New York: New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Deputy Commissioner for International Affairs Dilip Chauhan joined the Hindu community to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, at the Bhakti Center, the oldest Hindu temple in Manhattan, on Saturday.
Diwali is one of the most important festivals for Hindus, who make up about 1% of the US population. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance.
More than 1500 people, including Hindus and non-Hindus, gathered at the temple to mark the occasion. The temple was adorned with colorful lights, candles, and flowers. The attendees wore traditional clothes, such as sarees, kurta-pajamas, and lehengas. They exchanged greetings, gifts, and sweets with each other.
The celebration also featured cultural performances, such as classical dances, devotional songs, and musical instruments. A woman dressed in a red saree performed a graceful dance, while others played the harmonium, tabla, and flute. The audience clapped and cheered along.
Mayor Adams, who was the chief guest, praised the Hindu community for their contributions to the city and the country. He said that he was honored to be part of the Diwali celebration and that it was a beautiful experience. He also lit a ceremonial lamp with Chauhan and other dignitaries.
Chauhan, who is the highest-ranking Indian-American official in the city government, thanked the mayor for his support and friendship. He said that Diwali was a time to celebrate the diversity and unity of New York City, which is home to people from over 200 countries. He also said that Diwali was a universal message of hope and peace for all.
The Bhakti Center, which hosted the event, is a cultural and spiritual center that promotes the teachings of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love and devotion. It was established in 1971 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). It is the oldest Hindu temple in Manhattan and one of the oldest in the US.
Diwali is celebrated by millions of people around the world, especially in India, where it is a national holiday. Apart from Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists also observe Diwali in different ways. In the US, Diwali has been recognized by several states, cities, and institutions, such as the White House, the Congress, and the United Nations.