Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, Diwali and Annakut Celebration took place at BAPS Mandirs across North America and at the homes of devotees. The festival brought together the Hindu community through five days of virtual Diwali celebrations, culminating on the New Year’s Day of the Vikram Samvat calendar. During this period, the traditions celebrated present an opportunity to reflect and introspect on one’s personal, professional, and spiritual growth.
Diwali is celebrated every year on a new moon day when the moon provides no light and the world is enveloped in darkness. The ancient practice of lighting divos, or traditional lamps, during the days of Diwali not only erases physical darkness, but also symbolizes one’s commitment to remove darkness – in the form of anger, greed, arrogance and resentment -from life. The festival’s rich traditions and rituals marked by bright colors of Rangoli (ornate designs made of colored powder), the lamps, the elaborate offering of vegetarian food (Annakut) to God, all mark a renewal of the good within and the goodwill towards all around us.
Diwali presents Hindus with an opportunity to reaffirm themselves with the rich values and traditions of the religion. . It is for this reason that His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj inspires devotees to organize programs to celebrate Hindu festivals, such as Diwali, with earnest devotion.
With an emphasis to keep communities safe during the global pandemic, thousands of individuals across North America celebrated Diwali at home. Families conducted celebrations and associated pujans virtually to mark the auspicious festival. On Annakut day (New Year’s Day), families offered assorted foods to the sa red images of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Gunatitanand Swami, and the spiritual lineage of gurus in their ghar mandirs. Friends and families connected through digital platforms to share prayers and express their wishes for the year ahead. The glow of lights, bright colors, and festive ambiance engulfed devotees’ homes across North America.
In addition to providing a safe yet united celebration, BAPS Charities organized food drives recognizing the unprecedented economic difficulty posed by the pandemic.