It was a festive evening on Saturday, October 17, 2009 as enlivening celebrations for Diwali took place at Toronto's Hare Krishna temple. While many people traditionally spend Diwali at home with family and friends, a packed temple was proof that spending time with spiritual family was equally important for many, during this special time of year.
Toronto's Hare Krishna Temple
Toronto's Hare Krishna Centre (ISKCON Toronto), has always been the hub of a rich, vibrant and enthusiastic community. Whether it be grand festivals, programs at local universities and yoga studios, philosophical discussions, cooking sessions, or singing and dancing on the streets, there are events taking place for everyone's interest.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
1:28:00 PM By Kevala-Bhakti Dasa (Keshav) bhajan, darshan, deities, festival, kirtan, pictures, program, temple 2 comments
The story of Diwali stems back to ancient times when inhabitants of Ayodhya celebrated the return of Lord Ramachandra. Lord Rama was in exile, away from His kingdom, for many years. The joyful day on which He finally returned is observed as Diwali.
The evening celebrations began with the traditional 6pm arati and led into the singing of the Damodarastakam prayers, which have been sung during every program at the temple during this auspicious time of the year, Kartik. As a special treat, in "light" of the evening celebrating Diwali, everyone in attendance had the opportunity to approach the altars in the temple room and offer small lamps (candles) to the Deities.
With the mood set just right, it was then time to dive deeper into the spiritual meaning of Diwali. This is a special time of year for spiritualists and, in particular, devotees of Krishna and Rama. Much like Christmas, Diwali has seen a tremendous increase in it’s commercialist elements and so the class, given by Dvija Gauranga das, helped those in attendance appreciate the spiritual basis of this wonderful festival.
As the class winded down, there was a collective mantra meditation session, followed by a very special treat! Entitled, "Welcoming Lord Rama Back to Ayodhya", the next part of the program began with a small shadow-skit of the story of Lord Rama. As the skit winded down and the story concluded, narrating how Lord Rama and Sita returned to Ayodhya, a flower chariot appeared over the balcony and began to float across the temple room, accompanied by enrapturing kirtan!
After the small flower chariot made it's way across, it was then lowered onto a small altar (Lord Rama, thus arriving in Ayodhya) and small children from the community greeted Rama and Sita with sparklers!
The evening concluded with what the Hare Krishnas are best known for: kirtan! The 8pm arati had everyone dancing and the packed crowd certainly felt the spiritual mood of Diwali resonating within their hearts. As usual, a wonderful vegetarian feast was served at the end of the program and so, with full stomachs, hearts and souls, Diwali celebrations "lit up" the night!
View the festival slideshow below or click here for picture gallery (photos courtesy of Rishi Kumar):