Arya Samaj of Greater Houston Celebrates Diwali Yagna with CGI

Diwali outdoor yagna with CGI Aseem Mahajan, ASGH Sanjeev Jain, and seven yajman families.

By Maya and Shriya Bindal

Houston: On November 6, 2021, members of Arya Samaj Greater Houston gathered to celebrate Diwali Yajna in a safe and festive environment. Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, celebrates the spiritual victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and new beginnings. In order to celebrate this grand occasion together, the organizers of ASGH’s Diwali celebration planned many cultural events while still implementing COVID-19 protocols.

The program began with outdoor Yajna prayers with Consul General of India, Houston Shri Aseem Mahajan Ji, Sanjay Jain Ji with their spouses along with seven Yajmaan families sitting around Havan Kunds in a beautiful paradise evening next to Brays Bayou lake. Everyone was welcomed with a tikka by Arya youth members to start the celebrations. Soon after, the Yagya (Havan) performed by Acharyaji in the grand outdoor Yagyshala began. With the combined efforts of the AYM youth, volunteers, DAV teachers and event coordinators, the Diwali celebration continued smoothly. After prayers CGI emphasized that India is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. Commemorating 75 years of Independence, culture and glorious history of people, freedom struggle and rich traditions with many cultural programs planned in 2022 by artist from India and requesting local audience to participate in them with fervor.

After the Havan, the cultural events, performed by the children in the DAVMS and DAVSS, began. DAVSS students in the singing elective started the performances with a beautifully sung bhajan. Following the bhajan, DAVSS and DAVMS students from various age groups performed a variety of dances. These students attend Arya Samaj every Sunday, and they practiced for weeks to present stunning performances. As DAVSS classes are held online, all performers had to learn online and practice on their own. Through these performances, the children were able to have fun and present what they learned in their elective classes throughout the year.

There was also a new competition this year called the fancy dress competition. Everyone that participated in this event portrayed a different character from the Ramayan. Through this experience, participants were able to creatively show what they learned about the Ramayan in their classes. Following the cultural events, a raffle was held where everyone who purchased tickets had the chance to win prizes such as a ring doorbell or a lego set.

As last year’s Diwali festival had to be done online due to COVID, the event organizers were eager to have this year’s event be in person. Audience members were socially distanced, and seats were placed 3 feet apart. To further secure a COVID safe celebration, boxed food and fireworks were distributed to guests. The safety protocols put in place allowed the members of Arya Samaj to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate Diwali to its full extent.

Arya Samaj strives to bring the community together and create a close and familial environment where everyone feels at home. Through these events, and their classes, they hope to pass on knowledge of Hindu culture to younger generations. The Diwali event is not only a way to celebrate and learn about Hindu culture but to bring the people of Arya Samaj together in these difficult times.