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Diwali and New Year celebrated at BAPS Mandir

November 14
23:29 2011

CHICAGO: People of all ages professing Hindu religion across the world flock to Mandir and religious for darshan and pray for both forgiveness and success in the coming year during the festival of Diwali and New Year. People illuminate their homes with colorful lights, wear new and traditional clothes, share sweets and send well wishes to family and friends.
The scene was no different at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Bartlett IL; buzzing with joy and excitement all week.
“Diwali is a festival to be aware of the inner light of God, and once we understand this, we will experience joy in every moment of our lives,” said Pujya Vivekmurti Swami explaining the spiritual significance of Diwali.
On the night of Diwali, a vast array of colorful fireworks lit up the night sky in Bartlett where the BAPS temple is located. Thursday, October 27, marked the culmination of weeks of planning and preparation, setting the stage for the most significant ritual of the Diwali events, ‘Annakut’. Annakut, which literally means ‘a mountain of food’, is traditionally offered to God to celebrate the beginning of the Hindu New Year.
“The preparation begins very early in the morning for us,” explained Shashi Brahambhatt of the BAPS youth wing. “The vegetarian food is traditionally arranged in tiers or steps in front of the Murtis of God. The sweets are placed nearest. As the tiers descend, other foods such as vegetables, pulses and fried savories are arranged. A mound of cooked rice, symbolic of Mt. Govardhan, is placed in the center. Today over 1000 food items have been offered to God.”
Devotees arrived early in the morning dressed in new shervanis and colorful saris to receive blessings. The first aarti of the New Year was performed at 6 am.
Diwali is also a time when children look forward to the celebrations. On October 15, the Children’s Diwali celebration was held and proved to be as fun as it was educational. The children learned the history and origins of this festival, played a variety of exciting games, ate great food, saw spectacular fireworks, and were given many different gifts and prizes.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide socio-spiritual organization, 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. 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.
Sandip Patel

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