new year for many Hindus, and I hope you enjoy a healthy and peaceful festival of lights."
-Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
 
Click here to download the Diwali greeting (pdf) from Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD).
Click here to download the Diwali greeting (pdf) from Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA).
 
"Namaste! I send warm Diwali greetings to the Hindu American community. As the proud representative of large Hindu, Jain, and Sikh American communities in Queens, I have had the opportunity to witness several beautiful Diwali festivals. As the “festival of lights,” Diwali conveys an important message that transcends religions: the necessity of doing good and bringing light to the world. I wish you all a very happy Diwali."
-Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
 
"I am pleased to extend warm wishes to the Indian community in honor of Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Also known spiritually as “the awareness of the inner light”, Diwali encourages all of us to strive toward becoming better people, no matter our beliefs or nationality. I join with the Hindus, Sikhs and Jains in the Southeast Michigan community and around the globe in celebrating this important and festive holiday."
-Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI)
 
"Please accept my warmest wishes as you begin to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights. I'm captivated each year by the unity and good will which embodies this holiday. There is a prominent South Asian community in my home district of Orange County, so I am truly fortunate to experience firsthand the warmth and generosity Diwali spreads throughout our neighborhoods. Diwali creates an unique atmosphere, practiced by many and appreciated by all. Again, I extend my best wishes to you on this auspicious occasion and wish you a happy Diwali."
-Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) 
 
"I would like to congratulate the Hindu community as it celebrates the very festive occasion of Diwali. Diwali signifies the universal goal of eliminating ignorance by pursuing knowledge and having a greater understanding of one’s surroundings. As a longtime friends of the Hindu community, I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Diwali and a very prosperous new year."
-Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)
 
"Priya and I wish everyone the heartiest and warmest wishes for a very happy Diwali! This day marks the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil, but it also is a day of service and generosity to our fellow man. I hope we all remember to give back to our communities even as we rejoice in our blessings from the past year. Happy Diwali again!"
-Raja Krishnamoorthi, Candidate for Congress
 
"During this 'Festival of Lights,' I hope that my fellow Hindus, people of other faiths and nonbelievers can all rejoice in the celebration of the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya and its emergence from darkness into light. May we take this occasion to ensure that we continue to shine a light on the causes of equality, unity and peace on earth. For it is up to us to illuminate these just efforts and bring about the joy and happiness that represent the true spirit of this festival. Happy Diwali to all!"
-Dr. Manan Trivedi, Candidate for Congress (PA-6)
 
"It is my great honor to offer best wishes to all Americans on the occasion of Diwali - the festival of lights. This is a day when members of some of the world's oldest religions celebrate the triumph of good over evil.  Diwali is a time for celebration, but it is also a time for reflection - a time when we must remember that there are always other less fortunate then ourselves.  Best wishes again from the City of Fremont!"
-Bob Wasserman, Mayor, City of Fremont, CA
 
"I want to wish everyone a happy Diwali. This festival of lights is an important holiday where we can reflect on what matters most in life. It's also a fun holiday with sweets and fireworks. Diwali has always been a festive time in my family."
-Ro Khanna, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of Commerce
 
"Memories of celebrating Diwali with my close friends and family are some of my fondest childhood memories. Now, seeing how Diwali has truly become a globally celebrated tradition certainly warms my heart. I wish everyone a joyous Diwali celebration and a healthy year ahead that allows us to cast off all negative feelings and carry on with a positive spirit to spread our collective lights in service to our community."
-Ash Kalra, City Councilmember, San Jose City, CA
 
"Greetings from Fremont, CA. Here is wishing all Hindus worldwide a warm and wonderful Diwali. As we celebrate Diwali with your family and friends, let us remember the significance of this important festival and the values and traditions that we pass on to the next generation. We should also use this as an opportunity to engage and inform our larger communities about Diwali and its place in the Hindu tradition. I plan to talk to my daughter's second grade class about Diwali. Let us collectively pause and take the time to enjoy the warmth of our family, friends and colleagues around this time of year. Happy Diwali everyone."
-Anu Natarajan, City Councilmember, Fremont, CA
 
"At this auspicious time, I extend diwali greetings to all, as well as my gratitude to HAF for its invaluable efforts on behalf of Hinduism and Hindus. Many blessings for Diwali and beyond - may we always engage in dharmic conduct. May good triumph over evil, and may we be guided to discover our inner light and joy. Happy Diwali and wishes for a joyous, prosperous New Year!"
-Anjali Lathi, Board of Directors, Union Sanitary District, CA
 
"I am honored to offer my warm and heartfelt wishes to the Hindu American Foundation community and all others in this joyous celebration of Diwali. In these times of significant turmoil and change, it is important to remember the underlying meaning of Diwali—the belief that light outshines darkness and that ultimately good always triumphs over evil. I hope we are all able to spend this Diwali with our family and friends in peace and happiness and with light shining upon us. Happy Diwali and best wishes for the new year ahead."
-Shefali Razdan Duggal, Democratic Political Activist
 
Hindu Religious Leaders
 
"Diwali is the festival of lights that is celebrated all over India and by all religious denominations. Hindus the world over enthusiastically participate in this celebration. The main story behind the celebration is Lord Rama's return to Ayodhya after fourteen years of sojourn in the forest. During which period Rama visited many sages, made alliances with different tribal chieftains and killed Ravana who was a menace to world peace and harmony. Ravana who grabs with twenty hands and consumes with ten mouths is a perfect representation of the modern consumerist material man. Rama who symbolizes inner peace and bliss, who was born by self disciplined Dasaratha, is the ideal of enlightenment. Thus the message of Diwali is the victory of self-knowledge and moderation over self-indulgence and profligacy. To celebrate Diwali means to enjoy inner bliss,reduce our personal needs, light the lamp of wisdom in the community and share our gifts and resources with the marginalized and needy. Let this year's Diwali observance be a conscious commitment to the philosophy of 'less is more'."
-Swami Bodhananda, Sambodh Foundation
 
