NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – One of the most important festivals of the year for many Indians and those of Indian heritage is here.
Diwali is known as the Festival of Lights. According to a recent Pew Research study, seven in 10 Indian-Americans celebrate the holiday.READ MORE: NYPD Officers Jason Rivera, Wilbert Mora Shot In Deadly Confrontation With Suspect Lashawn McNeil In Harlem
The Festival of Lights is celebrated by more than a billion people across the globe. Though the five day holiday of Diwali has many different pronunciations, spellings, and meanings, the common theme of light over darkness and the triumph of good over evil prevails.
It’s most commonly observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists.
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“Diwali is a festival of light, a festival of invoking prosperity, abundance and letting go of the feeling of greed,” said Kaurna Gauranga of the Bhakti Center, Manhattan’s Hindu temple.
“We carry a lot of darkness in ourselves and in society today. We want to bring joy and love and light into it,” said Rukmini Poddar of the Bhakti Center.READ MORE: Harden's Triple-Double Helps Nets Top Murray, Spurs
The Bhakti Center opened its doors to the public for its second annual celebration Sunday evening, inviting worshippers in to enjoy traditional Indian street food, musical numbers and prayer, or “puja.”
“We really hope that every person who walks through the doors feels a sense of spiritual nourishment, but also a sense of just home,” said Poddar. “In New York, in a place where people can often feel so alone and isolated, we want to create that sense of real community.”
In the temple, or “mandir,” worshipers sung along to devotional songs of prayer, and then watched as a dancer performed an interpretive number, explaining the stories behind the holiday.
“The hope is we bring this festival within our heart into our lives, into every day, into our work, and then truly every one moment will be like the wonderful festival,” said Gauranga.
The night wrapped up with individual prayer in the temple to the center’s main Hindu deities Radha Krishna, with flames symbolizing a prosperous year ahead, filled with gratitude and good fortune.
The holiday falls between October and November, but the exact dates change each year based on the Hindu lunar calendar.MORE NEWS: Sorokin, Nelson Lead Islanders To Win Over Coyotes