MELVILLE, NY (TIP): Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Melville, NY focused on bringing together  the  Hindu  community  through  five  days  of  virtual  Diwali  celebrations.  During  this period, the traditions celebrated present an opportunity to reflect and introspect on one’s personal, professional, and spiritual growth. Many families would generally gather at the BAPS Mandir to celebrate this festival.  However, due to all of the health and safety concerns this year, the BAPS organization provided live, interactive programs throughout the holiday season to bring the community together while suggesting activities that each family can partake in and share with others online.  One such activity was the observation of New Year’s Day  which  occurs  the  day  after  Diwali.  BAPS  mandirs  the  world  over  celebrate  this  day  by  offering Annakut (meaning of “Mountains of Food”)  to the sacred images within the shrines of the mandir.  The 100s  of  food  items  are  generally  made  by  followers  of  the  faith  in  their  homes  and  brought  to  the mandir.  This year, however, families were encouraged to make fresh vegetarian delicacies and offer them to the images that are kept at home, with the same spirit and to share pictures of this and other Diwali activities online.

Although no grand celebrations were held at the mandir this year, BAPS did offer limited viewings of the sacred images, during the Diwali season.  Due to the auspiciousness of the holiday, many Hindus come to view and pray before the images  on these days.  As a part of its ongoing COVID-19 response efforts, the organization’s humanitarian arm – BAPS Charities – organized a Food Drive and requested all  who  come  to  the  mandir  to  bring  non-perishable  food  items  to  help  those  most  affected  by  the pandemic.

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