On Friday 21 October 2022, the first of a number of Diwali events started to take place and in Luxembourg took place one that included the presence of the President (Dr. Lakshmi Vyas) and VicePresident (Krishna Kripa Dasa) of the Hindu Forum Europe. The event, organized by the Hindu Forum Luxembourg had different personalities and guests attending the celebration, including the Deputy Chief of Mission for India to the European Union, Mr Debasish Prusty.
Diwali, the Festival of lights in Hinduism, according to the Religious Festivities Calendar of the Spanish government Foundation Pluralism and Coexistence “Is the most widely celebrated and accepted by all orientations both in India and outside Asia. It is celebrated for five days between mid-October and mid-November of the common calendar. It worships Lakshmi, goddess of fortune, and also commemorates the victorious return of the god Rama after his exile. It is a festival characterised by merriment, gifts, new clothes, and celebrations in houses that are carefully cleaned and lights are lit. In the temples, it is the main celebration where they are decorated and illuminated to signify the triumph of light over darkness.” You can find more about it here.
The opening ceremony of the event was performed by Krishna Kripa Dasa (aka Juan Carlos Ramchandani), who while being the Vice President of the Hindu Forum Europe, is also the President of the Spanish Federation of Hinduism, which is working to unite the Hindu community in Spain to guarantee for all Hindus the rights that other younger religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam and even Buddhism already have in Spain.
The ceremony performed by Krishna Kripa Dasa at the start of the evening, consisted in the offering of five elements (fire, water, wind, earth and sky), offering incense and other items to the pooja, blowing on the conch and ringing a bell.
Ambi Venkataraman, President of the Hindu Forum Luxembourg (and one of the 13 original founders of the Indian Association Luxembourg), and Lakshmi Vyas, President of the Hindu Forum Europe, welcomed Debasish Prusty, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of India to European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg, as special guest for this occasion. Many of the 100+ attendees were from Luxembourg but included numerous participants coming from Spain, UK, Belgium, Netherlands and others.
Lakshmi Vyas, President of the Hindu Forum Europe (HFE), presented a brief history of HFE and showed a series of photographs chronicling the activities of the HFE over the past few years since its formation in 2006. Vyas is Former Principal of Elphinstone College, Mumbai, and has authored three books on Environmental Science, published more than thirty research papers on International journals of repute and is a follower of Iyengar Yoga. Her current mission is to unite the Hindus and represent them in UK and the European institutions.
Ambi Venkataraman talked about the HFL (formed in 2017) and its activities, explaining the link the venue (the Lycée Michel Rodange in Luxembourg-Merl) has had with thee HFL – based on student exchanges.
Debasish Prusty, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy, wished everyone present a happy Diwali and said how he regarded everyone attending as ambassadors, bringing Diwali across Europe.
As reported by chronicle.lu , India has many festivals, with Diwali – a five-day festival of Lights – being the one celebrated by all religions in the country and considered by many to be the country’s most important holiday. In northern India, they celebrate the story of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after he defeated Ravana by lighting rows of clay lamps. Southern India celebrates it as the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura. It is a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.
The formal part of the evening was followed by a cultural programme of dance, with Arsha performing a Kathak dance, Ragasudha performing a Bharatnatyan dance, and Nishi Joshi-Bhatt performing a semi-classical dance, all accompanied by appropriate music.
In following the tremendous respect Hinduism scriptures have for diversity and the different understandings of religions, among others, representatives of the Church of Scientology in Europe were invited to participate, in recognition of the so much needed interfaith dialogue and cooperation in Europe.
Ivan Arjona, the representative of the Scientologists, accepted the invitation and while wishing a wonderful Diwali to all Hindus in Europe, offered two unique commemorative samples of the scriptures of Scientology, written by its founder L. Ron Hubbard, one of them a translated version of Dianetics in Hindi, and the other the book of sermons and ceremonies translated into Spanish.
According to a report from Chronicle.lu, this was followed by a classical Tamil song performance by Smt. Uma Rangarajan. Youngsters Om Sankar and Diya Ganesh also sang and Ms Vedhikha (Bharatanatyam dance) and a young troupe (Bollywood semi-classical dance) also performed reflecting the family and community spirit of the event. Those attending then partook in an Indian meal provided by the Indian restaurant Kripa, with dancing to round off the celebration.