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Love and Light

Region 4 - Diwali Celebrations in Leicester

Diwali & New Year celebrations in Leicester have always been special, and this year was no exception. We started with multi-faith prayers, vedam chanting and then some beautiful bhajans which were appropriate for the Festival of Lights! Great vibrations and a lovely atmosphere! And this year we had invited our esteemed guest, Dr Jaydeep Joshi to talk about Diwali festival its significance and its relevance in Hindu religion.

Dr Jaydeep explained that Diwali or Deepavali, popularly known as the "festival of lights," is primarily a five day Hindu festival which starts on Dhanteras, celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of KrishnaPaksha (dark fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin and ends on Bhaubeej, celebrated on the second lunar day of ShuklaPaksha (bright fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Kartik.

Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps cleanse one's house, and welcome goddess Lakshmi. Firecrackers are also lit because it is believed that they drive away evil spirits.

Dr Jaydeep further explained the reason for the New Year celebration. The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival is called the Naraka Chaturdasi. Amavasya, the third day of Diwali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day of Diwali is known as Kartika Shudda Padyami. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes. The devotees were all enthralled by the talk, and could have listened to Dr Jaydeep for much longer.

On this special day, we had also prepared Ankut rows & rows of mouth-watering dishes, cooked with love and offered to Swami by the devotees to celebrate the Gujarati New Year. And the dishes were wonderfully displayed for everyone to enjoy. The hall was filled with the delicious aroma of the many different dishes on display for Swami!

After the Aarti, the Ankut Mahaprashadam was served to the devotees all lovingly served and enjoyed by all!

Vinod Patel.