Diwali serves as a time to gather with friends and family to welcome the New Year and celebrate the year past. During this time of togetherness, reflection, and introspection, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandirs across North America organize various events to share in ancient traditions with local communities. Thousands of volunteers in every region begin preparations months in advance of the festivities - from decoration design and execution, to food preparation for the annakut (offering of vegetarian dishes to Bhagwan). Celebrating Diwali with great enthusiasm and excitement inspires every generation of Indians to honor their deeply rooted Hindu heritage.
The five days of Diwali are mainly marked by divos (traditional oil lamps), bright colored Rangoli (ornate patterns made with colored powder typically displayed on entranceway floors), and annakut. Additionally, Diwali is known as a time to embrace optimism, personal development, and new spiritual beginnings. When visitors arrive at the Mandir, they are greeted by volunteers dressed in traditional Indian clothes and invited to offer their prayers to the murtis (or sacred images). Hundreds of decorative dishes, all made by hand, are placed in front of the murtis - complete with elaborate fruit carvings and creative displays.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspires devotees around the country to hold tight to Indian culture, tradition, and values as they build close families and communities. Mandirs are a place, especially during Diwali, for families and friends to spend meaningful time together and strengthen their bonds. An important feature of the Diwali celebrations at BAPS mandirs in North America is the level of authentic detail that honors some of the most ancient traditions of Hinduism. From colors to light, and the stacking of sweets in the annakut, each artistic element is symbolic of Hindu teachings and serves as an expression of each volunteer’s devotion to Bhagwan.