Bahai News - Festivals are universal in nature 23 October 2000

Festivals are universal in nature

By A Staff Reporter

MUMBAI: "Festivals should not be classified. All festivals are universal in nature and belong to humanity... not to a particular faith alone," observed Prof. S A Upadehyaya, director of the department of Sanskrit and ancient culture of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. He was speaking at a seminar on `Festival of Faiths -- for peace, understanding, amity and national integration', held on Sunday at St. Xavier's college.

The seminar was held under the auspices of World Federation of Inter-Religious Councils, Zoroastrian College Interfaith Peace studies department, St. Xavier's college inter-religious studies department and the Jewish religious Union. Representatives from different faiths discussed their festivals and their significance.

Mohan Ingole, head of department of commerce at Elphinstone college, spoke on the festivals of Buddhism. He said, "Buddhist festivals are commonly based on the events of Lord Buddha's life and teachings and there observance is based on the Lunar calendar." Among the festivals he discussed were the Therwada festivals, the New year, Wesak and Vaishakhi.

The festivals of the Bahai faith, were discussed by Djena Sunavala, member of the management committee of the New Era High School at Panchgani. "There are no rituals or customs followed in the celebration of Bahai religions," she noted, adding, "But each festival brings the message of peace, togetherness and happiness to humanity. She discussed the festival of `rizwaan' which Bahais observe across the world and shared that the Bahais are spread in over 233 countries and independent territories across the world.

Father Lance Prabhu, head of St. Xavier's college inter religious studies department gave the spiritual message of the immensely popular festival of Christmas. "The holy crib where Lord Jesus was born is seen with shepherds, camels, cows the wise men, all together with the lord. This reflects cultural diversity," he observed.

The significance of Id-ul-fitr and Moharram, the two main festivals followed by Muslims, was shared by member of the St Xavier's college religious studies department, Prof. Zohair Filmwalla. He said, "Id is considered as a celebration of vicotry over one's undesirable or evil instincts." David Haeems, vice-president of the Jewish Religious Union spoke about the two main Jew festivals -- Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. He discussed the rituals observed during these two festivals.

Sevantilal Shah, president of the Jain Swetambar Murtipujak Vidyarthi Bhawan delivered a talk on Jain festivals. Elaborating on the teachings of Jainism he said, "Non-violence is a virtue that extends to all religions and doesn't remain confined to Jainism alone. And non-violence does not merely denote the absence of violence but also absence of fear and jealousy."

Festivals of the Zoroastrians were discussed by member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Dinaz Patrawala. Joginer Singh Sethi, founder of the Guru Tegh Bahadur Nam Seva Society, spoke about the teachings of Sikh gurus. Dr V M Dhalla, member with the committee of the Temple of Understanding, Indian Chapter, spoke on Shinto-Taoism-Confucianism. Discussing the teachings of the native Japanese religion, Shinto, regarding festivals, he said, "It teaches that the gods descend from heaven during festivals." He further elaborated on the teachings of China's foremost sage Confucius.

©Copyright 2000, The Times of India

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