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A Festival of Lights – Diwali Celebrated at BAPS Mandir

BAPS Diwali

Atlanta, 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.

Diwali, 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.

BAPS Diwali

On 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!”

On 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.
One 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.
“Preparing 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.

Throughout the day, devotees poured in to see the beautifully arranged Annakut as well as rangolis, a unique floor design made with colored rice and powder.

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.

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