Diwali Celebrations

Bal Vihar of St. Louis, MO celebrates its 21st Diwali with Pomp on Nov. 10, 2013

 “TAMASO MA JYOTIRGAMAYA” – From darkness unto light. What better time than the auspicious occasion of Deepavali (or Diwali as it is commonly known) to remember this thought? Diwali is a perfect reflection of this statement when the darkness of the night turns into brightly lit houses across the globe.

 Over the years the message and spirit of Diwali has spread across the globe andUnited Statesis no longer the place unaware of this mega festival. This year for the first timeUnited Statescongress celebrated its first Diwali at the Capitol Hill. Like every year President Obama released a statement wishing the community on this occasion. This year First Lady Michelle Obama also hosted a Diwali event at White House that included a Bollywood Dance Clinic.

 Diwali reinforces the message that good will always prevail over evil. Diwali also reminds us that the power lies with us to get rid of darkness by lighting the lamps of high spirits and noble thoughts. Be it Lord Rama’s conquer over demon king Ravana or Lord Krishna kills demon Narakasura or marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu, the message and symbolism remains the same.

 Bal Vihar ofSt. Louishas a tradition of 21 years to make the most of this festival. If there is one event that the students and parents always look forward to, it is Diwali. This year Bal Vihar has grown in strength and that meant being more prepared. The volunteers led from the front with countless hours of efforts to get ready for the event. With 750 expected attendees, it was no small feat. Like previous years, Bal Vihar students did a Diya project ahead of Diwali that raised funds for charitable institutes in US andIndia.  Students prepared clay Diyas (lamp holder) during this project.

 Bal Vihar celebrated its Diwali on November 10th at Mahatma Gandhi Center (MGC) with record 700 attendees. After capturing the moment and spirit of the students and staff alike in pictures, the day began with all the students and teachers heading to The Hindu Temple of St. Louis. The priests led the prayers and students participate with great devotion. Food is one of the major part of most festivals and Bal Vihar was not going to be left behind. While the prayers were in full swing, a group of about 40 volunteers were busy packing boxed dinner for all present. Another group of volunteers were preparing for the fire crackers distribution.

After the puja was over, students came back to MGC. After the dinner everyone went outside for one of the most exciting part of the evening – the fireworks. Soon, the place was lit with sparkles and the joy was in the air. Volunteer team did a phenomenal job of making sure safety was the first priority.

 The happiness and joy was very visible as everyone enjoyed the evening and mother natured helped with a great weather. When the day was over, you could see some young students asking their parents when they will get to do that next.

 Center for Indian Cultural Education – Bal Vihar of St. Louis is a non-profit organization. Since its inception in 1992 it has been serving the Metro St. Louis Indian community. The primary focus of this organization is to provide Indian cultural education to students age 5-18, its application and integration with the global multicultural and multifaceted society. Over last 20+ years Bal Vihar has helped groom a breed of multi-cultural global leaders of next generation that have been shaped by the best of the cultures from east and west. These youngsters understand the need and value of the cultural values that have been instilled in them through the rigorous program. Students are also taught discipline, tolerance and devotion in their daily routine. The ultimate goal is "to throw the light of cultural knowledge on every child, to make every child an outstanding citizen and to spread the song of peace and harmony around the world." Details may be obtained from www.balvihar-stlouis.com.

Ray Iyer for Bal Vihar of St. Louis, MO