Growing up in India, Khyati Patel read comic books on the Ramayan. Every time she would ask a question about Bhagwan Ram and Sita’s journey, her mother would narrate the epic story by heart. She was always intrigued when hearing about when Ram would triumph over Ravan and bring Sita back to Ayodhya. She felt a sense of peace and restoration of balance. After each narration, Khyati would take away a new moral and apply it to her life. It is with this spirit that millions of Hindus celebrate the festival of Diwali every year.
To celebrate every Diwali, Khyati Patel’s grandmother would make an assortment of sweets or mithai from milk or nuts and a sprinkle of saffron. The family would pack into a car and drive to the nearest BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, where they would celebrate with family and friends. Dressing up in traditional, colorful clothes, they would wish each other sentiments of prosperity.
Now it was her turn to pass on the stories, rituals and traditions to her children. She hoped to re-create the same experiences for her children that she had growing up. Naturally it made sense for her to visit the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Parsippany which offered various events tailored for her children. Her kids performed the traditional rituals of Chopda Pujan, Dhan Teras, and Arti at the Children’s Diwali Celebration along with playing games and eating delicious food.
In an age where traditions and morals are challenging to maintain, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj invests time to build the roots of ancient rituals for generations. On the surface, Diwali is the most colorful holiday with fireworks, rangolis, beautiful decorations, variety of mithais, fancy flowers and lit divos. But the true essence of Diwali is an internal journey of dispelling darkness in the forms of ego, anger, jealously, greed, and envy and invoking the light to bring in positive virtues of patience, contentment, compassion and inner-stability. Pramukh Swami Maharaj is a living example of positive virtues that we can strive towards with sincere efforts. Through introspection at this auspicious time, we can overcome our negative virtues and bring out the light from within.
This Diwali welcomed several hundred visitors to the mandir to mark the festivities of the holiday. Spiritual discourses by Swamis reiterated the stories and messages from decades ago of the Ramayan into current day familial scenarios. Children enjoyed beautiful decorations and carnival rides. Volunteers helped with the grand Annakut on New Year’s Day to offer the first harvest to the murtis of God. This conveyed a sentiment of gratitude towards God because He is the giver of all fruits. Throughout the day, people observed the Annakut in admiration as they conversed about their favorite dish. The amazing fireworks inspired responses of awe, while the brightness filled the dark sky symbolizing the prevalence of good over evil.
Khyati left this Diwali with the hope that the coming year will bring joy and peace to her family and instill moral values for her children to pass onto coming generations. Not only was she able to be a spectator of the beautiful colors of Diwali, she left with a sense of ease by applying virtues displayed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj into her life.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide socio-spiritual organization 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 social and spiritual activities, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow who have a high esteem for their roots. Its 3,300 international centers support these character-building activities. Under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is morally, ethically and spiritually pure, and free of addictions.
About Pramukh Swami Maharaj
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, has inspired millions of people across the world to lead a God-centered, morally pure life. As the present leader of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj has traveled extensively, emphasizing the importance of family harmony, community service and spiritual progress. He embodies the essence of Hindu life. His compassion for humanity, universal wisdom and striking simplicity has touched many world religious and national leaders.
For more details, please visit www.baps.org.