One of the most widely recognized Hindu festivals, Diwali, or the “Festival of Lights”, was celebrated with great devotion by devotees gathered at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandirs across North America. On this day, business owners also took part in the Chopda Pujan ceremony where they closed their existing account books and prepared new books for the upcoming year. Devotees also prayed to Bhagwan to forgive any mistakes committed through the past year as well as for strength to not repeat them in the upcoming year.
On Annakut day, devotees gathered from early in the morning to offer their prayers on the first day of the New Year. Devotees greeted each other happily and spread wishes for a happy and prosperous new year. The atmosphere was filled with excitement and joy as devotees gathered together to celebrate the auspicious day. One of the unique aspects of celebrating the New Year is offering a feast of food items called Annakut, literally meaning “a mountain of food”. The devotees of the mandir worked tirelessly for many weeks to prepare for this colossal and colorful array of vegetarian food items to be offered to their beloved Bhagwan.
Diwali is about new beginnings and themes related to tradition, reflection, forgiveness, light and knowledge which were visible throughout the festivities. Despite currently being in India, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj continually inspires devotees all over the world to celebrate their Hindu heritage and customs.