Grand Diwali celebrations at Grayslake Hindu Temple

CHICAGO: Diwali festival that marks the victory of good over evil and light over darkness was celebrated at Grayslake Temple for five days with all the Vaidic rituals. More than 500 devotees came and enjoyed a truly fascinating festival that exhibited luminous glow with bright lines of light both inside and outside of the temple, symbolizing a bright and prosperous future.

On October 21, Dhan Thriyodashi started with Kalash Sthapan, followed by Lord Ganesh, Lord Kuber and Goddess Laxmi Abhishekam, Pujan, and Archana to obtain their blessings for prosperity and wellbeing.
Pandit Anil Joshi chanted devotional hymns eulogizing Goddess Lakshmi and explained the significance of Dhan Thriyodashi by saying welcome Dhan-Lakshmi into life by lighting number of lamps and asked devotees to venerate the wealth as the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi.

grays-lake-dpOn October 22, Choti Diwali called Kali Chaudas was performed with all religious rituals in the temple by decorating Kali swaroop Devi Ma in Mahishasur Mardini Alankar by Geetha Patil. Pandit Joshi let women perform Chausat Yogini Puja and men to perform Lord Bhairav Pujan while he was chanting their ashtottara shatanamavali. Devotees wore black dresses and brought home-made black sweets and fruits for Nivedyam.
Pt. Joshi enlightened devotees by saying Kali Chaudas is a day to abolish laziness and evil forces from lives and let light shine all around and fill the body with new energy. He added that black absorbs negative energy from your surroundings and protects you from harm and pessimism. Ma Kali wears black dress to absorb our pap and tap.

On October 23, special Abhishekam, Pujan, and Archana for Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi along with Lord Kartikeya were performed by Pandit Ganesh.

Devotees with immense devotion worshipped Ma Lakshmi who is considered the goddess of light, beauty, good fortune and wealth to bring prosperity and give strength to achieve success and fortune. Deeplaxmi Alankaram was done for the special attraction of the day.
Pt. Joshi gave a brief discourse on the importance of Lakshmi Pujan on Deepavali Day and the logic behind her choosing different Vahans for traveling such as horse, elephant, and owl. She uses horse and elephant only one day in a year but for the 363 days she uses owl for her ride. Grandly dressed up devotees in their traditional clothes enjoyed Puja, Deepamala, fire crackers and fanfare in the temple.

On October 24 Vikrami New Year, the temple was opened early morning for devotees to have the Darshan and blessings of deities. Devotes greeted each other by saying Bestu Varas and Saal Mubaarak. Pt. Joshi distributed Sabras (salt – which means all taste) to devotees as a traditional ritual of Gujarati community to make the devotees’ New Year prosperous and wished them heartily Nutanvarsh abhinandan.

The next day after Diwali Parva, Annakut Mahotsav with Govardhan Pujan was performed in the temple. Devotees offered their humble gratitude to Lord Krishna by bringing more than 150 home-made dishes and to get the blessings of Lakshmi and Annapurna.

Bhajan were sung by Rita Patel, Geetha Patil, Kaushika Ben, Atul Soni, Kamalesh Desai and other devotees. Pt. Joshi spoke on the significance of Annakut, Govardhan Pujan and Bhai Dooj and offered a grand Naivedyam in Govardhan form with all the rituals and blessed devotees for their welfare and prosperity.

A sumptuous Maha Prasadam feast prepared by Kamal Gupta, Neelkanth and team was arranged for the devotees to enjoy the occasion. President Harsh Kumar warmly greeted all the devotees and generously thanked all the volunteers for their time and hard work in making this festival of lights a grand success.

Geeta Patil