Arya Samaj Houston Celebrates Diwali with Drive-through Food Stalls

Houston:The current situation has changed almost every aspect of our lives. And as the pandemic continues into the holiday season, the Arya Samaj management realized that it was more important than ever to hold the annual Diwali celebration, while observing all the pandemic safety precautions.

Led by its dedicated volunteers, Arya Samaj Greater Houston hosted a unique drive-through Diwali this weekend, preserving the liveliness of the festival of lights while keeping everyone safe.

Diwali is one of the biggest Hindu festivals celebrated at Arya Samaj. This year’s drive-through Diwali consisted of food stalls with pre-packaged food boxes and sweets, a distribution and display of fireworks, and festive music and decorations. The celebrations started with a Yagya (Havan) ,  performed by Acharya ji, at the beautiful outdoor Yagyashala. . Volunteers delivered pav bhaji, chole bhature, sweets, and fireworks while families partook in Diwali from the comfort of their car. Food and firework orders were prepared beforehand so the drive-through could function as efficiently as possible. Volunteers assisted cars with their orders and greeted all of the families. Arya Samaj’s AYM youth group collected raffle tickets for fundraising, and AYM’s boy scouts held a food drive for the Houston Food Bank for donations of non-perishable food items.

Although everyone had to maintain a safe distance, and communicate with their faces covered, this weekend’s event brought our community together for an excellent celebration of our culture. Families and friends dressed up to wish each other a happy Diwali, enjoyed delicious food and music, and re-connected after Arya Samaj Houston went completely virtual this year due to COVID-19. Close to 300 people and 100 cars participated safely in this year’s celebration. The event was livestreamed to allow numerous more to participate virtually.

With meticulous planning, perfect execution and the hard work of the volunteers, the Arya Samaj hosted a very special celebration for the community in this difficult year, personifying the true spirit of Diwali – dispelling darkness and bringing the light of hope and celebration in people’s lives.  Arya Samaj Houston’s drive-through Diwali confirmed that the pandemic may change how we celebrate, but it won’t stop us from celebrating. The event was also captured by local Houston news, available to watch with this link:

The Friday evening drive through festival was followed by its DAV Sanskriti School (VSS) Sunday morning. As with all activities gone online, its Sunday School began to function virtually this year, and it joined hands with other five Arya Samajes in the United States, to form the VSS Global.

VSS Global children celebrated Deepavali virtually during their school hours. The program started with Yajna in the yagyashalla conducted by DAVSS acharyas and a message of Diwali to all children.  This followed a wonderful display of talent by the students when every child had an opportunity to contribute to at least one skill such as dance, singing, art & craft, Yogasan, Vedic chanting. Raffle draw periodically brought an element of fun., Riya Gorji is a ASGH DAV SS AYM high schooler.