For Hindus, Diwali presents a time to reflect and introspect, for its foundation is based on the principle of erasing darkness with light. While candles are lit to erase physical darkness, more important is the recognition of the darkness within of anger, envy, greed, arrogance, resentment. The auspicious occasion serves as a reminder to make sincere efforts to eradicate this darkness.
The bright colors of Rangoli (ornate designs made of colored powder), the candles, the elaborate offering of vegetarian food (Annakut) to God, all mark a renewal of the good within and the good will towards all around us. Diwali presents Hindus with an opportunity to renew the rich traditions of their roots with great fanfare. Realizing this importance, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS, inspires its members to organize programs to celebrate Hindu festivals including Diwali, at all BAPS centers worldwide.
This year, thousands of individuals convened at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandirs across North America to mark the auspicious festival of Diwali. The festive ambiance at the mandirs welcomed them as they took in the scene of the bright colors of the Rangoli and traditional attire. Inside, they witnessed an elaborate offering of food before the murtis (sacred images) of God. There were literally hundreds of dishes decoratively displayed, complete with fun animals carved from fruits and vegetables. They offered prayer, expressed their wishes for the year ahead, and even had the opportunity to partake in the delicious offerings.
Many experienced the atmosphere of Diwali celebrated in the past, of neighborhoods lit with candles, beautifully decorated mandirs, the well-wishers, the sharing of sweets, and the fireworks. Young ones, based on their first-hand experience today, were able to associate an actual experience to the stories of celebrations they had only heard. While others were inspired to form their own traditions of Diwali based on the impressionable images and ambiance of the day.