Although Diwali began Thursday, the Krishna Yoga Center, 965 E. 3370 South, invites Utah’s families to join in 6:30-8 p.m. Saturday for dancing, chanting, hanging lights, fireworks, a drama and “mountains” of food.
Diwali is traditionally a Hindu holiday, but Jains and Sikhs also observe the event. For Jains, it is a time to remember their modern founder, Mahavir Tirthankar, who they say achieved nirvana during Diwali, according to the Utah Krishnas website.
Sikhs look back to the release of Sikh Guru Hargobind and 52 kings in 1619 from captivity under Mughal Emperor Jahengir.
Hindus commemorate the return of Sri Rama, who they believe is an incarnation of God, to his home town Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and after killing Ravana, a demon king.
According to tradition, people in the villages hung more lights than had ever before been seen. Similarly, families in India will often place lamps in their homes during Diwali, in addition to cleaning their homes and placing flowers inside.
Diwali is short for Deepawali, or row of lamps, which represents the lamps placed in windows in India and brightly lit altars to bring in a good year, according to the Utah Krishnas website.
Part of Saturday’s celebration will include a Govardhan Puja, which for some means a mountain of food at $6 a plate. For Hindus, however, the mountain of food signifies something more significant. It is a symbol of Lord Krishna’s victory over Indra, according to Subhkrt Das, a preacher at the Krishna Yoga Center. Before this victory, people would offer sacrifices to Lord Indra, god of rains, so they could have rain for their crops, he said.
Krishna told the people to stop worshipping Indra, a demi-god, and instead worship Govardhan Hill, a manifestation of Krishna. He then lifted the Govardhan Mountain on the tip of his finger to protect people from Indra’s anger.
The Govardhan Puja is a mountain of food created as an offering to Krishna, which will be given to those gathered after a Kirtan, or a traditional Hindu chant.
Saturday’s events will begin with a presentation on Diwali and Govardhan Puja by Charu Das, temple manager at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, at 6 p.m. That will be followed by a drama, a Kirtan and the Gorvardhan Puja.
Dancing will begin at 7:15 p.m., and lamp and Aarti lighting will follow at 8 p.m. A firework display will wrap up the events at 8:15 p.m.
For more information, visit utahkrishnas.org/diwali-festival-of-lights.