Abu Dhabi: Colours, lights and food fused with joy and tradition engulfed the atmosphere in Abu Mureikha – Abu Dhabi. The Indian Festival of Lights more commonly known as Diwali was celebrated at the BAPS Hindu Mandir by over 10,000 visitors for the third consecutive year. The celebrations continued throughout the day. Visitors were greeted with a festive and traditional welcome at the entrance by a colourful Rangoli, an ornate floor design made from coloured powder, displaying various traditional Hindu symbols.
Hundreds of dignitaries joined in the celebrations including His Excellency, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance and Co-existence of the UAE. After lighting a lamp, His Excellency wished everyone a very happy and luminous Diwali. He went on to say “May the light of Diwali fill your homes with abundance and bless your relationships with joy and laughter as you share this wonderful celebration. I share in your joy as you rejoice in your victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Diwali is a global celebration that unites people irrespective of religion, culture, nationality or caste. Here in the UAE Diwali has become an important event that celebrates the culture and traditions of India. In the spirit of Diwali, Indians everywhere enrich the world – may this Diwali be a special time of new and rekindled relationships, may this day be a joyous occasion that brings you the utmost peace, and may you and your families be blessed with good health, may this Diwali be an opportunity for enriching and enhancing peace, love, tolerance and human fraternity”. Earlier His Excellency was guided, by Pujya Brahmvihari Swami Head of BAPS Middle East, through the Mandir construction site. Upon seeing the stone structure, carvings and pillars His Excellency commented, “this Mandir is going to be iconic and unique. The craftsmanship is intricate and amazing, and the place will help spread global harmony.”
Other dignitaries included His Excellency Sunjay Sudhir, India’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. His Excellency Jose Aguero Avila, Republic of Paraguay Ambassador to the UAE.
Well-wishers enjoyed an intricate and decorative display of 1,200 food dishes known as Annakut, meaning, a mountain of food,’ along with a thoughtful exhibition celebrating 100 years of the BAPS spiritual leader – Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
In preparation for the festivities, 400 volunteers, young and old, gave their time to help create decorations, prepare for children’s Diwali, and set the stage for the most significant ritual of Diwali, the ‘Annakut,’ a traditional offering of food to God to celebrate the beginning of the Hindu New Year.
In addition, visitors were able to witness different deeply rooted cultural programmes including devotional songs performed by prominent Indian communities.
Sharing some sentiments from his visit, Sharad Parmar expressed “My family and I had an amazing time celebrating and visiting the BAPS Mandir. As we entered the site, we were greeted by courteous volunteers right from the parking lot. Exemplifying the spirit of Volunteerism from within the community. BAPS Abu Dhabi Diwali Celebration BAPS Abu Dhabi Diwali Celebration
Another visitor Nikita Odedra from London was particularly impressed with the decorations within the marquee upon her first visit to the site with her family. Commenting on her experience she said, “I am deeply moved after reading detailed history leading up to the construction of the Mandir and the BAPS organization”.
Catering to all age groups, BAPS Hindu Mandir constructed a fun fair area for children, wherein they were able to participate in various interactive activities and insightful games teaching them the significance of the festival and family values, as well as, the importance of community service through the volunteers whom organized and conducted the entire event under the guidance of the Saints.
In keeping with the Diwali and Hindu New Year’s sentiments of giving thanks and expressing gratitude, a blood camp has was organized in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Blood Bank, to allow visitors to also support the community and those in need.
Various dignitaries and government officials are expected to grace the event along with prominent local religious leaders and other leading community members.
The celebrations are an opportunity for all guests to appreciate Hindu traditions and culture.