Ministry of Interfaith Harmony holds Diwali festival


Diwali or Deepavali, popularly known as the “festival of lights,” is a religious festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-November for different reasons. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BC.
The name “Diwali” is a contraction of “Deepavali” which translates into “row of lamps”. Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one’s house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome. Firecrackers are burst in order to drive away evil spirits. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends
On late Thursday night, the Ministry of National Harmony, in collaboration with Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), held a Diwali festival at the National Art Gallery (NAG) to bring peace, prosperity, progress and happiness to all sections of the society and promotes goodwill among all communities. The event was attended by the large number of people including federal ministers, parliamentarians, diplomats, dignitaries, community and religious leaders and students.
Adviser to Prime Minister for National Harmony Dr Paul Bhatti while addressing on the occasion said government was committed to ensure equal rights for all minority communities as enshrined in Constitution of Pakistan and UN Declaration of Human Rights.
He said the government attached due importance to the minorities that was why the Hindus’ festival of Diwali was being observed at official level.
Dr Paul said, “May this festival of lights dispel darkness and gloom and bring joy, happiness and prosperity to the people of our country,” and added that the festival signified the victory of good over evil.
He said it was a festival in which all communities could rejoice in amity and friendship and celebrate the solidarity of the nation. “I also wish to reiterate our commitment to respect and uphold the UN resolution calling for interfaith harmony and the pledges made by the government to safeguard the rights of all minorities,” he added.
Bhatti said minorities in Pakistan had suffered because of terrorism and poverty. He said issues like Kashmir dispute, Afghan wars, terrorism, and unstable governments in the past had hit the minorities hard.
He said the condition of religious minorities could be improved by safeguarding their rights, ensuring life safety, imparting education, providing legal support, security, real protection of the freedom and rights of citizenship through interfaith harmony dialogue.
Talking about steps taken by the government for the minorities in Pakistan he said 4 seats have been reserved for minorities in Senate, 5 percent quota has been fixed in government jobs and 11 August has been declared as minority day.
Minorities’ protection bill will soon be tabled in the National Assembly to introduce Marriage Registration Act for Sikh, Hindu, Parsi and Bhai communities in the country, he added.


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