From New York to Los Angeles and from Houston to Chicago, devotees gathered at BAPS mandirs and centers to celebrate Diwali and New Year - two of the biggest Hindu festivals of the year.
Similar to the traditional forms of Diwali celebrations, festivities were seen across the country in terms of fire crackers, social gatherings, enjoying sweets and delicacies, buying new clothes, and exchange of gifts in majority of the Indo American Communities. In addition to those popular traditions, BAPS mandirs in North America have added a whole new dimension to these celebrations. Some of the very unique events organized in various centers to mark this festival of light are: Children's Diwali Celebrations, Home Decoration and Rangoli competitions, Lakshmi Poojan and Chopada Poojan, Devotional assemblies to welcome the New Year, Grand Annakut and Prasad Distributions to the members of the community. The backbones of all these activities were a great amount of team work among various age groups, utmost volunteerism and the spirit of selfless service to nurture one's culture and traditions.
Devotees prepared different varieties of traditional food items and preparations began as early as 5:00 am in some BAPS mandirs. Colorful rangoli artwork, candles, and flowers added to the picturesque Annakut. Arti's were performed every hour throughout the day. The visitors were highly touched by the beautiful display of Annakut in front of God. Both young and old of various background & culture participated in the festivities meeting and rejoicing with relatives and friends in an atmosphere of happiness. The Children's Diwali Celebrations with rides, games, gifts, magic show and food was a thoroughly fun filled event for young and old alike. Each mandir also had decorations and exhibits conveying noble messages from the Indian scriptures.
This year His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj celebrated Diwali and Annakut in New Delhi, India, where he just inaugurated Swaminarayan Akshardham. For many, the Diwali and Annakut celebrations resurfaced memories of India because of the mandir's India like feel.