TORONTO: A new year, a fresh new start.
Hindus and community members gathered at the magnificent BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, located at 61 Claireville Drive in Toronto, Ontario on October 28, 2019, to celebrate Diwali and the Hindu New Year 2076. Diwali is known as the festival of lights and holds special significance to Hindus.
The theme of this year’s celebration was the Vachanamrut. The Vachanamrut is a sacred scripture containing Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s divine discourses. It is an ocean of wisdom and the essence of all scriptures.
Read daily by thousands of spiritual seekers across the world, the Vachanamrut provides answers to life’s practical and spiritual questions. This year marks the 200th anniversary of this sacred scripture.
The five days of Diwali include a set of joyous traditions that symbolize new beginnings and a renewed commitment to family and society. The ancient tradition of lighting lamps during Diwali, symbolizes the transition from darkness to light. The physical act of lighting lamps on Diwali symbolizes an individual’s efforts to remove the darkness from one’s self in forms of anger, envy, greed, arrogance, and resentment. Through its thought-provoking customs and traditions, Diwali presents a time to reflect and introspect for individuals, families, and communities.
The celebrations were open to everyone. Attendees participated in celebration activities, offered prayers for new beginnings, and had the opportunity to partake in the delicious offerings of the Annakut.
Many dignitaries also attended the celebrations including:
• Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Minister of Science and Sport, and MP for Etobicoke North
• Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
• John Tory, Mayor of Toronto
• Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton
• Councillor Michael Ford, City Councillor for Ward 1 Etobicoke North
• Smt. Apoorva Srivastava, Consul General of India in Toronto
Several dignitaries also tweeted comments on social media including:
Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Minister of Science and Sport: “Celebrating Diwali and New Year at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Wishing family and friends a joyous New Year!”
Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario: “Happy to join my friends of Hindu descent to celebrate #Diwali at @BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Wishing everyone a joyous festival of lights and prosperous New Year! #BAPSDiwali #Diwali2019”
John Tory, Mayor of Toronto: “Celebrating the start of #Diwali and the Hindu New Year with members of Toronto’s South Asian community at @BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Wishing all those celebrating a joyous festival of lights and a prosperous New Year!”
Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton: “Visited the #BAPS Mandir this afternoon to celebrate #Diwali2019 and the new year. Wonderful to see my friend @JohnTory @BAPS #HappyDiwali #HappyNewYear”
Councillor Michael Ford, City Councillor for Ward 1 Etobicoke North: “…I want to thank the @BAPS Temple for having us here today!”
Similar celebrations took place at BAPS mandirs across Canada including Scarborough, Cambridge, Windsor and Calgary and at over 100 mandirs across North America. The auspicious five days of Diwali were celebrated with elaborate Annakut, lighted lamps, fireworks, and even a special children’s Diwali celebration.
Offering his prayers to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj prayed for devotees’ spiritual, personal, and professional growth in this new year. This Diwali, Mahant Swami Maharaj emphasized the importance of leading spiritually centred lives, grounded in strong values and increased attachment to God for individuals and families.
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s 100th Anniversary Celebrations in 2020:
The 100th Birth Anniversary Celebrations for His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the inspirer of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto and others around the world, will take place in Toronto in July 2020 in the presence of current spiritual leader, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. All are welcome to attend.