Dec 2012: Bright lights, fireworks, colors, and delicacies, what can
all these words represent? These are the words that signify one of the
most renowned Hindu festivals, Diwali, or the “Festival of Lights”.
This festival is celebrated by Hindus all around the world and
symbolizes the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.
which mark the last day of the Hindu calendar, took place on November
13, 2012 and was followed by New Year celebrations on November 14,
2012. This year’s Diwali festival was celebrated with great devotion at
the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Lilburn, Georgia.
November 13th, devotees gathered at the Mandir with family and friends
to participate in the Chopda Pujan, a special ceremony for business
owners to receive blessings for the upcoming New Year. This is
traditionally the day when business owners close their existing account
books for the year and open new ones in preparation for the upcoming
year. Through chanting Vedic hymns and prayers, hundreds of ledgers
were blessed during the ceremony.
“We just couldn’t miss the
fireworks this year,” said Deena Shah. “The lights, the music, the
energy is just so wonderful and as always it was stunning!”
November 14th, the first day of the New Year, devotees gathered early
in the morning to offer their prayers on the first day of the New
Year. The hall was packed for the first Arti, a Hindu ritual of
waving lighted wicks before the murti (sacred image) of Bhagwan (God)
as an act of spiritual enlightenment, which took place at 11:00 AM.
of the unique aspects of celebrating the New Year is offering a feast
of food items called Annakut, meaning “a mountain of food”. The
devotees of the Mandir worked tirelessly for many weeks to prepare this
colorful array of vegetarian food items to be offered to Bhagwan.
for the Annakut was a great experience. Everyone was working together
to get over a thousand dishes prepared in a limited amount of time. The
atmosphere of entire effort was that of working toward one goal: to
prepare a wonderful feast.” said Dhruva Patel, a BAPS youth.
the day, devotees poured in to see the beautifully arranged Annakut as
well as rangolis, a unique floor design made with colored rice and
Despite residing in India, His Holiness Pramukh Swami
Maharaj continually inspires devotees all over the world to celebrate
their Hindu heritage and customs. These festivals allow for
families to meet and celebrate the Hindu festivals and pass on
traditions to future generations.