Lo­cal tem­ple marks Di­wali hol­i­day with cel­e­bra­tion, feast

North Penn Life - - News - By Jen­nifer Law­son jlaw­son@jour­nalregis­ter.com

More than 400 veg­e­tar­ian food items lined the al­tar in­side BAPS Shri Swami­narayan Mandir, a eindu tem­ple Ln HDW­fiHld, FUHDWLng D VWun­ning, col­or­ful and fra­grant feast for the eyes — and stom­achs.

Called an­nakut, mean­ing “a moun­tain of food,” this of­fer­ing is made to Bhag­wan, the supreme be­ing in ein­duism, as part of the cel­e­bra­tion of Di­wali.

Di­wali is the most im­por­tant hol­i­day in the eindu faith, ac­cord­ing to tem­ple mem­ber Vi­raj Pa­tel, com­pa­ra­ble to Christ­mas and New Year’s Day.

“It’s cel­e­brated really big in In­dia — ev­ery­thing is shut down, and you save your best dress for this day,” she said.

Di­wali is also called the Fes­ti­val of Lights, and it sym- bolizes the “vic­tory of good over evil and light over dark­ness,” said Mayank Amin, a spokesper­son for the tem­ple.

“It’s a cel­e­bra­tion full of color, beauty and life. It’s what our cul­ture is com­posed of,” he said. “It brings the com­mu­nity to­gether and al­lows ev­ery­one to have a new start, cor­rect mis­takes and do bet­ter.”

DLwDlL LV D fiYH-dDy FHle­bra­tion, Amin said. The ac­tual hol­i­day took place Nov. 14 in In­dia, but is cel­e­brated on a Sun­day so it doesn’t FRn­flLFW wLWK wRUN VFKH­d­ules.

In In­dia, devo­tees dec­o­rate their homes for Di­wali, spe­cial mu­sic is played and peo­ple go from one house to an­other to visit and eat, sim­i­lar to how Christ­mas is cel­e­brated in this coun­try.

The lo­cal com­mu­nity was in­vited to the tem­ple to take part in the cel­e­bra­tion Sun­day. Some mem­bers in­vited their co-work­ers and their fam­i­lies, and lo­cal dig­ni­taries, in­clud­ing r.S. Rep. Mike Fitz­patrick, R-8, at­tended.

The tem­ple was alive with DFWLYLWy — WKH KDll wDV fil­lHd with wor­ship­pers sit­ting on WKH flRRU Dnd VLngLng bHIRUH the food-cov­ered al­tar, lunch for the es­ti­mated 1,500 at­ten­dees was be­ing pre­pared in the kitchen and lit­tle girls were ask­ing their moth­ers for money to get their nails painted.

Priyal Pa­tel was one of the tem­ple mem­bers who was do­ing mehndi, or ap­ply­ing henna tat­toos, on women’s hands and arms. eenna stays on the skin for a few weeks, she said, and is usu­ally done be­fore a wed­ding cer­e­mony and dur­ing hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions.

The large food of­fer­ing is one of the high­lights of Di­wali, said Kam­lesh Pa­tel, com­mu­nity outreach co­or­di­na­tor for the tem­ple.

Tra­di­tional In­dian dishes, fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles and many Amer­i­can food items, such as eershey bars, were part of the of­fer­ing on the al­tar. Later in the day, the food is eaten.

Pa­tel ex­plained that the tem­ple hands out stain­less steel bowls to mem­bers who want to cook, and a list is dis­trib­uted about a month be­fore so mem­bers can sign up to cook cer­tain items.

The food is pre­pared the morn­ing of the cel­e­bra­tion.

“The food is mostly made by our moms, and they make veg­e­tar­ian del­i­ca­cies,” Amin said. “My mom was up at 3 a.m. mak­ing food. They put in that ex­tra ef­fort and it really cre­ates a sense of to­geth­er­ness.”

Cel­e­brat­ing Di­wali is im­por­tant to ein­dus in the rnited States, he said.

“We don’t want to lose that cul­ture,” Amin said. “And by invit­ing the com­mu­nity, it gives our non-eindu guests a chance to learn about our cul­ture.”

Photo by JEN­NIFER LAW­SON

Mem­bers of the BAPS Shri Swami­narayan Mandir in Hat­field take part in a prayer as part of the Di­wali cel­e­bra­tion Sun­day.

Photo by MAYANK AMIN

A cake made by mem­bers of BAPS Shri Swami­narayan Mandir in Hat­field serves as the cen­ter­piece of an­nakut, or “moun­tain of food.”

Photo by MAYANK AMIN

An el­der blesses a younger mem­ber of the tem­ple dur­ing the Di­wali cel­e­bra­tion.

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