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New England Diwali Mahotsav

Ranjani Saigal

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad along several local organizations (AOL, ATFS, Ekal, HSS and Iskcon) gathered together to host a Diwali Mahotsav on Nov. 12 at the Sadhu Vaswani Center in Dracut, MA.  The event was an attempt to explain the traditions of Diwali and understand their true meaning. 

After an initial meet and greet, Dr. Abhaya Asthana performed Ganesh and Lakshmi Pooja serving as the Priest with Praveen and Ruchi Mishra and Dhanshree and Ram serving as the “Yajamans” or the performers of the Pooja. 

“The difference between Pooja and Prayer is important to understand,” said Abhaya ji . “In a Pooja you welcome Divinity into your home and treat them as an Athithi or guest. Athithi is one who comes uninvited. In a prayer you make a request.” Abhaya ji went through the 16 step process of the prayer in detail. He also explained the symbolism of Lakshmi.  

The Pooja was followed by a presentation on Diwali. “The word is Deep – Avali – a garland of lights,” said Abhaya ji. He went on to explain in different aspects of Diwali. High school students Mehul Shrivastavsa and Devansh Apte talked about the meaning of Diwali for them.

The presentation was followed by a dance presentation of Gajanana from the film Bajirao Mastani. Children from Bal Vihar presented a lovely story of Diwali. Finally Gauri Chandna let a unique story telling where she took children as characters on the spot and had them perform different roles. The children loved the exercise. 

The event ended with a lovely dinner and Garba.  It was great to understand the true meaning of Diwali.  As we have more second-generation children it is not only important to keep the tradition alive but understand its true meaning.  The event certainly accomplished that. 

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