"Awareness of Diwali in the United States continues to expand each year. Since 2003, Hallmark has put Diwali on its annual list and currently prints eleven cards for the occasion. Even our President has taken to celebrating it in the White House. In many countries where Diwali is celebrated, individuals of all religious backgrounds join in the fun and festivities. We hope to see a similar evolution of this key festival in the United States, making Diwali a time when American Hindus reach out to other faiths with Diwali’s universal message of the victory of good over evil, of light over darkness."
-Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, Publisher, Hinduism Today
 
"We wish everyone a joyous Diwali and New Year! Today is a day for everyone not only to reconcile one’s financial books but also one’s spiritual books. We should pray to God to forgive us for all our mistakes this past year and to give us the wisdom and strength to not make them the next year. May everyone have a prosperous New Year and may there be peace throughout the world. May we all come closer to God and remain well physically, mentally and spiritually."
-His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj from Mumbai
 
"Diwali is a time set aside especially to nurture what is good for us (sreyas) rather than what is pleasant (preyas). This is demonstrated by Arjuna just before the Mahabharata war started. It was at this point that Arjuna uttered the greatest prayer of surrender in the Bhagavad Geeta. karpanyadoso pahata swabhavah prichchhami twam dharma sammudhachetah yacchhreya syaan nischitan bhruhi tanme shishyas teaham shadhi mam prapannam. O lord Krishna my mind is overpowered by weakness and i am confused as to what is right or what is wrong I take shelter and guidance as am your disciple. we are divine beings having a human experience rather than human beings having divine experience. This should be our life long remembrance. Divali is a good time to re-enforce and continue to nurture this wisdom. May we remove the layers of darkness so that inner divine light radiate. Happy Divali Mother lakshmi's blessings "
-Swami Parameshananda
 
"The lights that shine and dazzle and bring so much joy and cheer during Diwali serve as reminders for us to look within our heart in order discover the ever-effulgent light of consciousness—the Light without which even the sun and the moon and the stars, what to speak of fire and electricity, are powerless to illumine anything. My heartfelt Diwali greetings to all. Hari Om."
-Swami Tyagananda, Vedanta Society (Boston), & Hindu Chaplain, Harvard University and MIT
 
"Joyful Diwali greetings to all. May the light of Diwali shine in our hearts and may we recognize that same effulgent light in everyone we encounter."
-Pravrajika Vrajaprana, Vedanta Society of Souther CA/Santa Barbara
 
Click here to download the Diwali greeting (doc) from Swami Chinanand Saraswati, President & Spiritual Head, Parmarth Niketan Ashram.
Click here to download the Diwali greeting (pdf) from Swami Maheshwarananda.
Click here to download the Diwali greeting (doc) from Sadhu Prof. V. Rangarajan, Bharatamata Gurukula Ashram.
Click here to download the Diwali greeting (pdf) from Swami Sarveshananda, National Director, Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHYK) West.
Click here to view the video from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Art of Living.
Click here to dowload the Diwali greeting (jpg) from Shri Vrajrajkumarji Mahodayshri.
 
Community Leaders
 
"The Hindu festival of Diwali is celebrated by followers of four religions and is a remarkable example of how pluralism is inherent in Dharmic traditions like Hinduism. The common thread in all these celebrations is the victory of good over evil, of prosperity over poverty, of hope over despair and of light over darkness. All human beings yearn for these things. May the festival of Diwali be the doorstep through which the universal and eternal teachings of Hindu Dharma are accepted by everyone in this increasingly pluralistic world."
-Vishal Agarwal, Recipient of HAF's 2010 Dharma Seva Award
 
"All HAF Members,Ramram and Shubh Deepavali to you and your families. May the lord bless you all with peace, prosperity, and good fortune today and in the coming year! May the beauty of Deepavali season fill your home with happiness and bring you joy! May this Deepavali be as bright as ever and bring health and wealth to you and your near and dear ones’ lives! Diwali is about bonding of ritual of a belief that good will always triumph over evil for every dark night is followed by the morning light. May this Deepavali peace and prosperity triumph over darkness and be the spirit of light to illuminate the world! For us, Deepavali is a special time of year for inspiring peace and social harmony. There is always something warm and bright about this time of the year, when everything has a special glow and hearts are full of cheer. It is in this time that I send this special greeting your way to wish you all very happy Deepavali."
-Bhagwati Charan Bhatpare, Civil Rights Activist, Board Member, Sahayog Foundation of Chattisgarh
 
"On this auspicious occasion of Diwali, we extend our warm wishes to the Hindu community and HAF. The Festival of Lights is one of our most festive celebrations, and is one we should share with the entire American and global community. HAF's Diwali Toolkit allows us to do this in our schools here, and we encourage all parents to present it at their children's school."
-Ramesh & Kiran Bhutada, CEO, Star Pipe Products
 
"Happy Diwali! May all be blessed with peace, joy and happiness on this day and every day. I especially offer blessings to the many Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines serving all over the world in defense of freedom--and pray each day for their safe return."
-Lt. Col Ravi Chaudhary, U.S. Air Force
 
"Divali reminds us that there is a higher purpose in life, a spiritual purpose, a quest that calls all of us, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Sihk, Jain, or Jew. Rama's incarnation, or lila, teaches us the path of self-sacrifice, pure living, devotion to truth and the service of others. By understanding that our few short years on earth are but a part of our soul's sojourn toward the Divine, and that we are meant to share the earth's bounties while working humbly to benefit others, awakens within us the peace and harmony that humanity hankers for. That is the deeper spirit of Divali and Rama-raja."
-Anuttama Dasa, Governing Body Commissioner, Minister of Communications, International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
 
