Diwali Celebrated with fun and festivity at B.A.P.S Mandirs across North America
Bright lights, fireworks, colors, and delicacies, what can all these words represent? These are the words that signify one of the most renowned Hindu festivals, Diwali, or the “Festival of Lights”. This festival is celebrated by Hindus all around the world and symbolizes the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. Diwali is the last day of the Hindu calendar and is followed by New Year celebrations.
This year’s Diwali festival was celebrated with great devotion at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan across North America. Devotees gathered at the Mandir on Diwali Day with family and friends to participate in the Chopda Pujan, a special ceremony for business owners to receive blessings for the upcoming New Year. This is traditionally the day when business owners close their existing account books for the year and open new ones in preparation for the upcoming year. Through chanting Vedic hymns and prayers, hundreds of ledgers were blessed during the ceremony.
On the New Year Day, devotees gathered early in the morning to offer their prayers on the first day of the New Year. Devotees graciously greeted each other and spread wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year. All were dressed in traditional attire and shared mutual feelings of excitement and joy.
“Diwali is my favorite festival because of the excitement that fills the air when the festival nears. But having recently migrated to US, I did not know what to expect.” said Deep Patel, “But after coming to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Edison, I felt like I was in India. I experienced Indian culture while getting a taste of fine Indian cuisine. Every person I met had an expression of warmth and happiness on their face. I truly felt at home.”
The hall was packed for the first arti, a Hindu ritual of waving lighted wicks before the murti of Bhagwan as an act of spiritual enlightenment, which took place at 10:00 am. Throughout the day, visitors poured in to the hourly services to see the beautifully arranged lights as well as rangolis, unique floor designs made with colored rice and powder.
One of the unique aspects of celebrating the New Year is offering a feast of food items called Annakut, literally meaning “a mountain of food”. The devotees of the Mandir worked tirelessly for many weeks to prepare this colorful array of vegetarian food items to be offered to Bhagwan. This created a sense of togetherness amongst all who were involved.
Despite residing in India, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj continually inspires devotees all over the world to celebrate their Hindu heritage and customs. These festivals allow for families to meet and celebrate the Hindu festivals and pass on traditions to future generations.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide socio-spiritual organization in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is dedicated to community service, peace and harmony. Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Through a number of social and spiritual activities, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow who have a high esteem for their roots – their rich Hindu culture. Its 3,300 international centers support these activities of character-building. Under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is morally, ethically and spiritually pure, and free of addictions.
About Pramukh Swami Maharaj:
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, has inspired millions of people across the world to lead a God-centered, morally pure life. As the present leader of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj travels from village to village, continent to continent, emphasizing the importance of family harmony, community service and spiritual progress. He embodies the essence of Hindu life. His compassion for humanity, universal wisdom and striking simplicity have touched many world religious and national. For more details visit www.baps.org
Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA
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