FTV News, Boston: A young baby marvels at the spectacular wonderment of twinkling lights and extravagant decorations arranged in the Mandir’s main chamber and throughout the greater Mandir campus. New parents tied to the Hindu diaspora, seeking to preserve and pass on heritage and religious teachings to their children in the United States, find a place of learning and cultural preservation at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir’s Annual Diwali Celebrations.
Diwali, a five-day celebration of various rituals and practices, welcomes the New Year for Hindus and celebrates the triumph of good over evil in scriptural events. For many visitors, the most popular attraction and a highlight of the festivities is the Annakut festival on the fifth day. As practiced by BAPS Swaminarayan Mandirs, the Annakut is a unique and awe-inspiring sight of devotion where hundreds of different traditional Indian foods and even some fusions with western cuisine are prepared by devotees in the community and arranged in front of the Mandir’s sacred images. In the evening, the offered dishes are served at dinner to everyone. This year, over 1750 unique items were prepared and displayed in the Annakut.
In addition to the Annakut, the BAPS’ Diwali celebrations featured spiritual and cultural themed events, which engaged both children and adults, in order to bring positive energy into the New Year. Furthermore, visitors and members learned about scriptural events related to Diwali, and observed traditions such as rangolis and other traditional forms of decorations. Attractions included Grand Annakut Darshan, Family Portaits, Indian Vegetarian Cuisine, and ended with a fireworks display.
Mr. Sanjay Kenchegowda, Vice President of India Association of Greater Boston said, “Diwali is my favorite festival because of the excitement that fills the air when the festival nears. After coming to the Diwali Celebrations at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Boston I felt like I was in India. I experienced Indian culture while getting a taste of fine Indian cuisine. My children loved it. I truly felt at home.”
Mr. Manoj Chourasia, Vice President of India Association of New Hampshire said, “The festivities here are truly amazing and lively, all arrangements are phenomenal.”
“Preparations for the festivities begin months in advance. Devotees, young and old, sacrifice their time to help in creating decorations, food preparation, children’s Diwali celebration arrangements, as well as decorating the stage for the most significant ritual of Diwali, the Annakut,” said, Mr. Jayesh Patel, a BAPS volunteer.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s commitment to preserving the Hindu cultural and religious practices is inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. Their life teachings compliment the richness of the Diwali celebrations and embody Hindu history, practices, and principles. Through involving youth in the preparation and execution of the celebrations, BAPS Swaminarayan Mandirs also provide a forum for young people to learn and lead the community in cultural preservation and practice.
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.
About Pramukh Swami Maharaj
Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Under his leadership, BAPS grew into an international spiritual and humanitarian organization with over 3,300 centers worldwide. He dedicated his life to the well-being of others, traveling throughout the world to foster love, peace, harmony, righteousness, faith in God, and service to humanity. With genuine care and compassion, he reached out to all members of society irrespective of class, color, or age. Recognized and respected as one of India’s greatest spiritual teachers, he lived by and promoted the principle: “In the joy of others, lies our own.”
CONTACT: BAPS North American Headquarters