"We wish to extend our warmest wishes to everyone on this auspicious occasion of Diwali, the Festival of Lights. May the festive occasion raise our spirits for a bright future with peace and prosperity for all. Happy Diwali!"
-Desh & Jaishree Deshpande
 
"I extend greetings to all for the celebration of the joyous festival of Diwali that has origins in many faiths and cultures of India. A tiny starter earthen lamp called diya lightens many lamps on Diwali and keeps doing so until it has life or we stop using it. While celebrating with family and friends, let us also lighten many lamps of compassion, respect and nonviolence. For many Indians, Diwali also marks the beginning of the New Year, and I wish peace and prosperity for all in the future."
-Naresh Jain, Member of Boards of Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, Educare Foundation, Federation of Jain Associations in North America, and International Jain Sangh
 
"May Diwali, the Festival of Lights bring joy and prosperity to one and all. As this joyous season is here, there is warmth and love all around. May the spirit of light illuminate the world and lead us to path of peace and social harmony. Wish you all a very happy Diwali!"
-Dr. Uma Mysorekar, President, The Hindu Temple Society of North America, Flushing, NY
 
"Hindus of Greater Houston sends Diwali greetings to all HAF members and all our fellow Hindus. May the lights of the season triumph over ignorance and misunderstanding. HGH is pleased to have been working toward peace and understanding through the community-wide celebration of Janmashtami and other Hindu festivals for the past 22 years."
-Vijay Pallod, Hindus of Greater Houston
 
"May the lights of Deepawali illuminate our minds with clarity of what really matters in our life, what is important and what is superfluous. May this Diwali illuminate our hearts with a sense of connectedness with Nature and compassion for all living beings.May it bring warmth and good cheer in all homes, energize us to follow the example of Lord Rama to strive for Dharma, the steps of Guru Hargobindji to resist injustice and tyranny, and the message of Lord Mahavir to bring us closer to the “light within”. Wishing all a most joyous Diwali."
-Sudhir Prabhu, M.D.,Joint Secretary, Hindu Collective Initiative of North America; Vice-Chair, Ekal Vidya Foundation USA; Past Chair & President, The Hindu Society of Northeast Florida
 
"Once again, we thank HAF for their tireless efforts in furthering Hindu American advocacy. HAF is critical in representing our 2.3 million strong community and engaging in the political process that is so necessary to ensure that our viewpoints are properly communicated and represented in our national dialogue. On this festive occasion, we wish the dedicated volunteers, staff, and supporters of HAF and all Hindu Americans a Happy Diwali 2011, and best wishes for the new year ahead!"
-Gautam & Anjali Prakash, Founder & Managing Director, Monsoon Capital
 
"On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Carry The Vision (CTV), I would like to congratulate and extend our best wishes to the Hindu, Jain, and Sikh communities of the South Bay as you all celebrate Diwali this month. May the lights of Diwali continue to shine on the world for continued enlightenment!"
-Girish Shah, Board Member, Carry the Vision (CTV), San Jose, CA
 
"In celebrating Diwali this year please can we remember those Hindus who are denied this very right along with the very basic freedom to believe and practice their traditions. Many of us take Diwali for granted and cannot even imagine what it must be like to be forced to practise Hindu Dharma in secret. Perhaps then this should bring us back to the original theme of Diwali. It is not just about lights or celebration, but the triumph of good over evil, the achievement of victory in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity. This is the message and meaning which we should take during Diwali 2011."
-Ranbir Singh, Hindu Human Rights Group
 
"After spending Diwali in the deserts of Kandahar, Afghanistan, I'll always cherish the camaraderie and friendship I share with my family and friends. As we enjoy our festivals and celebrations, I ask you to consider the men and women of the U.S. Military who defend our right to religious liberty in dangerous parts of the world, and pray for their safe return. Thank you for your support."
-Captain Rajiv Srinivasan, U.S. Army
 
"I wish the very best to the HAF team and the Hindus around the world this Diwali season. May this Diwali illuminate our homes and our hearts and give us hope and faith in all our endeavors."
-K. Surikumar, Chairman & CEO, American Reprographics Company
 
"Diwali is a festival that enlivens the spirit of a noble wish of all Hindus "Asatoma Sadgamaya, tamasoma jyotirgamaya..." - 'Lead me from untruth to truth, from darkness to light' - a mantra from Bhradaranyaka Upanishad. It is essentially the American dream of pursuit of happiness and hence Diwali is a perfect festival for all Americans to celebrate and to cherish the victory of good over evil - basically a natural law or Dharma as we call it. Happy Diwali!"
-Ashwini Surpur, Director, Yoga Therapy, Yoga Bharati
 
"Greetings to everyone on the auspicious day of diwali. In addition to being a religious celebration for Hindus wherever they may have settled in the world, diwali is also a cultural festival in which all communities are inspired to participate actively. Since the ancient Vedic times, diwali has been perceived as the battle of light against darkness--a tiny flame’s determination to illuminate the earth and the sky setting them free from the all-enshrouding darkness. People find in the will of the tiny flame their own resolve to wade across the ocean of adversities filling them with a renewed confidence. Since it is a festival that inspires universal goodness and prosperity for all beyond cultures and continents, diwali today has become an international festival breathing a strong sense of belonging in all."
-Shrinivas Tilak, Independent research scholar, Montreal, Canada
 
"On behalf of Indo-American Community Federation (IACF-USA) and the Global organization of the People of Indian origin (GOPIO-San Francisco), I request you and the members of your esteemed organization to accept my warmest greetings on the auspicious occasion of Diwali celebration. As this day marks an end to ignorance, hatred and violence, I pray that our global community comes together in solving the root cause of issues which lead to any division within the human race."
-Jeevan Zutshi, Founder, Indo-American Community Federation (IACF-USA) & President, Global Organization of the People of Indian Origin (GOPIO - San Francisco)
 
