Parents seeking to preserve and pass on heritage and religious teachings to their children in Canada, found a place of learning and cultural preservation at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir’s Annual Diwali Celebrations held on Friday October 20, 2017.
Diwali, a five-day celebration of meaningful rituals and practices, welcomes the New Year for Hindus and celebrates the triumph of good over evil in scriptural events. For many visitors, the most popular attraction and a highlight of the festivities is the Annakut on the fifth day. As practiced by BAPS Swaminarayan Mandirs, the Annakut is a unique offering of devotion where hundreds of different traditional Indian and international vegetarian foods are prepared by devotees and offered in front of the sacred images. In the evening, the offered dishes are shared with the community as sanctified food. This year, over a thousand unique items were prepared and offered in the Annakut.
In addition to the Annakut, the Diwali celebrations featured spiritual and cultural themed events, which engaged both children and adults, bringing positive energy to the New Year. Furthermore, visitors and members learned about scriptural events related to Diwali, and observed traditions such as rangoli and other forms of decorations. The theme for this year’s celebration was Unity.
Special Guests on the occasion, amongst others, included: Mayor John Tory, Mayor of the City of Toronto; Mr. Dinesh Bhatia, Consul General of India; Kirsty Duncan, MP, Minister of Science; Patrick Brown, MPP (Simcoe North), Leader, Official Opposition; Dipika Damerla, MPP (Mississauga East—Cooksville), Minister of Seniors Affairs; Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, MPP (Etobicoke North); Councillor Vincent Crisanti, City Councillor for Ward 1 Etobicoke North
Mayor John Tory said, “I am so happy to be here at the Mandir for Diwali. I last saw you when His Holiness was here in July for the 10th Anniversary Celebration. When I had the chance to be in the presence of His Holiness, he talked about unity being the theme for this year. It is such an appropriate theme for our city. I tell people all over the city to come here to see this Mandir and that you all are proud and contributing members of this city.”
Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, MPP, who had recently nominated the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir for an award by the Ontario Association of Architects at Queens Park, said, “It was my privilege and honour to nominate and celebrate the winning entry for this architectural masterpiece.”