CHICAGO: A grand five-day Diwali celebration that culminated with the Annakut celebration (a decorative offering of vegetarian sweets and food) at Shri Swami Narayan Temple in Bartlett attracted hundreds of Hindus and other community members all the days but more so for the Annakut on the Hindu New Year’s day.
The five days of Diwali included a set of joyous cultural traditions that symbolize new beginnings. Hindu families celebrated the five days with lighted diyas (candles), and rangoli (colorful drawings and sketches), fireworks, and a variety of food.
Each year, the temple celebrates with a themed exhibition, put together by volunteer adults and children, to highlight important cultural and traditional values. This year, themed “Timeless Truths”, the temple inspired visitors to bring in 2020 with a positive outlook, to overcome obstacles through faith, love and tolerance, and to seek guidance from our gurus to experience daily peace.
The celebrations were open to all communities, regardless of religion or background. Bartlett police officer Kyle Rybaski, who has made it a point to visit the Mandir during Diwali in recent years, said, “I really enjoyed the message of having a positive outlook towards life and BAPS really gives back to the community so it’s nice to give back to them and meet the community members here.”
Offering his prayers to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Mahant Swami Maharaj prayed for the devotees’ spiritual, personal, and professional growth 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 for individuals and families.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is a worldwide spiritual and humanitarian organization that is dedicated to community service, peace, and harmony. Through various spiritual and humanitarian activities, BAPS endeavors to develop better citizens of tomorrow with high esteem for their roots and culture. Its 3,300 international centers support these character-building activities
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 temple in Mumbai, he became known as Mahant Swami. Mahant Swami Maharaj became the guru and President of BAPS upon Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s passing away in 2016.
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.