Academics
 
"On this auspicious occasion of Diwali, please accept my heartfelt wishes for a year filled with blessings, happiness, and good health. While it is natural to mark this joyous day by celebrating, let us also use the occasion to pause and take stock of our lives and priorities-- individually and collectively. Diwali reminds us, through the wisdom of the sacred narratives associated with it and through the significance of the traditions and rituals that surround it, that we abound in opportunities to choose light over darkness. As we observe Diwali this year, may we re-dedicate ourselves to living out our spiritual principles in all that we do. May we see this one sacred day as the first in a year full of sacred days ahead, each one giving us a new chance to help and heal rather than to divide or destroy. May we choose to be instruments in the hands of the Divine, humble but bold carriers of light in a world that is so desperately in need of it."
-Vineet Chander, Coordinator for Hindu Life, Princeton University
 
"Diwali is a celebration of the return of Lord Rama from His exile. To welcome Rama back to Ayodhya, the residents cleaned their homes and lit lamps. The cleansing of the homes is symbolic and very significant for all because it serves as a reminder that if we want to welcome Rama (God) into our heart and illuminate it with spiritual knowledge and aspiration, we will need to cleanse from our heart vices such as greed, envy, anger, and pride."
-Gadadhara Pandit Dasa, Hindu Chaplain, Columbia University
 
"To the Hindu American Foundation and all its friends and supporters, a happy and auspicious Diwali. HAF’s efforts play a vital role in preserving the eternal wisdom of Sanatana Dharma, and of protecting its integrity as it continues to enrich the lives of Americans of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. May you continue to shine the light of knowledge in this time of great ignorance."
-Phil Goldberg, author of American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West
 
"May the light of Diwali illuminate us and connect us all, human to human, human to Divine, and human to Earth in this time of diminishing biodiversity, pollution, and population explosion."
-John Grim, Yale Divinity School, Forum on Religion and Ecology
 
"Dear Hindu Friends: As you celebrate Diwali, I am pleased to send you a special word of greeting. The Hindu community is an important part of the fabric of interfaith relations that is so precious to the future of America and the world. May Diwali this year be a special time of blessing for all of you and your families."
-Clifton Kirkpatrick, Visiting Professor of Ecumenical Relations, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
 
"Holy days are a common occurrence in India, since nearly every day is considered holy by some religious or cultural somewhere in the country. While many of these holy days are celebrated only in a particular area, others are pan-Indian, while a few also connect the multiple religious traditions that have their origins in the land, i.e. Diwali, one such holy day, is celebrated by Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs. Although there are different reasons, both religious and historical, why the day is sacred to each tradition, what they essentially have in common is the belief that commemorates freedom from ignorance, darkness, and evil, and an awakening, or reawakening, of light, goodness, and wisdom. Diwali is not only celebrated in India, but all the lands where Indians have migrated as well. It has become a unifying festival for Indians and the followers of all the India-based religious traditions. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Hindu American Foundation, this auspicious has been officially acknowledged in by the U.S. government as a holy day as well. As more Americans become aware of the holy day and its meaning, let us hope that we will all be inspired by it to move our country away from the divisions and darkness that are so prevalent today and into the light of wisdom and goodness.”
-Ramdas Lamb, Associate Professor, Department of Religion, University of Hawai'i
 
"Diwali, celebrated by Hindus and Jains alike, is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, and more fundamentally, the triumph of the light of wisdom over the darkness of ignorance. It is an opportunity to wish our friends and loved ones well for the coming year, and also to reflect on the light and the darkness within our own lives. May the light of wisdom shine ever more brightly on all of us in the coming year: on a world that needs wisdom now more than ever."
-Dr. Jeffery Long, Associate Professor and Chair, Religious Studies & Co-Director, Asian Studies Elizabethtown College
 
"Brothers and Sisters in the Hindu community. I greet you on the festival of Diwali in the spirit of faith and prayer. My hope that all religions, Hindus and Christians in particular, can work together for peace and justice throughout this world. May the Hindu community experience a renewed strength of spirit from the celebration of Diwali in 2011."
-Rev. John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, Ph.D., Professor of Social Ethics, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago
 
"Even in the midst of dejection and despondency, the human spirit always uplifts us by the hope for the eventual victory of what is morally right and socially good. This historical optimism is symbolized in Divali: the Hindu festival of light which is to affirm that good with ultimately triumph over evil, knowledge over ignorance, Light over darkness. And so one this auspicious day in the Hindu calendar let us wish the Hindu world a Happy Divali!"
-V.V. Raman, Emeritus Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)
 
"The lights of Diwali are the inextinguishable flames of faith and hope in the ultimate triumph of goodness over evil. These lights remind us also that, in this perpetual struggle, we must choose the side of virtue.. The lights of Diwali also testify to our human yearning for a world that is free of hate, fear and violence and where there is abundance of compassion and happiness. Such a world will not be realized unless we work together to overcome suffering. My you, your family, your country and our world be blessed with peace and prosperity."
-Anantanand Rambachan, Professor & Chair, Religion Department, St. Olaf College, MN
 
"With my Christian greetings to all celebrants of the Diwali Festival I add my prayer that all of us will be witnesses to justice and care for all citizens of our respective countries, the USA and India. We both have much work to do to insure the coming of a day when rich and poor, famous and obscure, enjoy the freedom and dignity of justice done to their material and spiritual needs."
-Donald W. Shriver, President Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary, NY
 
