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BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Milpitas, CA Celebrates the Hindu Festival of Diwali Online

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Milpitas, CA Celebrates the Hindu Festival of Diwali Online
November 26
13:29 2020

1V6A2918Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Mipitas, CA 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.

Diwali is celebrated every year on the first lunar phase of the moon, when the moon provides no light and the world is enveloped in darkness. The ancient practice of lighting divos, or traditional lamps, during the days of Diwali not only erases physical darkness, but also symbolizes one’s commitment to remove darkness –in the form of anger, greed, arrogance and resentment – from their life. The festival’s rich traditions and rituals marked by bright colors of Rangoli (ornate designs made of colored powder), the lamps, the elaborate offering of vegetarian food (Annakut) to God, all mark a renewal of the good within and the goodwill towards all around us. Diwali presents Hindus with an opportunity to reaffirm themselves with the rich values and traditions of the religion.

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 all over the world 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.

“This year, Diwali looked different as we did not get to come together at the Mandir. However, it was a great opportunity to join my family and make items to celebrate at home. We definitely missed coming together; however, the silver lining was being able to celebrate in grand with my family and seeing pictures of what other families did. In a way, though we were physically separated, I still felt united with everyone because we all shared in the same experience at home. It was wonderful to see everyone’s creativity and devotion,” said Jignya Patel, one of the BAPS Mandir youth leaders.

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.1V6A2952

“Every year, we come to Mandir to volunteer and celebrate Diwali with friends, neighbors, and family. I love to see the beautiful decorations, the lovely creations of food offered, and just take in the joy of this holiday. This year however, was unprecedented. Despite not being able to gather together with the larger community due to the pandemic, I still felt connected with our community by celebrating individually at home. My family made 101 items to celebrate Diwali and New Year at home. Not only that, but we took part in the virtual programs, as well as doing the different pujans at home. It felt like I was celebrating with the entire world. The biggest bright light that shone this year was bonding with my family, and though we didn’t all come together, in a way, we were more together. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir put together kits and programs that kept the joy and tradition of Diwali alive even through the pandemic.” said Chirag Patel, one of the devotees of BAPS.

Janki Dubal, a mother of two and devotee stated, “Celebrating Diwali at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is one way that I try to teach my children about our cultural heritage. This year we could not come together and celebrate together; however, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir put together a wonderful interactive children’s program that my children participated in virtually. They got to do traditional art such as Rangoli and learned about making good choices all in the comfort of our home. Though we celebrated a little differently this year, we were still able to keep the most important cultural traditions alive for our kids through these programs. My family and I had such a wonderful time celebrating together because of how BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir not only provided virtual programs, but kits with materials to celebrate at home.”



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