New Jersey residents of Hindu faith celebrate new year with Diwali holiday

Hindus in New Jersey celebrated the start of their New Year at the largest house of worship in the Western Hemisphere. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, which is based in Robbinsville, recently opened in Mercer County after 12 years of construction.
Monday was the fourth day of the five-day Diwali holiday as observed by Hindus. The holiday is also celebrated with various other traditions by Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.
Hindu observers paid their respects to deities surrounded by different food items, which are left as an offering.
“We start with annakut, which quite literally means ‘a mountain of food,’” explained volunteer Brinda Thakkar. “And this is our way of showing love with our family and also whom we believe to be God. This is also a way for us to show how thankful we are for what we’ve received.”
Devotees donated, helped prepare and set up the items of food the prior night, as thousands passed through to pray and show their gratitude.
“Truly when we think of the celebration, it is such a reflective time where we connect with friends, family, loved ones, to be able to think back on the spirit of it,” said Chaitali Inamdar, volunteer. “The light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and love over hate.”
It’s a universal message that many feel is still relevant today. It’s also one that followers hope to pass on for generations to come.
“When my husband, we were settling and putting roots down, one of our considerations was to find a home close to the Mandir,” said Shivangi Patel, Robbinsville. “So our son could grow up within the Mandir as well.”