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Diwali Lights Community Building in America and Around the World

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Diwali signifies the joyous victory of good over evil and Utsavseva (Festivals of Service) promotes selfless service. Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC) is leading a national effort to invoke these values to honor the 10th anniversary of 9/11 on November 6th, 2011.

Diwali is an American tradition.

Deepavali is celebrated with rows (avali) of lights (deepa) to welcome Lord Rama and Sita returning from exile. It exemplifies the struggle between good and evil and that ultimately victory is of good and it needs to be celebrated. Dr. Kumud Sane, Chairperson, Hindu Temple of Minnesota affirmed, "These joyous occasions remind us, and future generations, that it is only through the selfless service of those who sacrifice that the victory is attained.

The foundation of Indian civilization is the pluralistic acceptance embodied in the ancient Vedic scriptures; the perennial Vedic thought: Ekam Sat, Vipraha Bahuda Vadanti (The Truth is One, the Realized Ones (rishis) describe the One Truth in several ways." Acceptance of this Truth gives people a way to express their differences while finding a common ground.

And, Diwali shares a special connection with American values as ratified recently by the Senate. Diwali not only exemplifies the ideals of "E Pluribus Unum"-- out of many, one, Diwali Illuminates Global Pluralism, and is destined to be a global celebratory tradition.

Diwali and UstavSeva (Festival of Service) play an important role in Community Building.

"Diwali is a time for celebration, but it is also a time for reflection -- a time when we must remember that there are always others less fortunate than ourselves. This holiday reminds us all that we should commit ourselves to helping those in need. For many, this is also a time to gather with family and to pray." President Obama, November 2010.

In the spirit of service and remembrance as well as nation-building, in New York, HASC has partnered with Hindu Temple Society of North America (Ganesh Temple) to organize a historic event to light 3000 candles to honor the selfless service of those impacted by 9/11 and celebrate the victory. The public event will be held at Castle Clinton (Battery Park), 17 Battery Place New York, NY 10005 on Sunday November 6th, 2011 at 4:00pm.

Dr. Uma Mysorekar, President of the Ganesh Temple observed, "This historic event re-affirms that good is always victorious -- the intrinsic theme of Diwali -- and needs to be celebrated." As we at HASC see it, today more than ever, the world needs to be reminded of this Truth.

HASC has requested all who attend to help replenish food banks in New York by bringing non-perishable canned/packaged food items (Anna Daanam) in large quantities as DhanaSeva on Diwali. UtsavSeva which invokes the spiritual values of the festivals with Community Service throughout the year, is a unique program developed by Hindu American Seva Charities.

Similarly, HASC is working with many temples, ashrams and spiritual centers in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Texas, California, Minneapolis, Kansas and other states across the country to expand and organize food drives to replenish local food banks, honor those who serve and augment community service / nation building on November 6th at 4:00 p.m. We ask all, in America and abroad, to unite with the New York remembrance to light candles and offer prayers of peace.

HASC welcomes participation from people of all faiths and traditions across America. We suggest communities come forward, unite and celebrate the spirit of Diwali in honor of 9/11's 10th anniversary by lighting candles / light in their neighborhoods on Nov. 6th at 4:00 p.m. HASC will provide customizable flyers for the partner organizations.

The UtsavSeva movement of community and nation building through festivals is now global.

In India, to spread universal brotherhood, inspiration, spiritual enhancement, Samarth, a trust, has organized a unity movement, where eternal (Akhand) lamps from various Gurus and spiritual centers will culminate into one single lamp called the Bharat Jyoti on Diwali day.

Inspired by HASC, Samarth expanded Bharat Jyoti movement and initiated its own Utsav Seva with enhanced seva activities. The Utsav Seva, a lamp is traveling all over India to promote the spirit of celebration with remembrance of 'Bharat Putras.' HASC and Samarth pay homage to those who have served their countries and to memorials of global significance such as 9/11's 10th anniversary.

Metaphysically, at its core, Diwali is the celebration of the awakening and awareness of the Inner Light. This Inner Light, though not seen outside, outshines all darkness by removing all obstacles and dispelling all ignorance. When this inner realization blossoms then there is universal compassion, love and the awareness of the oneness of all things. The UtsavSeva movement, helping our fellow human beings, while we celebrate our traditions and strengthen our spirituality can, with an inside-out approach, build one at a time, neighborhoods, communities, cities, nations, the world and our own selves.

HASC invites everyone around the globe to unite, organize and participate in invoking the message of Diwali and extend it to November 6th. Starting with Diwali, we urge all to serve regularly this holiday season by replenishing food banks, honoring our service men and women. Our seva will strengthen our communities and our nation.

The entire HASC family wishes everyone a Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New Year.

Loka samastha sukhi nau bhavantu -- May the Lord bless the whole world with happiness, goodwill and eternal peace.

Om Shanti, shanti, shanti. May there be peace, peace and only peace.

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