Describing Hinduism as one of the great religions of the world, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on Thursday asked people to follow its principles of unity and harmony for achieving a better tomorrow.
Greeting the people on the occasion of Maha Shivratri, the President called for peace and amity amongst the people of the Island nation.
"May their prayers and expectations for a better tomorrow be fulfilled, and may every lamp they light on this day enrich them spiritually, enhance their understanding and stronger unity among all our people," he said.
Rajapakse also said devotion aims at dispelling ignorance and to overcome anger and hatred. "The aim of all this devotion is the dispelling of ignorance and the search for knowledge to overcome the evil tendencies of lust, anger, greed, infatuation, jealousy and hatred, and seek peace and harmony both in their lives and in society," he said.
The President said many rituals were associated with this festival, including fasting, night-long vigil at temples, making of offerings to Lord Shiva, the lighting of lamps and singing hymns.
According to Hindu mythology, Shiva, one of the holy trinity along with Vishnu and Brahma, married Parvati on this day.
"Hinduism, one of the great religions of the world, teaches man the virtues of piety, unity and harmony," he said adding, "Hindus, true to their religion, have been living for ages in amity and harmony with followers of other religions."