The multi-faith, multi-day celebration of Diwali took place at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Bartlett, IL concluding on November 4th. The Indian diaspora as well as community members and well-wishers all gathered to celebrate the festival of lights and commemorate the New Year.
The Mandir was beautifully decorated with rangoli, diyas, lights, and artwork. An annakut of delicious vegetarian food, delicious treats, and delectable desserts was meticulously arranged by volunteers. Attendees dressed in their colorful and bright traditional Indian attire. The aura and atmosphere of the Mandir was warm and festive.
The celebrations offered attendees an opportunity for darshan of the annakut and divine murtis of God while arti and thaal were sung throughout the day. Visitors were also inspired through an exhibition on with informational posters and decorations describing different traditions and stories behind the multi-day festival. In expressing the warmth and goodwill of Diwali, prasad in the form of sweets was distributed to all those joining in the celebrations. The festivities were open to all members of the local community.
A parent visiting the temple with their young family commented that the exhibition was an educational experience for young children and adults who want to learn about Diwali. Samir Patel of South Barrington expressed “I think it’s important for parents to bring their kids so they can understand what our culture is about, our traditions and our religion. Coming to the mandir we learn to appreciate and be proud of those things instead of being embarrassed or ashamed.”
Volunteers who helped with the decorations and rangoli emphasized how rewarding it felt to take part this year and celebrate with community members after so many months of the pandemic.
A Kids’ Diwali celebration is also held each year consisting of interactive games, thrilling activities, and programs covering the history and purpose of Diwali. Due to COVID-related safety considerations for children, the Kids’ Diwali celebration will be held virtually this year on November 13. The program will allow children to learn about the significance of Diwali and to take part in a virtual pooja to offer their prayers.
The spiritual leader of BAPS, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, prayed for devotees’ spiritual, personal, and professional progress in this new year. This Diwali, Mahant Swami Maharaj emphasized the importance of leading spiritually-centered lives, grounded in strong values and increased attachment to God.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) is a spiritual, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to improving society through individual growth by fostering the Hindu ideals of faith, unity, and selfless service. Its worldwide network of 3,800 centers supports 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.”