Hindu community in Sweden recently stole the limelight after it celebrated the Diwali Festival in Stockholm in front of the Parliament of Sweden on 9th November 2018.
The event was organized by the organizations namely, Hindu Forum Sweden (HFS) and Hindus In Sweden. The program began at 15:45 with blowing of conch to welcome Chitra Paul, President of HFS, and Pran Malhotra, President of Hindus In Sweden. The event was moderated by Kamala Priya.
HFS is an umbrella organization of Hindu Forum Europe (HFE). The aim of the HFE is to:
- Promote shared values of European citizenship, interfaith friendship, and peaceful coexistence.
- Provide support to the European governments and citizens in building communities that are cohesive and integrated.
- Preserve European values of human dignity by drawing on the Hindu ethos that is rooted in respect for all traditions, cultures, religions, and belief.
HFS is working towards the aim of HFE by representing ten Hindu organizations at Swedish level.
The first-ever organized and large-scale Diwali celebration in Sweden at Mynttorget saw the participation of smiling politicians and representatives of inter-religious groups.
MP Anders Österberg (S), MP Margareta Cederfelt (M), Louise Callenberg (S), president of Social democratic party in Huddinge, Stockholm, Kia Hjelte (M), Politician Botkyrka Municipality council, Bahman Tofighian, Chairman of IRIS (Inter-Religious council in Sweden) and Dr. Åke Göransson (Head of Administration of the Support for Religious Organizations Authority), Eva Abrahamsen, Buddhistiska Samfundet (Buddhist Society), Vladan Boskovic (Judiska Församlingen) (Jewish Assembly), Kaj Engelhard (Katolska Kyrkan)(Catholic church), and Vice President from HFE Marie Mandakini Spennare, joined in the Diwali festivities.
Dr. Roland Dahlman of the Consul General of Nepal joined in the festivities.
The Indian Embassy was represented at the Diwali event by Suresh Kumar, first secretary Culture, Consulate.
Hindus in Sweden are a minority community. The support, especially of Sweden’s politicians, is likely to help them become even more visible.
Chitra Paul who is spearheading her campaign to make Hindus more visible in Sweden spoke to www.currentriggers.com. She said it was great that senior political figures of Swedish society saw the merit in her efforts and joined forces with the Hindu community. She hailed the program as a landmark event for the community.
Hindu Priests also thronged the venue of Diwali celebration from all across Sweden. The Hindu Mandir Society (Helenelund) sent Swami Nirdosha while Aashish Sharma and Divendu Ganguli from Bangiya Sanatan Samaj also gave their support to the event.
A diya (earthen lamp) was lit by Hindu Priest Aashish Sharma of Hindu Mandir Society.
Mantras were chanted by the assembled Priests, members of Bangiya Sanatan Samaj, people from the ISKCON, and Veenu Soni, the Yoga and Indian Culture Teacher from the Indian Embassy also joined in.
Dr Åke Göransson from the Head of Administration of the Support for Religious Organizations Authority felt delighted to be at the Diwali gathering. He said:
“I felt honored to be part of Historic Diwali Event and thanks to the organizers who took such a meaningful event. Thanks to you for holding this lamp, which we needed in this cold and dark society. Happy Diwali.”
The support, Chitra Paul hopes, especially of Sweden’s politicians and interreligious groups, is likely to help the Hindus become visible, and also give them the much-cherished acknowledgment for their efforts and contributions towards religious peace and harmony.
She also believes that the message of Diwali; “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance,” will strengthen the spirit of togetherness and enhance peace and joy in the multicultural , ‘open’ and ‘accepting’ Swedish society.
The event was closed by Chitra Paul and Pran Malhotra and Prasadam (sweets) were distributed by the ISKCON. The groups have vowed to hold this event again to spread light, happiness, and cheers.