"As we light candles this Diwali, let us recognize that we are ourselves are candles, and that our own inner light can help illuminate the light in others. Let us pray that the light of Diwali helps dispel the darkness and ignorance in the world. And let us embrace the ancient wisdom of the Upanishads - 'May we move from ignorance to truth, from darkness to light, from death to immortality - and may all being find peace.' Here's wishing the entire HAF community a peaceful and prosperous Diwali."
-Varun Soni, Ph.D., Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern CA
 
"Please allow me to express my warmest wishes for a bright and festive Diwali to all. May this joyful holiday ushers a year of prosperity, peace, and merriment for all, especially to American Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and around the world."
-Amin Tarzi, Director, Middle East Studies, Marine Corps University
 
Click here to download the Diwali greeting (pdf) from Dr. Kapil Kapoor, Former Rector, Professor of English & Concurrent Professor Sanskrit Studies Jawaharlal Nehru University, & Chief Editor Encyclopaedia of Indian Poetics (Sahitya Akademi).
 
Interfaith Leaders
 
"Diwali Mubarak! As a multi-faith believer in and activist for spiritual unity of all religions, I consider Diwali as a gift to humanity from Sanatan Dharma and encourage people of all faith traditions to adopt Diwali as a universal festival symbolizing victory of light over darkness, of knowledge over ignorance, of love over hate...to usher in peace and harmony in our (inner and outer) world!"
-John Ishvaradas Abdallah, World Without Borders Interfaith Sufi Ashram
 
"As the great festival of Diwali approaches, I would like to extend warm greetings as well as many blessings and good wishes to the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities, and in particular to our friends of the Hindu American Foundation. May the lights of Diwali illumine the world and bring happiness, peace and hope to all peoples."
-Andras Corban-Arthen, Director, The EarthSpirit Community, & Trustee, Parliament of the World’s Religions
 
"May this Diwali season bring light, hope and prosperity to Hindus across America and the world. For me, Diwali has become a much-anticipated moment on the calendar to connect with Hindu-Americans in my communities in New York and New Jersey. Congratulations to the Hindu American Foundation on their work in this past year!"
-Rabbi Justus Baird, Director, Center for Multifaith Education, Auburn Theological Seminary
 
"I wish a happy and joyful Diwali to all Hindus in America and around the world. May you have Light, Peace, and Happiness in your homes, and communities. I pray, that we all work together for Peaceful and Just society. All the best,"
-Einat Bauman, Jewish Community Relations Council, Silicon Valley Board Member
 
"I wish Australia's Hindu community all the very best at the time of the Diwali celebrations. May your celebrations gladden the hearts of not only all Hindus, but also of all Australians as you grow into a very significant contributor to the richness of our religious and spiritual diversity."
-The Rev. Gary D. Bouma, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Monash University & UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations – Asia Pacific
 
"On behalf of the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit I want to wish our Hindu, Jain and Sikh friends a joyous Diwali. This Festival of Lights is a marvelous tradition that should serve to remind us all that light overcomes obscurity and ignorance. Together we all need to shine the light of our concern and compassion on the world around us. I hope that in some prayerful way we can all join you. And we hope that you will keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers this week as you celebrate this wondrous festival of Diwali."
-Robert A. Bruttell, Chairman, InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit
 
"The Pagans of Earth Traditions wish to express our appreciation for HAF, and its outreach within the Interfaith Movement. We wish HAF, and all Hindu-Americans, a blessed celebration of reflection, illumination, joy and peace, on this sacred occasion of Diwali, the Festival of Lights. May the flames of knowledge, and the fires of friendship ever burn brightly in our hearts."
-The Rev. Angie Buchanan, Director of Earth Traditions, Building Community for the People of the Earth
 
"As the President of the Mexican American Catholic College, I extend my warm greetings to our Hindu brothers and sisters as they observe the great festival of Diwali! As fellow citizens of this great country and as people of faith, we share the core values of freedom, justice, respect, love, and all that promotes the innate dignity of the human person. This is our common bond that shines brightly in the darkness of so much pain and suffering in our world. May this bond ignite a new awareness of our call to be in solidarity with each other and to protect the great gift of life. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. The light in me, bows to the light in you!"
-Arturo Chávez, Ph.D., President and CEO, The Mexican American Catholic College
 
"We wish our dear brothers and sisters in the Hindu and Sikh communities a happy and healthy Deepawali- we treasure you friendship and support. Love and l'chaim!"
-Lisa Cohen, Jewish community activist
 
"Wishing HAF and all Hindu Americans warm greetings, best wishes and a joyous festival of Diwali 2011. May there be light in every heart and light throughout the world on this auspicious occasion of Diwali."
-Shelly Spiegel Coleman, Executive Director, Californians Together
 
"To my sisters and brothers of the HAF, I extend friendship in our common quest to spread justice, understanding, and a sense that what is sacred dances with us every day. Blessings of light, prosperity, knowledge, great love, and deep practice! "
-T. Thorn Coyle, Founder, Solar Cross Temple & Morningstar Mystery School
 
"On this joyous occasion of Diwali, I’m honored to wish the Hindu, Jain and Sikh communities and everyone whose devotion has created the important Hindu American Association, my very best wishes. May the enlightenment that this sacred holiday observes grow ever brighter in the coming year and may all those who encounter the triumphant Light find their hearts opened and their lives enriched with love and peace."
-Phyllis Curott, J.D., Rev. Priestess, Founder and President, Temple of Ara & Trustee, Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions
 
"It is a great honor for American Jewish committee (AJC) to extend warmest greetings for the celebration of Diwali –the Festival of Lights- to HAF and the Hindu community worldwide. This auspicious and joyous holiday celebrates the triumph of good over evil . We live in challenging times and the Festival of Diwali has such poignant significance. We wish our dear friends of HAF: Happy Diwali-Saal Mubarak!"
-Mervyn Danker, American Jewish Committee Northern California
 
