Diwali Celebrations at Hari Om Mandir

Chicago IL: Chappan (56) Bhog on 18th Nov marked the culmination of Diwali celebrations in Hari Om Temple. Just after the Fund Raising Dinner on Oct 13th, the preparations started for Navratre. Two Chowkis were held. First one was on Nov.16th by Bunty Bawa ji. Bunty Bawa ji came from California for this special Chowki on first Navratre. Despite being a weekday lot of devotees turned up. It was well attended. This was followed by a second Jagran on Oct 20th. For this Asha Khanna ji flew in from New York. Hundreds of devotees turned up to offer prayers. Specia arrangements were done for the traditional Vrat food.

Raas Garba also started from the first day of Navratre. They were well attended. During the Navratras every evening, the basement hall was filled with young and old, men and women…all dressed up in traditional ghagra-choli outfits, kurta-pyjamas, with the garba sticks in hand, waited anxiously for the DJ to start music. The same mood and excitment was visible on special Garba on Shard Purnima.

Then came Karva Chauth. Like every year, “Karva Chauth” was celebrated in a big way! Hundreds of Brides, Brides-to-be, young and old ladies dressed in their best attires and displaying their ethnic jewelry, gathered at the temple to listen to the sacred Katha and perform the Thali-poojan. The priests read katha and volunteers helped making groups of ladies to avoid and rush and inconvenience. Hot tea was served to the ladies. The Mandir was covered in festive mood.

5 days of Diwali celebrations started on Sunday November 11th with Dhanteres poojan. The priests performed the poojan. Devotees got their silver coins and new utensils to be prayed by the priests. Temple was beautifully decorated by the priests. Next day was Kali Chaudas with prayers offered to Kali Devi. All the God and Goddess statues were dressed in black. Priests were also dressed in black color clothes.

The festive mood set up during these nine days, was carried forward on to the Diwali celebrations. Temple door opened at 6am and people kept coming all day long to seek blessings from Mata Lakshmi on this auspicious day. In evening the whole Mandir was decorated and lit up with diyas, candles and electric lights. Special Diwali sweets packed in boxes were distributed. This was followed by fireworks in the Mandir parking lot. Free sparklers were distributed to the kids.

The day after Diwali, the temple opened early in morning to facilitate those who came to offer prayers for the New Year as per Hindu Calendar. There was a continuous flow of people all day who came to the temple for Darshan.

56 Bhog was celebrated on Sunday Nov. 18th. Devottees prepared different type of Indian vegetarian food. The food was decorated by volunteers in similar steel bowls. In all 108 different dishes were arranged.

Both the Boards, under the guidance of Chairman Ayodhia Salwan and President Rajeev Bharel, worked hard to give the festival a true Indian feel and celebrate it in the right spirit of joy & prosperity. Lot of volunteers stepped up to take charge and help in each and every possible way. Mitesh, Ramesh, Gurmeet, Ajay Ghai and lot of other volunteer dedicated their time in cleaning and decorating the temple. The major corporate sponsors were Cuisine of India, Spice Mart, India House and Star Foods.

Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA

Suresh Bodiwala
Asian Media USA
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