Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hindus to Celebrate Diwali with Feasts, Music and Prayers

Picked up from The Rockville Patch

Hindus to Celebrate Diwali with Feasts, Music and Prayers
Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights and marks the beginning of a new year

By Sonia Dasgupta

Hundreds of locals Hindus will spend Wednesday evening celebrating Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, in temples across the Washington metropolitan region.

“Diwali marks a new birth of the inner light or knowledge, a journey from falsehood to truth and overcoming evil with goodness,” said Pandit Pitamber Dutt Sharma, head priest of The Hindu Temple of Metropolitan, Washington in Adelphi.

Equivalent to the Hindu New Year, the celebration reflects a story in the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu holy book. It’s when Lord Rama returns after being exiled for 14 years by vanquishing the demon-king Ravana.

Hindus celebrate his return with feasts, music, praying and the lighting of lamps.

The five-day festival started Monday, with each day marking a spiritual cleansing for Hindus, said Vijay Kushawaha, volunteer coordinator with The Hindu Temple of Metropolitan, Washington in Adelphi.

Each region of India celebrates Diwali differently based on its own cultural interpretations.

Traditionally, on the first day, Hindus buy new dishes, utensils, or gold marking the auspicious occasion, Kushawaha said. On the second day, they should clean their home, to welcome God into their lives, getting rid of any demons.

The third day marks the official Diwali celebration, or the celebration of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the god of auspicious beginnings, she said. It brings good fortune and well being into the home. On the fourth day, Hindus celebrate Lord Krishna by offering him a “mountain of food.”

The final day is a celebration of brotherhood and celebrated with the exchanging of gifts between siblings.

For Hare Krishnas, the entire month is a holy, said Abahay Das, community secretary of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in Potomac.

“We are orthodox in that way, as opposed to observing [Diwali] as another holiday,” Das said.

Several temples around the region will hold Diwali celebrations this week:

The Hindu Temple of Metropolitan, Washington
10001 Riggs Road, Adelphi.
7:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

International Society for Krishna Consciousness
10310 Oaklyn Drive, Potomac.
6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Greater Baltimore Hindu-Jain Temple
2909 Bloom Road, Finksburg.
6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.

Washington Kali Temple
16126 New Columbia Pike Burtonsville.
7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Sri Venkateswara Lotus Temple
12501 Braddock Road, Fairfax, Va.
11 a.m. on Thursday.

Durga Temple of Virginia
8400 Durga Place, Fairfax Station, Va.
6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

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