"It is my great honor to offer my best wishes and greetings for a very happy Diwali. I would like to thank HAF for their tireless efforts in furthering Hindu American advocacy. Without this effort, it would be difficult to positively representing the viewpoints of the Hindu community in this country. It is a pleasure to work with your organization and advocate on mutual issues affecting our communities. May the bright lights of Diwali shine upon us all and inspire us to move away from ignorance and darkness and into the light of goodness and wisdom."
-Martha Zaragoza Diaz, Legislative Advocate; Californians Together & California Association for Bilingual Education
 
"On behalf of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, I wish the Hindu American Foundation, Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the globe a joyous and sweet Diwali. The Diwali lamps remind all of us how knowledge illuminates, overwhelming the darkness of ignorance and evil. I send best wishes for a year in which people of all faiths, and none, commit themselves to undoing the darkness of ignorance and to creating the bonds among one another that will create a world filled with light and peace."
-Joyce S. Dubensky, CEO, Tanenbaum
 
"To my friends and colleagues in the Hindu community and in particular to the Hindu American Foundation, on behalf of Interfaith Alliance and our members across the United States, I wish you a happy and joyous Diwali. This Festival of Lights helps us to remember that we must keep our minds and hearts open, that we must appreciate the differences and diversity among us that, together, create a vibrant patchwork quilt of cultures and religions. Followers of every world religion, even those who do not typically identify with the Hindu faith closely, can and should appreciate the joyful and uplifting nature of this celebration of light. Illumination and enlightenment – and being open to both – are cherished by most religions. We recognize this time not only as one of celebration -- and we share in that joy -- but also a time to acknowledge the importance of shining light on ongoing issues involving justice and freedom of all kinds."
-The Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, President, Interfaith Alliance
 
"Best wishes to the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain communities on the occasion of the upcoming Diwali festival. We are all enriched by your presence in this country and I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to send my greetings and warm wishes."
-Patricia Gándara, Ph.D. Professor and Co-Director, Civil Rights Project, UCLA
 
"Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Hindu Community in America and Around the World, On behalf of the United Religions Initiative’s global community, over half-a-million people of diverse faiths in 78 countries, it is a privilege to wish you a joyous and blessed Diwali. During this holy time, may your lives, your homes and your communities be filled with the light of peace, joy and hope. In these turbulent times, where so many seem to live on the razor’s edge between hope and despair, may the light of Diwali inspire Hindus the world over to continue to shine the light of your unique and universal wisdom into our world to illumine a path through these challenging times to an era of mutual respect and cooperation in the human community. May you be richly blessed in this holy season, and may you continue to be a blessing to our world."
-The Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs, Executive Director, United Religions Initiative
 
"On behalf of the students, faculty and trustees of Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, I bring greetings and well wishes for the celebration of Diwali. At Eden Seminary we have come to believe that the strength of the religious conviction and richness of the spiritual expression of our friends and neighbors is a blessing to us. We are so pleased to be connected to the Hindu American Foundation and to so many Hindu women and men. As you may know, light is also an important symbol in our Christian faith. May your celebration of light be meaningful and enriching."
-The Rev. David M. Greenhaw, President, Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO
 
"From the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City, I wish Hindus around the world a joyful Diwali. Theodore Parker, a distinguished 19th-century Unitarian minister, once said, “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one…. But from what I see, I am sure it bends toward justice.” We believe this is the spirit of Diwali as well – that in today’s struggles, just as in the Hindu stories of old, goodness will prevail. May the light of the Diwali lamps fill you with warmth and hope. Many blessings for the new year."
-The Rev. Dr. Galen Guengerich,Senior Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church, New York City
 
"In this hurting world, we pray that Diwali, "The Festival of Lights," will further illumine the path of goodness over evil, hope over despair, knowledge over ignorance. We celebrate in prayer and hope with the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain communities the world over in this joyful celebration of Light."
-The Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, Founding President, The Guibord Center - Religion Inside Out
 
"On behalf of Catholic Relief Services, I extend greetings to all who celebrate Diwali. This Festival of Lights touches on many spiritual traditions when it reminds us that there is light even at times that seem so dark. At CRS, as we work in partnership with people and organizations from many religious backgrounds, we are constantly reminded of our common goal of bringing hope and an integral human development that takes into account the whole person. This is also central to message of Diwali and we at CRS join in honoring and celebrating that message."
-Ken Hackett, President, Catholic Relief Services
 
"Diwali is a festival of light, light is something which is connected with enlightenment, enlightenment of the mind through knowledge of humans, environment and nature. Hinduism has contributed to the betterment of all people for a very long time. Diwali today is my committment to work for peace, justice and healing. Wishing my Hindu brothers and sisters all the best."
-Iftekhar A. Hai, President, UMA Interfaith Alliance
 
"Wishing all our Hindu friends the warmest of greetings as you observe Diwali, the Festival of Lights. May light scatter the darkness. May good overcome evil."
-The Rev. Robert L. Hart, Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
 
"To my friends in the Hindu community I extend my best wishes for a great celebration this Diwali. The victory and renewal of light over darkness is not only a spiritual reality but will become evident in an earthly way as we work together for good in this world. I have a deep respect and great appreciation for the contributions Hindus (as exemplified in HAF) as well as Sikhs and Jains are making to our country and the world. I wish you a great celebration as well as love and harmony in the years to come."
-Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland Church, Longwood, Florida
 
