Community leaders join the festival of lights at the Hindu temple in Chantilly, Virginia
Colors, lights and food fused with joy and tradition as Diwali, the Indian festival of lights was celebrated at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chantilly, Virginia with several community leaders joining the festivities.
Visitors to the Oct 22 Diwali celebration 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, according to a BAPS press release.
Special guests included US Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, candidate for US Congress Captain Hung Cao, Dulles District Supervisor Matthew Letourneau, Loudoun Supervisor Kristen Umstattd, Virginia State Delegate Suhas Subramanyam, candidate for Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk, and candidate for Virginia House Kannan Srinivasan.
“Absolutely beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,” said Wexton. “It’s wonderful to see so many young people participating because it’s always inspiring to see young people come from another country and bring their culture with them.”
“That is fantastic because it really only takes one generation to lose the language, the culture through food, dance and everything like music.”
In preparation for the festivities, many devotees, young and old, gave their time to help create decorations, prepare for children’s Diwali, and set the stage for the most significant ritual of Diwali, ‘Annakut,’ literally ‘a mountain of food,’ traditionally offered to God to celebrate the beginning of the Hindu New Year.
“What I love about this area is the different cultures and to see different backgrounds come together and celebrate,” said Cao. “The food is always the thing that draws everyone together. It draws people together and makes everybody happy.”
At temples across North America, the glow of the lights, bright colors, and festive ambiance at the mandirs welcomed visitors as they took in the colors of the rangoli. Visitors joyfully offered prayers for the year ahead, and also had the opportunity to partake in prasadam (sanctified food).
Read: Joyous Diwali Celebrations At BAPS Mandir (August 15, 2022)
The multiple days of Diwali are steeped in traditions and rituals that symbolize new beginnings and a renewed commitment to family, according to the release.
This year BAPS spiritual leader Mahant Swami Maharaj celebrated Diwali and Annakut in Gondal, in Gujarat, India and blessed the devotees for a happy and peaceful new year. BAPS is a spiritual organization of Hindu faith with a worldwide network of 3,800 centers.