Chakra Announcements

Diwali, Festival of Lights

by Caru das

Posted November 6, 2004

WHAT: Festival of Lights
WHEN: Saturday November 13, 6 pm
CONTACTS: Caru & Vai (801)798-3559/787-1510
WHERE: Krishna Temple, 8628 S. State Rd., Spanish Fork, Utah 84660

The Krishna Temple at 8628 S State St. in Spanish Fork invites everyone to come celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, on Sat. Nov. 13 from 6 pm. The event will include classical and folk dancing, live music, dramas, a ceremony of lights, huge vegetarian feast, and offering of respects to a live cow.

Diwali is a shortened version of "Deepawali" (Deepa=lamps, Wali=row: rows of lamps). Households in India put lamps in every window and temples brightly illuminate altars to bring in the best for the upcoming year. The date of the festival coincides with the return of the avatar of God, Sri Rama, to His ancestral kingdom after an exile of 14 years and many adventures. All the citizens welcomed Rama home by brightening up the entire city of Ayodhya and setting off fireworks.

The Festival of Lights occurs during the lull between fall harvests and the onset of the monsoons. Thus it is a time of thanksgiving, and that corollary festival is called Anna Kuta (literally meaning, "heaps of food") Lord Krishna inaugurated this festival by inspiring the inhabitants of His village (Vrndavan) to worship the cows on this one day per year and to prepare a huge celebratory feast consisting of no less than 108 preparations.

Observing the above traditions, the schedule of events for this dual celebration is as follows:

6:00 pm: Film on the Big Screen: World of Hare Krishna

6:30 pm: Govardhan puja: Krishna once lifted a mountain named Govardhan and used it as an umbrella to protect His devotees from a devastating rainfall sent by Indra the king of heaven. This pastime is commemorated by circumambulating a large hill made from a sweet called hallava, and decorated with other sweets, savories, plastic cows, jelly bean rocks, broccoli spear trees, green coconut grass etc.

6:45 pm Comedy: "Hell" In spite of its title, this is a funny play.

7:00 pm Classical Indian dance performance (Bharat Natyam & Kathak) by Sutopa Barua, premier student and assistant teacher of Asha Gopalšs Arathi School of Dance in Phoenix, Arizona *(See bio below)

7:30 pm Drama: Another comedy appropriate to the Halloween season called "Dracula Gets A Gita."

7:45 pm: Anna Kuta & Arotik ceremony: Lights in the temple room are turned down and the altar area is opened dramatically to the sounds of conch shells being blown and gongs sounding, to reveal a food extravaganza of many preparations offered to the Deities. The whole show is illuminated by flashing colored lights and dozens of votive candles.

8:00 pm.. Worship of a live cow with flower garlands and sweets. Indian culture is that instead of killing the cows for 700 lb.. of their meat, they are respected for producing an average of 90,000 lb.. of nutritional wholesome milk in a lifetime. And because we all drink the milk of a cow in our infancy, the cow is regarded as a sort of mother.

8:15 pm: Ras Garba, Indian Folk Dancing (very easy for anybody to learn in minutes)

Throughout the evening: Huge vegetarian feast served downstairs while program goes on upstairs. $ 5.00 donation per plate. Samosa, pakora, rasgula, saag paneer, puri, sandesh, hallava, papadam, kher, matar paneer, alou gobi sabji, kofta, malpura, gulabjamun, and on and on. Bring a preparation if you can to augment the feast!

* Sutopa Barua has been learning Bharata Natyam since the age of 5 under the tutelage of Kalashri Asha Gopal, the founder and director of Arathi School of India Dances. She is continuing her pursuit of knowledge in Indian classical dance through various Kathak, Odissi, and Folk Dance workshops presented by visiting artists from India and Bangladesh. Her performances have taken her across the United States, Japan, and Canada. Some of Sutopašs notable performances include the Omachi Festival 1993 (Japan), Forum of Bangladeshi Associations of North America 1998 (California), North America Bengali Conference 2003 (California), Festival of India 2003 (Utah), Bengali Literature Conference 2004 (Arizona), and the Spring Festival 2004 (Toronto). As a multicultural presenter, she also uses her dance experience to raise cultural awareness among youth in Arizona. Currently, she is an assistant dance instructor at the Arathi School of India Dances.

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Best wishes,
Caru das and Vaibhavi