Diwali celebrations get underway across New Jersey

Celebrations for Diwali began Sunday all across the Garden State.
The holiday which is traditionally marked by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, recognizes the triumph of light over darkness.
At Sikh Sabha Gurdwara in Lawrenceville, candles illuminated the faces of devotees as an enlightening Sikh prayer rang out from the house of worship for reflection.
“The world is in a very dark time,” said Japkeerat Singh. “So all we can hope for is for everyone to find peace, light and truth.”
As billions around the world once again celebrate Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas, this year feels a little different for some.
“These days, I always try to think of what the Guru Sahab did for us, what he gave up for those at the time,” Rusna Kaur said.
Sikhs mark the holiday by reflecting on the actions of the sixth Guru, or spiritual teacher, of putting others first. In the 1600s, he was told he could be released when wrongly imprisoned. However, he decided he only wanted to do so if he could take 52 jailed princes who were also wrongly jailed with him.
“The ultimatum he was given was whoever could hold on to your Chola, or commonly known as a robe or cape, can leave with you,“ explained Upneet Kaur, education manager of The Sikh Coalition.
The Emperor at the time said only those who could hold on to Guru Hargobind could be freed as well. So an elaborate cape with 52 tassels was created and they all were freed by holding on.
“You reflect on how much joy there is in life and what the Gurus gave us,” Amar Sethi said. “And how much they sacrificed for all of us to this day.”
Jains celebrate Diwali by commemorating the liberation of their spiritual teacher, Mahavra. They fast during this time and also decorate their houses of worship with lights and lamps.
During this time of year, Hindus mark the return of Prince Rama, the celebration at the largest Hindu Mandir in the U.S., which is based right here in New Jersey.