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October 14, 2009 > A festival of lights

A festival of lights

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By courtesy of Sandip Shah

When the air chills and the moon glows brighter, the desire to celebrate the good things in life grows. Whether it is the exuberance of a harvest festival or the beginning of the lunar New Year, spookiness of Halloween or the gaiety of Diwali; the essence remains the same down through the generations; to rejoice and celebrate the season. Diwali, in all its grandeur, arrives at this time of the year representing a celebration of light, both literally and metaphorically. Diwali, from the sanskrit word Deepavali means a garland of lamps, an accurate description for this remarkable Indian festival. Earthen lamps called diyas and candles illuminate houses while flaming streams of light from fireworks create kaleidoscopic patterns against a black canvas of the sky.

Diwali signifies many different things: a celebration of Lord Rama's return to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana and his coronation as king; honoring Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha and in Bengal, Goddess Kali. Jains commemorate Diwali as the day Lord Mahavira, the last of the Tirthankaras or saints, attained Nirvana, or liberation. Lighting lamps is explained as a material substitute for the light of holy knowledge that was extinguished with Mahavira's passing. Sikhs celebrate Diwali to express joy at the return of the Sixth Guru, Hargobind, to Amritsar in 1620. Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned him along with 52 Hindu kings. The Guru was granted freedom but refused to leave until the kings were also released.

Gifts are exchanged and festive meals are prepared during this five-day festival. It is the traditional time to replenish wardrobes, decorate homes, purchase new items and exchange sweets and savouries with friends. New clothes signify the renewal of life.

The festival begins with Dhanteras, a day set aside to worship the goddess of prosperity, Shri Lakshmi. Lustrous Lakshmi is the consort of Vishnu and her statue is found in every home. On the second day Kali, or Shakti, the Goddess of power, is worshipped. On the third day, lamps are lit, shining brightly in every home, symbolizing knowledge. Ceremonial worship, Lakshmi Puja is performed on this day.

Goddess Lakshmi stands on a lotus. She has lotuses in various stages of bloom in her two hands and wears a lotus garland. Cascades of gold coins flow from her hands, suggesting that those who worship her gain wealth. She always wears gold-embroidered red clothes, as red symbolizes activity and the golden lining indicates prosperity.

Lakshmi is the Goddess of Wealth and Ganesha is the Lord of Happiness. Lakshmi and Ganesha Puja is performed for prosperity, material abundance, and spiritual prosperity. The fourth day of Diwali, also called Vishkarma Day, marks the coronation of the legendary King Vikramaditya. Families celebrate the New Year by dressing in new clothes, wearing jewelry and visiting friends and family. On the final day of the festival, Bali, a titanic figure in Indian Mythology, is recalled.

India Community Center, Milpitas

To honor seniors and pay tribute to their experiences India Community Center is hosting a fun-filled festival. The gala event will showcase dazzling Bollywood dance performances by Mona Sampath Dance Company, lilting music by DJ Salim and Stand Up Comedy. Enter a raffle to win prizes and enjoy a scrumptious evening of dining and entertainment. Care will be available for children ages two to 13 for $10. To reserve a space write to

Fremont Hindu Temple

Diwali has been celebrated with great enthusiasm at Fremont Hindu Temple every year. "This year we are celebrating Diwali at the temple with a Diwali Mela. There will be more than 20 stalls showcasing jewelry, mehandi, kids corner, games, food stalls," said Ajay Jain Bhutoria, Chairman of the Youth Committee. "We will also have a cultural program, Indian cultural quiz competition for kids ages six to 12. Quiz competition will be held from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. Rangoli Competition, Dance and Music Program will continue for rest of the day. There will be special Diwali Pooja in the evening," he added.

For more information on kids booth contact Ajay Jain Bhutoria at (510) 378-0698 or write to Participants may also register at the temple office.

Shreemaya Krishnadham

Shreemaya Krishnadham Temple and Community will celebrate Diwali in the traditional way for five days at the Center in Milpitas. In each event of Diwali lies the significance of the victory of good over evil and in the lights that illuminate our homes and our hearts, this simple truth finds new reason and hope.

Diwali Celebrations and Mela

Fremont Hindu Temple
3676 Delaware Drive, Fremont
(510) 659-0655

Thursday, October 15
Dhan Teras: 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Friday, October 16
Chhoti Diwali Pooja, Roop Chaudas: 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Mela and Booths: 2 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Saturday, October 17
Mela and booths: 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Cultural Program: Noon - 5 p.m.
Bhajans: 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Shastri ji Lecture: 8:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Hawan by Govind ji: 9 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Lakshmi ji Pooja: 10 p.m.

Sunday, October 18
Govardhan Pooja, Anna Koota: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Shreemaya Krishnadham Temple and Community Center
25 Corning Ave, Milpitas
(408) 586-0006

Wednesday, October 14 - Friday, October 16
Special Satsangs: 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 17
Chopda Puja: 11 a.m.

Sunday, October 18
Mangala Aarti, Govardhan Puja, Annakut Celebrations: 7 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Milpitas Gurdwara Sahib
1180 Cadillac Court, Milpitas
(408) 719-1776

Saturday, October 17
10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Jain Temple
722 South Main Street, Milpitas
(408) 262-6242
Lord Mahavir Nirvana, Deepawali Celebration
Sunday, October 18
5:45 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

India Community Center
525 Los Coches Street, Milpitas
(408) 223-9429
Diwali Dhamaka
Friday, October 23
6 p.m. - 1 a.m.

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