Diwali Celebrated at Arya Samaj


By Roma Nayyar &  Rhea Chadha

HOUSTON: On Saturday November 2, crowds flocked to Arya Samaj Greater Houston to enjoy a fun filled evening and celebrate Deepavali with their friends and family. Everyone was personally greeted by tilak before proceeding to the Main Hall to watch the amazing program for the evening. The hall was bedecked with lights, marigolds, and many other beautiful decorations, creating a festive setting for the ensuing events.

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Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is the festival of lights and symbolizes the return of Shri Ram, Lakshman and Sita after a 14 year exile. Lamps, or diyas, are lit all over India to mark the homecoming of Shri Ram and light up the path to guide him home. Firecrackers are also set off to welcome Ayodhya’s king home. Diwali is celebrated on the new moon of the month Kartik according to the Indian calendar and usually occurs late October or early November. Thousands of years ago, Diwali was a harvest festival but has since developed into the festival celebrated today.

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The program was kicked off by the ceremonial Havan, which was followed by a discourse by Acharya Surya Nandaji, discussing the meaning of Diwali, its importance to Indian culture, its historical significance, and how it is celebrated all over India.

The insightful lecture was followed by melodious bhajans and the start of the Diwali program put together by the children of DAV Montessori and Sanskriti Schools. The first performance of the cultural program was a beautiful song by the children of DAV Montessori School which was taught to them by Smritiji. She accompanied the children on the harmonium. This was followed by an enthralling dance performance by the DAVMS children, choreographed by their dance teacher Sharmitha Sampath.

As an intermission to the great performances, awards were presented to the winners of the India Awareness Contest. The DAV Sanskriti School had an India Awareness Month during October, where the school’s curriculum was based on the history and culture of India. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize winners were called up on stage to receive awards, and the awards were presented to them by Shri Saroj Bala Nayyar.

After the awards were presented, the audience was entertained by two captivating songs performed by both the kids of DAVMS and DAVSS- Ramji ki Nikli Sawaari and Chanda Chumke Chum Chum. The cultural program ended on a high note with an energetic and spirited dance performance.

After the conclusion of the program, Acharyaji led the Main Hall in Aarti (prayer) and asked for blessings from God for a prosperous and peaceful year ahead.

The weather was perfect at 70 degrees for an outdoor Diwali Mela. Bright lights covered the Arya Samaj lawns with a magnificent glow. The highlight of the Mela was delicious fresh homemade Indian food prepared and served by Arya Samaj volunteers.  Members of Arya Samaj Youth Mandal were instrumental in making sure that the festivities were fun for all. They had many game stalls that attracted children of all ages. Young children had an opportunity to Pin the flame on Diya, Spin the Wheel, Ring Toss into coke bottles, Knock out bowling pins, and then there were the crowd favorites, face painting and henna.

No Diwali celebration can be complete without fireworks! At 8:15 pm, the crowds enjoyed a spectacular professionally organized firework display. After the display children had an opportunity to set off some fireworks themselves.  They enjoyed the sparklers, firepots, and the little snaps in a safe environment with Houston Fire Department’s fire truck standing by.

Diwali celebration at Arya Samaj brings families and friends together to illuminate the proud community spirit and cultural heritage of India. Like many years previously and many more to come, this year too, Diwali was celebrated at Arya Samaj with much enthusiasm and fanfare.