SPEECH BY LEAS CATHAOIRLEACH OF LIMERICK COUNTY COUNCIL CLLR. MICHAEL SHEAHAN AT DIWALI LAUNCH IN LIMERICK CITY ON SATURDAY 13 NOVEMBER 10
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of Limerick County Council, I am delighted to be able to join you this evening in celebrating India’s largest festival, Diwali.
I wish to extend my gratitude to Doras Luimní for inviting me to attend this celebration and, indeed, address you.
The name itself, Diwali or Deepawali, means a garland of lights which is why it is known as the festival of lights.
The celebration conjures up images of gaiety and happiness, which is something that I welcome especially in the current climate where good news is hard to come by.
The story of Diwali also is comforting. It reassures celebrants that their adversities and challenges, can be overcome.
Most importantly, this festival enables people of Indian origin in Limerick and surrounding counties to keep the culture alive within the local community.
From the initial celebration of Diwali here in Limerick in 2007 when 75 people of Indian original gathered in the City, Diwali has expanded to become a wider celebration of Indian culture and heritage as well as a celebration of interculturalism.
Diwali also offers an excellent opportunity for organisers and participants to introduce the Indian culture to their friends, work colleagues and the wider community.
It is great to see so many people from other faiths gathered here.
I know that in 1999, Pope John Paul II performed a special Eucharist in an Indian church where the altar was decorated with Diwali lamps.
The Pope’s speech bristled with references to the festival of light and today I share the late Pontiff’s sentiments when he said the festival helps people to better understand and appreciate their tradition and culture and understand their roots.
After all, preservation of one’s culture is a must – whether we be Indian or Irish.
Diwali also celebrates the family unit and the importance of celebrating one’s faith within the family home.
To those of you lighting candles today I would urge you to pause to think about why they are doing it.
Outside of the obvious celebration of Hindu culture and history, it is important that each of you take stock of your own lives and of the community in which you live.
My hope is that events such as those taking place here in the South Court Hotel this evening can allow people of all backgrounds and cultures to share more knowledge and show greater affection and compassion for each other.
On behalf of the people of County Limerick, I wish you all a very enjoyable Diwali celebration.
I want to congratulate the Mid West Indian Irish Association and wish you the very best in your ongoing promotion of Indian culture and heritage.
CLLR. MICHAEL SHEAHAN
LEAS CATHAOIRLEACH OF LIMERICK COUNTY COUNCIL