"As President of the CRLMC, it is my pleasure and privilege to extend warm and crackling Diwali greetings for your festive season. As you gather with your families for traditional activities and community celebrations, the significance of good ultimately triumphing over evil is well symbolized by the lighting of oil-filled lamps. Having grown up in Bangalore, I retain pleasant memories of Diwali celebrations there - the houses of friends cleaned and polished up; bright new clothes bought and worn by the entire family; scores of diyas brightly lit around houses, courtyards and streets; and, of course, the ubiquitous bursting of firecrackers, especially the whirling 'chakras' and the whistling 'rockets!' The inspiring aspect of that period for me was the sincere camaraderie regardless of one's faith - Ah, those were some fine days! I wish you Happy Diwali and all the best for this Festival of Lights."
-Kareem M. Irfan, Esq., President, Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago
 
"To all who are celebrating Diwali, I join you in celebrating the triumph of light over darkness; of our harmonious co-existence over conflict and separatedness; of acceptance and tolerance over enmity and distrust; and of forgiveness and love over vengeance and hatred. May we all be guided by the wise and beautiful teachings of Sanatana Dharma, the Path of Light, Truth and Righteousness. Have a blessed Diwali! I would also like to invite your members to join me in celebrating 11.11.11 (2011) as GLOBAL PEACE DAY. We are inviting people all over the world to observe 1 minute's silence for Peace at 11.11am on that day. Please visit www.globalpeacedayusa.org."
-Dr. Amir Farid Isahak, Trustee of URI Global Council, Chairman of Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship (Malaysia), Founder, Al-Ghazzali SUFI Centre for Islamic Spirituality
 
"Shubh Deepawali! 2,538 years ago, on this day, Bhagwan Mahavir attained nirvana (moksha) and with his last death, he is forever free from the cycle of birth and death. His message of unconditional ahimsa (non-violence) towards all living beings; humans and non-humans is most profound. May this Diwali be a precious moment of your life, May Every moment of your Life be Like Diwali, May this festival of lights bring compassion and, Dispel darkness, ignorance, hatred and evil from the hearts and minds of every one."
-Dr. Sulekh C. Jain, Chairman Governing Council, International school for Jain Studies (ISJS) & Past President, Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA)
 
"On behalf of the Board and Affiliates of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC), I would like to extend our best wishes to the Hindu community of the South Bay as you celebrate Diwali this month. May the lights of Diwali, the Festival of Lights, illuminate your paths in the year to come."
-Rev. D. Andrew Kille, Board Chair, Silcon Valley Interreligious Council
 
"We share 'Festival of Lights' as times of rebirth and renewal. I thank God for the respect Diwali demonstrates to all people for tradition and culture. In our differences, we form a divine tapestry that delights the Creator. In our shared hopes, we build up the Good Society in various places. Many people have been enriched by Indian-Americans who are wonderful friends, neighbors and citizens. May each of the four days of Diwali and its traditions inspire all of us better to celebrate and enjoy the goodness of life."
-The Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, NY
 
"We at the Patrick McCollum Foundation send our best wishes for a wonderful Diwali to all our brothers and sisters in the world. May all people celebrate the victory of good over evil as light overcomes darkness. These sacred concepts are shared by many traditions including mine, and I wish peace and happiness to all my HAF friends and their families. Have a wonderful Diwali!"
-Patrick McCollum, Executive Director, the Patrick McCollum Foundation, & Development Director, Children of the Earth, United Nations NGO
 
"May all of the blessings of the Goddesses be upon you. May the sweet songs of our ancestors sustain you. May your deep desires be answered. May your efforts to make the world a better place be realized. May you never hunger, never thirst, and always prosper in this and future lives. Wishing you complete Diwali happiness."
-Barbara McGraw, J.D., Ph.D., Professor, Social Ethics, Law, and Public Life & Director, Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism, Saint Mary's College of California
 
"Best wishes for a joyous celebration of Diwali. May the stories and traditions that you share with one another and with your global neighbors during this festival enhance the light that is within you and within all people. May this celebration of light serve to dispel the darkness of ignorance, evil, and intolerance through the light of peace, respect, honor, and love."
-John C. Murray, Pastor, Hesston Mennonite Church
 
"On behalf of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), it gives me great pleasure to extend warm Diwali greetings to Hindus everywhere. Diwali reminds us once again of the importance of striving selflessly for the triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil."
-Professor Chandra Muzaffar, President, JUST, Malaysia
 
"Life should be celebrated. On this Diwali 2011, I extend congratulations and warmest wishes to all who treasure the triumph of good over evil in their hearts. May the joy of this season bring families together and last throughout the whole year. May all people live in peace. May the remembrance of the one true light within us all bring joy, wisdom, and peace. Take responsibility, remember the joy and wisdom, and make it happen. A Happy Diwali to all.
-John K. Myers, Director, Real Peace World, & CEO, Sharen.com
 
"I would like to express my best and warmest wishes to the Hindu American Community as your Buddhist friend on the occassion of Diwali, the festival of lights. Light is an important image in my tradition of Pure Land Buddhism as well, where we speak of the dharma and Amida Buddha as a light to bring happiness, wisdom and peace to all beings. How wonderful it is that many traditions have this beautiful image in common to remind us all to be compassionate in our diverse society. And how wonderful it is that we have the Diwali festival of lights to bring us all together."
-Rev. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, Vice President, Interfaith Center of New York & Past-President, Buddhist Council of New York
 
"Greetings of Peace, Divine Love and Light to all those who kindle light and celebrate Diwali—the triumph of Truth over the darkness of ignorance, the power of love to overcome hatred, and the way of righteousness to free us from the errors of ego. The community of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment sends our very best wishes to all Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs on this blessed occasion. May we see the light of divine love awakened in hearts everywhere."
-Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian, Spiritual Director, Center for Spiritual Enlightenment
 
