A glittering array of twinkles filled the night as traditional candles were lit by devotees during the Diwali and Hindu New Year (Vikram Samvat 2075) Celebrations on Thursday November 8, 2018, at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, located at 61 Claireville Drive, Toronto.
The ancient tradition of lighting candles, or diva, during Diwali symbolizes the transition from darkness to light. While the diva lit on Diwali remove physical darkness, the festival’s rich traditions and rituals go deeper – inviting individuals to make efforts in removing darkness from within, in the forms of anger, envy, greed, arrogance, and resentment. Diwali presents a time to reflect and introspect.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto marked the auspicious festival of Diwali and its associated five days of celebrations with an elaborate Annakut, lighted diva, fireworks, and a special children’s Diwali celebration. The celebrations were open to all. Visitors participated in celebration activities, offered prayers for new beginnings and had the opportunity to taste in the delicious offerings of the Annakut. Several dignitaries also participated in the celebrations.
Addressing the gathering, The Honourable Doug Ford Premier of Ontario said, “said, “Happy Diwali, Happy New Year to everyone. Each and everyone of you make me feel right at home when I come here. I wish everyone in Ontario could see this [the Annakut], it’s absolutely unbelievable. I understand it’s all about ‘Unity’ and what at great message…I just wanted to emphasize, you have treated our family incredibly well here…we are forever grateful to you. The contribution of your community to the province is absolutely incredible.”
His Worship Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton said, “As we celebrate the Festival of Lights, there is no where I would rather to be than here at the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir. I had the chance to visit the BAPS [Akshardham] Mandirs in Delhi and Gandhinagar and I feel so proud that we have this here in Canada . This is a testament to the Hindu faith. Every time I am here, I marvel at this architectural success and I am very proud that we have this in the GTA. On behalf of the city of Brampton I wanted to say how proud we are to celebrate the festival of Diwali”
Other special guests attending the celebrations included:
Honourable Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C.
Mr. Deepak Anand, MPP for Mississauga—Malton
Mr. Amarjot Sandu, MPP for Brampton West
The five days of Diwali (including the Hindu new year) are rich in cultural traditions and rituals that symbolize new beginnings and a renewed commitment to family. The bright colours of Rangoli (intricate designs made of colored powder), the lighting of diva, and the elaborate variety of vegetarian foods offered to God (called an Annakut), all mark a renewal of the good within and the goodwill towards others. Diwali presents Hindus with an opportunity to connect with and celebrate the traditions of their roots.
Offering his prayers to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, guru and inspirer of BAPS, prayed for devotees around the world for continued personal, and professional growth in the new year. Mahant Swami Maharaj used the occasion of Diwali to remind individuals and families about the importance of leading spiritually-centered lives, grounded in strong values and increased attachment to God.
This year, Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations took place at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandirs across Canada including Toronto, Scarborough, Cambridge, Windsor and Calgary.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s commitment to preserving Hindu traditions 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 heritage, practices and principles. By 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 activities preserving heritage and practices.