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Why Six Christian Women Celebrated Festival Of Lights

Why Six Christian Women Celebrated Festival Of Lights
Diwali brings Unity...Six women of Christian faith join in the celebration of Diwali last night. (From left): Nanise Leba, Laniana Ere, Asenaca Delaibatiki, Makereta Qionitoga, Lina Qionitoga and Anaseini Lewenivula at Caubati, Nasinu, on November 7, 2018. Photo: Selita Bolanavanua
November 08
14:53 2018

Anaseini Lewenivula remembers Di­wali when she was a five-year-old living in Nadi.

Thirty-seven years later she is reliving that memory in a unique way at a flat near Suva.

“This is so special because I am one of six iTaukei women celebrating the Festival of Lights,” Mrs Lewenivula said.

“We may belong to a different culture and religion, but that should not stop us from celebrating. It helps us to understand the Hindu religion and the Indo-Fijian culture.

“With this understanding we can break down the walls that seem to divide us.”

She said the ‘Festival of Lights’ symbolised the victory of good over evil.

“When we focus on things that are good in life it will keep evil away from us.”

Lina Qionitoga, 43, originally from Nama­jiu Village, Nakasaleka, Kadavu, who now resides in Waidamudamu, near Nausori, said: “We are all Christians here, we need to respect the festivals of other religions in the same way as they do during our Christmas festivities which will begin soon.

“It’s a practical way of promoting religious tolerance. Intolerance arises because of a lack of understanding and ignorance about other religions.

“Our coming together for this event is a spontaneous one. I suppose we were think­ing along the same lines. So when the idea was sprung on us, we collectively said yes and we had only a few days to do the prepa­ration.

“The saris, diya, sweets etc are all material things. But what is important is the thought behind all these. Why are we doing it?

“We are doing it because we appreciate and respect the culture of our Hindu brothers and sisters and their religion.”

Laniana Ere, 35, originally from Ba now lives in Valelevu, said.

“As Christians “we believe in the Biblical scriptures that tell us that we should love everyone, even our enemies, if we want to live with God in heaven after we die.

“We are grateful to Mrs Asenaca Delaiba­tiki for hosting us at her flat. She has gen­erously provided the items for our celebra­tions.”

Mrs Delaibatiki said cross- cultural and cross-religious activities and festivities helped strengthen the foundation on which peace, harmony, unity and prosperity are built.

“It’s important to understand that in es­sence this is what secularism is all about – our freedom to practise what we believe in and to show our goodwill and tolerance to those from different beliefs.”

She concurred with her friends that “we need to remove the walls that breed racism and religious bigotry.”

Makereta Qionitoga, 21, said she joined the group because she wanted to learn to “broaden her outlook about life.”

The youngest in the group was Nanise Leba, 19, a Fiji National University student pursuing a degree in education.

The women belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Methodist Church.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

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