iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
With October being celebrated as Hindu Heritage Month, community leaders, as well as policymakers, including US President Joe Biden, lighting lamps and immersing themselves in the festival of lights, Diwali celebrations at BAPS Swaminarayan temples across North America glittered with varied hues, lights, and delicious food that heightened the joy of traditional festivities.
People who visited the temples were greeted with a festive and traditional welcome at the temple entrance by a colorful Rangoli, an ornate floor design made from colored powder, displaying various traditional Hindu symbols.
In preparation for the festivities, many devotees, young and old, helped create decorations, prepare for children’s Diwali, and set the stage for the most significant ritual of Diwali, ‘Annakut’. Annakut, which literally means ‘a mountain of food’, is traditionally offered to God to celebrate the beginning of the Hindu New Year. Annakut was celebrated on October 26, 2022, with over 1500 food delicacies being offered to Bhagwan. The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) is a spiritual, volunteer-driven organization with a worldwide network of 3,800 centers.
This year, millions of devotees and well-wishers across the globe are taking part in the centennial celebrations of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual guru, and leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. After the darshan of the Annakut, visitors got to view an exhibition-themed “Century of Service,” which gave an immersive experience into the life of 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.”
Pramukh Swami Maharaj lived by the principle, “In the joy of others, lies our own.” He dedicated his life to selflessly serving others for the greater good of humanity, traveling across the world as an ambassador of peace, harmony, and faith. He visited over 250,000 homes across more than 50 countries and replied to over 750,000 letters, personally counseling individuals, helping them through struggles, and inspiring them to live value-centric lives. His virtues and life’s work transformed individuals, families, and communities worldwide.
Ami Shah, a visitor said, “I start my year at BAPS Mandir. The Annakut is awesome and I love coming here. This year the exhibition on Pramukh Swami Maharaj was just too good. It was amazing to know that this was created by youths who were explaining various sections enthusiastically.”
“I experienced my culture while getting a taste of fine Indian cuisine. Every person I met had an expression of warmth and happiness on their face. I truly felt at home,” said Jignesh Patel, another visitor.
The multiple days of Diwali are steeped in traditions and rituals that symbolize new beginnings and a renewed commitment to family. The bright colors of Rangoli, the lamps, and the elaborate offering of vegetarian food (Annakut) to Bhagwan, all mark a renewal of the good within and the goodwill towards all.
This year Mahant Swami Maharaj, the sixth and current spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, celebrated Diwali and Annakut in Gondal, in Gujarat, India. He blessed the devotees with a happy and peaceful new year. He also stressed that since this year is also the centennial celebration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, may all be blessed to live according to his virtuous life.