Diwali, commonly recognized as the festival of lights, celebrates the triumph of light over darkness (good over evil). As we celebrate Diwali, we light diyas and candles and hang lights as decorations to symbolize the vanishing of all the darkness in our lives and the darkness that may be within us with the lord's divinity. Diwali is also the final day of the Hindu year, Aso vad amas.
This year’s Diwali celebration and the start of Samvat 2080 (the Hindu New Year) was celebrated at Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, Shree Swaminarayan Temple - Secaucus, NJ with great enthusiasm. Celebrations were held on the Diwali day, Sunday, November 12, 2023. The preparations for Diwali, however, started much earlier before the grand day. Disciples conducted seva wherever possible, from planning, lighting, and other beautiful decorations, to preparation of the Annakut delicacies and the Open House Event.
On Sunday morning, devotees gathered in the Mandir and assembled a vibrant and beautiful Annakut surrounding Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. Several sweet delicacies, savories, and various dishes prepared by devotees were elegantly aligned on the Annakut stand along with several fruits and vegetables. Beautiful rangolis and cakes were also displayed along with the Annakut. Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa graced His disciples' efforts by accepting the offerings on the festive day. Disciples then performed aarti on this auspicious day of the grand annakut offered to Lord Shree Swaminarayan.
The day's event continued with the Open House, which aims to showcase Hindu culture and our Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan religion. The temple greeted hundreds of members of the community and offered them lunch and snacks upon arrival. Guests enjoyed many different activities as part of the Open House: entering a Diwali raffle, eating a delicious lunch, exploring the various musical instruments played in the Temple, trying on Hindu traditional clothing, making play-doh rangoli, completing Diwali-themed coloring and word search, playing in the bounce house, and trying on mehendi. The open house also included multiple performances such as a dance performance by female disciples, a performance by Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band USA, and a violin performance by a young disciple.
Following the Open House, disciples and guests proceeded to the Mandir Hall for sabha. The temple also celebrated Sadguru Din, so disciples performed dhyan and listened to Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa's Ashirward. Disciples also received Ashirwad from Gnan Mahodadi Acharya Shree Jitendriyapriyadasji Swamiji Maharaj to celebrate Diwali and the impending Hindu New Year. Disciples continued the celebrations by singing kirtans and then performing utsav to offer the Grand Annakut to Lord Shree Swaminarayan. Disciples then performed aarti to celebrate Diwali and the Annakut offered to Lord Shree Swaminarayan. Throughout the Open House and sabha, many honorary guests visited the Temple to celebrate Diwali with the community including Secaucus Mayor Gonnelli and United States Congressman Robert Menendez Jr.
The celebrations concluded as the food from the Annakut was taken down and then served to all guests and disciples to enjoy. Secaucus Temple would like to wish everyone a Happy Diwali and thank everyone who made this year's Diwali celebration memorable for all!