What should i do this diwali

This is how the “Christmas festival” Diwali runs in the Hindu temple in Emmenbrücke

This is how the “Christmas festival” Diwali runs in the Hindu temple in Emmenbrücke

Light festivals play an important role in almost all religions: Hindus also celebrate the so-called "Diwali" festival, which has many parallels to the Christian solemn festival. A report from the Hindu temple Emmenbrücke and a video from the colorful festival.

It's Tuesday at 7 p.m. In the new Hindu temple in Emmenbrücke, which was dedicated to the goddess Sri Rajarajeswary Amman in June of last year, there is a happy atmosphere. And there is a reason for that: On this evening devout Hindus celebrate their traditional Diwali Festival of Lights, one of the most important festivals of the Hindu religions.

The ringing of the temple bell signals the official opening of a colorful and opulent ceremony, which is led by the Hindu priest Saseetharen Ramakrishna Sarma and which seems almost "exotic" for Western visitors, who are present in large numbers on the occasion of the Week of Religions. The 7-year-old daughter of the Hindu priest is responsible for ringing the temple bell that evening, and she takes on this task with great joy, similar to what the acolytes do in the Catholic Church during the Eucharist.

Light symbolism is central

In the center of the puja (worship ritual) are the numerous altars and statues of gods, on which various ordination rituals have already been performed by the priest before the service. The curtains of the altars are drawn back and the deities are "awakened" so that their attention is later directed to the believers. They are washed, dressed and decorated with flowers.

Later, the Hindu priest speaks the traditional prayers to the Hindu deities in the ancient Indian language, which is sacred for Hindus, Sanskrit - a language that is as difficult to understand for most believers as Latin was used in the services of the Catholic Church in earlier times.

In addition to the various gifts such as flowers, milk, honey or fruits that are offered to the gods, the light symbolism is also of central importance during the ceremony: the worship of a god or goddess is completed when the priest blasts the battle flame three times waves before the deity, as Saseetharen Ramakrishna Sarma explains: "When he waves the flame for the first time, I ask for peace in the world, the second time for peace for the land and the third time, finally, for peace for all life." At the end of the service, the Hindu priest brings the previously sacrificed light to the believers. They stroke the flame three times with their hands and touch their face, eyes and hair, with which they absorb the divine warmth.

"The Diwali festival is comparable to the Christian Christmas festival," explains Ramakrishna: "It is a happy festival with good food, sweets and gifts." In many places, oil lamps would be lined up to remind people that an evil demon named Narakasura was once defeated. While the Christians in the Advent season express the arrival of Jesus with the gradual lighting of the four candles on the Advent wreath, the chains of lights in Hinduism refer to the saving work of God Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi. In Sri Lanka, large fireworks are lit at the Hindu Festival of Lights.

Swiss guests are impressed by the ceremony

The 30 or so Swiss guests were impressed, many of whom were taking part in such a ceremony for the first time as part of the Week of Religions. Daniel Ammann, who works as a theologian and pastor in a Lucerne parish, describes his impressions with enthusiasm: “Here I experience a real festival of the senses and community, which touches me deeply. I feel how the devout Hindus absorb the divine energy of a cosmic force during the service, and I am happy to be able to participate as a guest too. " An older woman from Lucerne says: "I am overwhelmed by the variety and colorfulness of the rituals and processions in the Hindu temple." And her companion said twice: "It's a very positive experience for me, and I would like the Swiss to show a little more tolerance towards other religions."

Breaking down prejudices

Nicola Neider Ammann, who, as the head of the Migration / Integration department of the Catholic Church in Lucerne, helped organize the event, is delighted with the positive response from the population: “It is important to us to ensure the colorful variety with such events to make the religions visible and to enable encounters with the believers of other religions. We would like to make a contribution to promoting mutual understanding and reducing existing prejudices. "

Note Information on other events as part of the “Week of Religions” can be found at www.woche-der-religionen.ch