"On the occasion of the celebration of the Festival of Diwali, I would like to extend to the Hindu American Foundation, and to Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs everywhere, my heartfelt best wishes. Diwali is a time to reflect on the the victory of good over evil and the lifting of spiritual darkness, and truly, in the world of today, this occasion is one that brings joy and togetherness for millions of adherents here in the United States and throughout the world. May Diwali be a time of great happiness for you, your families, and your communities."
-Ibrahim M.Abdil-Mu'id Ramey, Public Policy Associate, Interfaith Worker Justice
 
"I extend my warmest greetings to American Hindu community on behalf of American Muslim community on the occasion of Deepavli – or “Jashan-e-charaghan”, or “Festival of Lights” to be celebrated on October 26, 2011. Once again let us remind ourselves the deeper significance of the celebration of Deepavli to overwhelm our own ignorance, and prejudices represented by the darkness with enlightenment represented by the illuminations of lamps."
-Shafi Refai, President, United Muslims of America
 
"May the light of our work together overcome all darkness.  Happy Diwali with love, shalom, shanti, salaam, and peace from India."
-Brenda Naomi Rosenberg, Pathways to Peace
 
"On the occasion of Diwali, we extend warmest wishes to our friends at the Hindu American Foundation and all Hindus. May the entire world take inspiration from your enlightened efforts at the time of Diwali and throughout the year to alleviate human suffering through acts of charity and selfless service."
-George Rupp, President, International Rescue Committee
 
"On behalf of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, we wish the Hindu people a joyous and auspicious Diwali! We hope that this holiday season allows you time for celebration with family and friends. May the lights of Diwali illuminate your year and provide you with hope and strength for the future."
-David Saperstein, Rabbi, Director & Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
 
"The Troy-area Interfaith Group recognizes and honors the festival of Diwali. May it be a meaningful day of lights outwardly and inwardly -- lights that warm the heart and transform individuals; lights that kindle the fire of passion in the pursuit of justice and equality for all people. May all of our faith traditions and houses of worship pray for health, knowledge, peace, wealth, and prosperity. May the Divine Light be the light on our way."
-Rev. Charlotte Sommers, Troy-area Interfaith Group, Troy, Michigan
 
"The concept of 'God as Light,' or harbinger of Light, is a common thread that through all the major religions of the world. The celebration of Diwali brings that metaphor to life in a most spectacular way. It is my hope that during this festive season we all meditate on the thought that while it may be appropriate to worship this Light in puja, chanting, fellowship and story, it is even more important that we strive to be that Light in all our circumstances and conditions to those around us."
-Fred Stella, President, Interfaith Dialogue Association & Pracharak, W. Michigan Hindu Temple
 
"I would like to convey our Diwali Greetings to our Hindu brothers and sisters in America. We are working together on many issues in the US for the betterment of our American society and around the world. Diwali, the festival of light has a special significance. Light and darkness are used in the Quran as contrasts, representing diametrically opposed value systems and ways of life. Darkness represents oppression, political and economic injustice, negation of spiritual values and human dignity. Light stands for knowledge, justice, equity, peace and harmony. It gives us a sense of pride to join with the faithful from other traditions to celebrate those positive values and jointly work together to fight against darkness and bring more light and greater commitment to world peace at every level, individual, social, local and regional. Once again when our Hindu brothers and sisters kindle more candles to eradicate darkness, we want to assure them of our support in this mission and look for more collaboration for the common good."
-Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director, Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America
 
"It gives me great pleasure to convey, on behalf of Religions for Peace, our warmest wishes to the Hindu communities around the world for a joyful celebration of Diwali. May this annual festival of light—which calls to mind the Mystery of Transcendent Light that dispels all ignorance— help us all to awaken to universal compassion. May it inspire us to build the Peace that joyfully honors the beauty and dignity of each person."
-Dr. William Vendley, Secretary General, Religions for Peace
 
 "On this wonderful holiday I bring you Greetings on behalf of the Covenant of the Goddess. It is an amazing opportunity to see offerings of service as worship, alleviating suffering, inequality, and the darkness of ignorance. I cannot help but be deeply moved by the vibrant and active Hindu community that I have found in working with the Hindu American Foundation and its members. I will light candles seeking my own inner wisdom in companionship with you and look forward to a long and happy association on this most joyous of festivals."
-Rachael Watcher, Elder National Board, Covenant of the Goddess, Public Information Officer
 
"I would like to extend my best wishes on this Diwali to Hindus worldwide. May the triumph of light over darkness bring more understanding, cooperation, and opportunities to our respective faith communities in the year to come. May the blessings of Lakshmi reach us all in these trying times. - I would like to extend my best wishes on this Diwali to Hindus worldwide. May the triumph of light over darkness bring more understanding, cooperation, and opportunities to our respective faith communities in the year to come. May the blessings of Lakshmi reach us all in these trying times."
-Jason Pitzl-Waters, author of The Wild Hunt blog at Patheos.com, contributor to On Faith at the Washington Post, and co-founder of the Pagan Newswire Collective.
 
Click here to download the Diwali greeting (pdf) by J. Fritz Bazin, Archdeacon, Immigration and Social Justice Ministries.
 

National Teach Diwali in School Day:  Monday, October 24, 2011

Last year, HAF launched the first National Teach Diwali in School Day, and it was a resounding success.  Click here for a recap of the 2010 event. This year, we hope that more of you will participate and send your comments and pictures.  
 
Although Diwali is one of the most widely celebrated Hindu festivals, many of our neighbors, teachers and friends haven’t heard about it. In that light, HAF hopes you will reach out to your children’s teachers and request the opportunity to give a fun and informative Diwali presentation to the entire class. Hinduism teaches vasudhaiva kutumbakam, that the whole world is one family, so why not celebrate this festival with our extended family?
 
Click here to learn more about National Teach Diwali in School Day and to download the Diwali Toolkit.  Also, for additional ideas on presenting Diwali in the classroom, view Aruna Hatti's Gnaana blog post, Presenting Diwali in School.