DALLAS (TIP): November 14, 2015 – Diwali serves as a time to gather with friends and family to welcome the New Year and celebrate the year past. During this time of togetherness, reflection, and introspection, devotees at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Dallas, TX organized various events to share in ancient traditions with the local community. Across North America, thousands of volunteers begin preparations months in advance of the festivities – from decoration design and creation to food preparation for the annakut (offering of vegetarian dishes to Bhagwan). Celebrating Diwali with great enthusiasm and excitement inspires every generation of Indians to honor their deeply rooted Hindu heritage.
The five days of Diwali are filled with optimism and enthusiasm as volunteers and devotees work side by side, looking past their differences, to build the annakut and prepare for Diwali events at each mandir. Inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS, devotees welcome guests to the mandir with well wishes for the New Year. Swamis visit with community members to offer their prayers for peace and prosperity among families. This year, BAPS Mandirs across North America marked the auspicious festival of Diwali with fireworks and cultural exhibitions so visitors would find their experiences both entertaining and educational.
“Diwali is my favorite festival because of the excitement that fills the air when the festival nears. But having recently migrated to the US, I did not know what to expect.” said Chintan Vyas, “After coming to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Dallas, TX, I felt like I was in India. I experienced Indian culture while getting a taste of fine Indian cuisine. I truly felt at home.”
This year, a special exhibition on Family Unity and Harmony demonstrated the benefits and avenues of how families can take time out of busy daily routines to spend time with each other. “Diwali is that time of the year when family, friends and relatives get together and strengthen their bonds through various festivities. These bonds are reinvigorated to last throughout the year”, said Dr. Sejal Mehta. “Preparations for the festivities begin months in advance. Devotees, young and old, sacrifice their time to help in creating decorations, food preparation, children’s Diwali celebration arrangements, as well as decorating the stage for the most significant ritual of Diwali, the Annakut,” concluded, Naresh Patel.
Diwali is also a time when children look forward to the joy it brings. On November 1, 2015, the Children’s Diwali Celebration took place. The celebration was as much fun as it was educational. The children learned the history and origin of this festival, played a variety of exciting games, and were given an assortment of gifts and goodies.
This year His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj celebrated Diwali and Annakut in Sarangpur, Gujarat, India. He blessed the devotees on the New Year day.