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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FILE

Hindu Festival to Celebrate Triumph of Good Over Evil

October 21, 2000|MARGARET RAMIREZ

This afternoon, thousands of Hindus across Southern California will gather at Cerritos Regional County Park to celebrate Diwali, the annual Indian holy day known as the Festival of Lights. The name Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word Deepawali, which means "rows of diyas" or earthen clay lamps. The day symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.

Although there are countless Indian legends behind Diwali, the most widely known is the story of Lord Rama and his defeat of the demon king Ravana. After 14 years in exile, Lord Rama returned to the kingdom of Ayodha, where people celebrated his return by lighting thousands of diyas throughout the countryside. Similar to the way Christians celebrate Christmas, Hindus celebrate by buying new clothes, giving gifts and decorating their homes and businesses with strings of colored lights.

At Cerritos Park, a 60-foot effigy with 10 heads will be erected, with each head representing one of society's evils, such as greed, corruption, rape and war. A horse-drawn chariot with Lord Rama will set fire to the effigy, symbolically destroying evil. Fireworks will follow. Festivities begin at 3 p.m. at Cerritos Park on Bloomfield Avenue and 195th Street. The event is sponsored by the Diamond Bar-based Federation of Hindus Assns.

ELECTIONS AND RELIGION

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First Congregational Church of Los Angeles continues its series of Sunday lectures focusing on the relationship between theology and public policy in this election year. Tomorrow, Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, professor of urban studies at the Claremont School of Theology, will speak on "Latinos in Los Angeles: Hidden Obstacles to Community." In upcoming weeks, mayoral candidates Antonio Villaraigosa and Joel Wachs will speak at the church on their visions for the city. First Congregational Church of Los Angeles is at 540 S. Commonwealth Ave. The lecture begins at 9:45 a.m. in the Amanda Scott Room. (213) 385-1341.

* The University of Judaism is sponsoring several public policy events before election day. Tuesday at 10:45 a.m., former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Rosalind Wyman will discuss issues and personalities driving the 2000 election. A coffee reception preceding Wyman's presentation starts at 10 a.m. The cost of the program is $10 for the public. Also on Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m., Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) will speak in the university's chapel on issues facing women and children. On Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m., the University's Center for Policy Options will hold a free public symposium on school vouchers and Jewish education. The University of Judaism is at 15600 Mulholland Drive in Bel-Air. (310) 476-9777.

* Alan Fisher, professor of political science at Cal State Dominguez Hills, will speak at Friday Shabbat services at the Leo Baeck Temple on "Generations of Jews: Voting and Values." Leo Baeck is a Reform congregation located at 1300 N. Sepulveda Blvd. across from the Getty Center. (310) 476-2861.

EVENTS

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Japanese American Christians are invited to attend an oral history training session Wednesday to learn ways of recording the heritage of the issei, or first-generation immigrants. The Rev. Heihachiro Takarabe, pastor of El Estero Presbyterian Church in Monterey, will conduct the workshop. Takarabe, former pastor of Parkview Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, founded the Issei Oral History Project in 1969. With two professors from Cal State Sacramento, he developed techniques for interviewing issei members of his congregation. The project produced three books: "Issei Christians," "The Issei: Portrait of a Pioneer," and "Issei Women: Echoes From Another Frontier." The Rev. Paul Nakamura, pastor of Oriental Lutheran Church, is pioneering the move to collect historic materials of issei in Southern California. The session will be held at 10 a.m. at 948 E. 2nd Street. (213) 613-0022.

* Recognizing that victims of domestic violence often approach their priests and pastors for help, Los Angeles County has formed a religious task force to provide resources for clergy. On Wednesday, ministers with extensive experience in running domestic violence programs will hold a half-day workshop open to clergy, church staff and members of the religious community. Participants will include: Pastor William Wilson, founder of Peace and Grace Christian Church, which runs programs for women and children affected by domestic violence; the Rev. Ann Heyman, director of the Mary Magdalene Project, a residential program for prostitutes; and Virginia Classick, supervisor of the Family Violence Project of Jewish Family Services. The event begins at 9 a.m. and will be held at the Episcopal Cathedral Center of St. Paul at 840 Echo Park Ave. in Los Angeles. Cost is $10 to cover lunch. For more information, call Sonia Waters at (909) 623-4364, Ext. 6055.

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