Sunday 18 November 2001, Chicago, IL
People attended the Diwali Mahotsav, a weeklong celebration organized
by Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago in honor of several Hindu holidays
including Diwali, the Festival of Light and the Hindu New Year. Inspired
by BAPS Spiritual Leader, HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the Diwali Mahotsav
was planned and organized by BAPS volunteers of all ages and backgrounds
took place at the BAPS Shree Swaminarayan Mandir & Cultural Complex
in Bartlett, IL.
From November 11th to 18th, 2001, the Diwali Mahotsav boasted several highlights. These include a series of discourses on the Upanishad, an ancient Vedic scripture; Laxmi Pujan, a ceremony honoring the Goddess of Wealth; Sharda Pujan, a ceremony sanctifying personal and business accounting books; and Sneh Milan, the joyful first meeting of friends and family on New Year Day. A Grand Annakut, an offering of over 2450 different vegetarian items made by volunteers as the first meal to the Lord, and “BAPS Past-Present-Future,” an Exhibition outlining the progress of BAPS Chicago were also displayed. And finally, a New Year Celebration including a Children’s Diwali Party, “Sanskruti,” a multimedia event, traditional folk dances, spiritual discourses and a music concert by Jaydeep Swadia was also organized.
Especially noteworthy during the entire Diwali Mahotsav, was the special show of support by local and state civic leadership. Robert J. Schillerstrom, the DuPage County Board Chairman, congratulated BAPS on the First Anniversary of the Haveli, the Diwali Mahotsav and Hindu New Year through a special proclamation passed by the DuPage County Board on November 13, 2001. Several other Illinois dignitaries including Kristine Cohn, Chairman of the Winnebago County Board; Darlene Ruscitti, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, and Scott Sypolt, Assistant Attorney General and Senior Advisor to Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan also made a special effort to share the Hindu holiday season with members of the Hindu community by attending this auspicious event.