Colors, lights and food fused with joy and traditions engulfed the atmosphere in Abu Mureikha, Abu Dhabi. The Indian Festival of Lights, Diwali, was celebrated at the BAPS Hindu Mandir by over 10,000 visitors for the third consecutive year. Visitors received a festive and traditional welcome at the entrance by a colorful rangoli, an ornate floor design made from colored powder, displaying various traditional Hindu symbols.
Hundreds of dignitaries joined the celebrations, including His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance and Co-existence of the UAE. After lighting a lamp, His Excellency wished everyone a very happy and luminous Diwali. He said, “May the light of Diwali fill your homes with abundance and bless your relationships with joy and laughter as you share this wonderful celebration. I share in your joy as you rejoice in your victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Diwali is a global celebration that unites people irrespective of religion, culture, nationality or caste. Here in the UAE Diwali has become an important event that celebrates the culture and traditions of India. In the spirit of Diwali, Indians everywhere enrich the world. May this Diwali be a special time of new and rekindled relationships, may this day be a joyous occasion that brings you the utmost peace, may you and your families be blessed with good health, may this Diwali be an opportunity for enriching and enhancing peace, love, tolerance and human fraternity."
Earlier His Excellency was guided by Brahmavihari Swami around the mandir construction site. On seeing the stone structure, carvings and pillars, His Excellency commented, “This Mandir is going to be iconic and unique. The craftsmanship is intricate and amazing, and the place will help spread global harmony.”
Other dignitaries included, His Excellency Sunjay Sudhir, India Ambassador to the UAE. His Excellency Jose Aguero Avila, Republic of Paraguay Ambassador to the UAE.
Well-wishers enjoyed the intricate and decorative 1,200-dish vegetarian food Annakut display, along with a thoughtful exhibition celebrating 100 years of Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
A fun fair area for children was set up in which they participated in interactive activities and insightful games teaching them the significance of the festival and family values, as well as, the importance of community service.
In addition, visitors witnessed cultural programmes, including devotional songs performed by prominent Indian communities.
In keeping with the Diwali and Hindu New Year’s sentiments of expressing gratitude, a blood donation camp has was organized in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Blood Bank to support the community.
Over 400 volunteers, young and old, gave their time to help create decorations, prepare for the children’s Diwali section, and arrange the Annakut display on the stage to offer food to God and celebrate the beginning of the Hindu New Year.
Sharad Parmar expressed, “My family and I had an amazing time celebrating and visiting the BAPS Mandir. As we entered the site, we were greeted by courteous volunteers right from the parking lot, exemplifying the spirit of volunteerism within the community.”