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Fremont Hindus Celebrate Diwali

6 November 2008 No Comment

By Mateen Kaul

People dressed in traditional Indian clothes celebrated Diwali with food, music and prayers at Fremont’s Hindu Temple on Saturday night, October 25.

Around 3,000 people flocked to the temple for the major Hindu holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights, said Ajay Bhutoria, chairman of the youth committee at the temple, who had come to celebrate the event with his family. “It symbolizes the start of the Hindu new year,” he said.

During the festival, people decorate their houses with earthen lamps to signify the victory of good over evil, said Fremont resident Sunita Gagar. She had come to the temple, located on Delaware Drive, with her husband Raj to celebrate and watch their three children do a traditional Indian dance performance.

The festival also gives Indian immigrants a taste of home. "When you come to the temple you see all these people dressed up and the lights and you think, 'Yes, it's really Diwali,'" said Gagar.

Children did 20 dance performances to Indian music at a school auditorium next to the temple, said Nirmal Agrawal, a temple official in charge of the show.

Meanwhile, people enjoyed a free vegetarian dinner of traditional Indian dishes in indoor and outdoor dining areas. The meal was sponsored by Kohinoor, an Indian foodstuff company hoping to expand in the United States, said Nilesh Dalal, the company's regional manager for the West Coast.

The temple, officially called the Vedic Dharma Samaj, actually houses two places of worship, one for South Indian and one for North Indian Hindus. Long queues of people lined up outside each to pay their respect to their deities.

On a stage inside, musicians played devotional Hindu music to an appreciative audience. Berkeley resident Jerry Barr played tabla, an Indian percussion instrument,to accompany Indian classical singer Roopa Shastry during one performance.

Barr, who formally became a Hindu last year, said the music led to him adopting the religion. "The essence of the music is devotional. The more I got into it the more I wanted to learn about Hinduism," he said.

Diwali officially fell on Tuesday, October 28 this year, but the temple arranged its major activities for Saturday so more people could attend.

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