Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and of light over darkness. The purpose of Diwali is to remove all sources of darkness (ignorance, greed, worldly desires, thoughts, etc.) from within us and replace them with light, which symbolizes the true knowledge and divinity of the Lord. Diwali and the Hindu New Year are a time when followers of the Hindu faith come together and share the joy in their lives. They put aside their differences and work towards fostering a sense of community all around them. It is an eagerly-awaited holiday for Hindus all over the world and is celebrated with grand festivities.
On Saturday, October 22nd, 2011, disciples of Shree Swaminarayan Temple, New Jersey celebrated the Diwali festival and New Year. Hundreds of disciples from all over the United States, as well as members of the New Jersey Indian community, had gathered for the celebration. During the festival, a grand ankoot, which consisted of hundreds of different Indian and international delicacies disciples had prepared, was offered to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. The ankoot featured different dishes, sweets, snacks, baked goods, and fruits – ranging from burfi to roti to pizza – all beautifully arranged in front of the Lord. Disciples also performed kirtan-bhakti, gave speeches about the importance of Diwali and Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa’s divine prowess, and offered aarti to the Lord. In addition, various booths and displays with information about the Swaminarayan religion, Swamibapa Pipe Band, Indian musical instruments, and other parts of the Indian culture were set up for the disciples and public to view. Afterwards, annkut prasad was served to everyone present.
The other mandals of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi across the United States as well as the Canada mandal held Diwali celebrations to please the Lord during this auspicious time of year.