For all Hindus the world over, Diwali is a time of family gatherings and in various places throughout India, it marks the end of the year. In celebration of Diwali and the New Year, the BAPS Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Edison, NJ hosted a grand two day celebration. On Saturday October 25, the festivities began early with the childrens� Diwali Celebration Carnival. The carnival was as much fun as it was educational. The children learned the history and origin of this festival and were gifted various prizes and goodies. Later in the afternoon, a special session was held for the more senior members of BAPS.

In the evening, hundreds of people gathered for Sharda Pujan, better known as Chopda Pujan. In this pujan, ledgers and accounting books are placed before the idols and a special prayer is delivered so that one�s finances remain sound for the coming year. New Year�s Day started off with a large gathering of devotees for the first aarti (prayer in which a light is waved as a symbol of the physical, mental, and spiritual light God provides). Beginning at 10:00 am, a cultural program was performed by the children and youths of BAPS and was sanctified by Sadhu Yagnavallabhdas and Sadhu Haridarshandas. Thereafter, over 1500 different items of food were decoratively placed before the idols to thank God for all the food He provides. Before one could leave, all visitors were treated to a delicious meal. BAPS had also set up a walk through exhibition describing the various days of Diwali.

Many dignitaries and well wishers graced this event. Some of the notable guests included New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, United States Senator Jon A. Corzine.

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