This October, lights and candles will be lit, sweets will be prepared and shared, and warm greetings and well wishes will be exchanged as millions of Hindus around the world celebrate the festival of lights, Diwali. Diwali presents Hindus around the world with an opportunity to renew the rich traditions of their roots with great fanfare.
In marking the season, volunteers of all ages came together to organize a Diwali celebration at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Lilburn, GA on October 30-31. Colorful intricate designs called rangoli, decorative oil lamps and Annakut offerings of vegetarian food before the sacred images of God filled the atmosphere with a renewed spirit of the festival.
Diwali is an ancient Hindu festival commemorating many historical events including the return of Bhagwan Shri Ram to the kingdom of Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile. His return brought about a period of enlightenment within the kingdom and its people. The tradition of self-enlightenment continues today as Diwali presents an opportunity for self-improvement and progress through reflection within.
Children also enjoyed the annual Diwali fare filled with games, activities and sweet treats. BAPS youths take great measures to organize and conduct this annual event for the younger participants. Hundreds of families experienced the culture and traditions of the auspicious holiday as they offered prayers, well wishes, and resolved to mark the New Year with spiritual enlightenment.
Many relished the familiar atmosphere of Diwali and reminisced their childhood days as they immersed themselves in the beautiful sights, traditional songs, and delicious cuisine of the holiday. Congressman Rob Woodall, who represents the 7th district of Georgia, was present at the Diwali celebrations and eloquently described the essence of Diwali as the celebration of good over evil and light over darkness.
The festivities brought devotees together to serve a common purpose, develop spiritually, and please their guru His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and inspirer, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired the celebration of Hindu festivals at BAPS centers worldwide to keep the rich traditions and culture of India alive with emphasis on the true historic and spiritual purpose of Hindu festivals.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) is a worldwide spiritual and humanitarian organization that is dedicated to community service, peace and harmony. Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Through various spiritual and humanitarian activities, BAPS endeavors to develop better citizens of tomorrow with high esteem for their roots and culture. Its 3,300 international centers support these character-building activities. Under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is free of addictions as well as morally, ethically and spiritually pure. For more details, please visit www.baps.org.
About Mahant Swami Maharaj
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj is the sixth and current spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He was ordained a swami by Yogiji Maharaj in 1961 and named Sadhu Keshavjivandas. As he was appointed the head (Mahant) of the Mandir in Mumbai, he became known as Mahant Swami. His devout, humble and service-focused life earned him the innermost blessings of Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Mahant Swami Maharaj travels throughout the world inspiring people through his insightful spiritual discourses and disciplined conduct. His virtuous lifestyle and profound devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and gurus are ideals toward which devotees strive. Mahant Swami Maharaj became the guru and President of BAPS upon Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s passing in 2016.