Please Donate To The Campaign
NYC Hindu Coalition
Project Managed By:
Vincent Bruno, Vijay Kumar, Avijit Roy, Pinaki Das,
Abhishek Bhaskar & Sivaramakrishnan Nagarajan
(Hindus Students Association International)
(Bangladeshi Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council);
(Justice For Hindus)
NYC Hindu Holidays Campaign
2nd Meeting With Community Affairs
17 Aug 2017 – NYC Hindus had a second meeting with the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, assisted by Mr. Marco A. Carrion and Nick Gulotta. The group discussed possible ways to improve Hindu community involvement in the City’s education departments. The group also plans to organize along county and district lines so as to streamline their ability to communicate with local city law makers and administrators.
Hindu Holidays Outside White House
11 Dec 2016 – Close to 100 Hindus gathered outside the White House to request that the federal administration take measures to further include the American Hindu presence in school and civic activities, such as consulting the community on Diwali and Holi education.
Hindu Holidays At NYC Comptroller
2 Nov 2016 – NYC Hindus bring the Hindu Holidays Campaign to Comptroller Scott Stringer’s Diwali party at City Hall. We spoke with both the Comptroller and Assembly woman Neeta Jain.
Hindu Holidays At NYC Hindu Unity Day
Sunday 08/30/15 (Queens, New York) Hindu Unity Day was put on by the Indian American Intellectuals Forum (IAIF). IAIF is one of the groups supporting the Hindu Holidays Campaign. At the event a table was set up for the Hindu Holidays Campaign and hundreds of signatures were collected.
WHAT IS DIWALI
Celebration of Lakshmi
Diwali is a 5 night festival which takes place in mid to late autumn, beginning on the last night of the Hindu month of Ashvin and goes on into the Hindu month of Kartika. The highest point of the celebration takes place on the third day which commemorates the birth of goddess Lakshmi, the personification of spiritual, familial and material wealth and success. Hindus also venerate the Hindu god of medicine Dhanvantari on this day since he was born at the same time as Lakshmi. Lakshmi and Dhanvantari’s birth story are found in the Puranas which are anthologies on the backgrounds and histories of the gods, sages and heroes of Hinduism. According to the Agni and Padma Puranas, there was a war in heaven between the demons and the gods and the gods lost this war. The god Vishnu came up with a plan to trick the demons into churning the ocean which would bring up the amrita, a powerful drink which the gods could use to regain their strength and defeat the demons. As the gods and the demons churned the ocean, the amritra was not the only thing to float up from the ocean’s depths; many gods arose from the waters and took the side of the gods against the demons. One of these gods to arise from the ocean was the goddess Lakshmi, who fell in love with and married Vishnu. With the help of the gods who arose from the ocean and the amritra, the gods were able to defeat the demons and regain heaven. Lakshmi’s birth took place at a time when good overcame evil, when light overtook dark, and so the entirety of Diwali is a celebration of the triumph of righteousness and goodness over unrighteousness and wickedness.
The Story Of Ram & Sita In Diwali
To symbolize the victory of light, the festival of Diwali is marked by the lighting of large numbers of diyas (oil lamps) and firework displays. Tales of the triumphs of many Hindu heroes are recounted and celebrated during this time, but the most popular hero theme for Diwali is the story of Ram and his defeat of the wicked king Ravana. Ram was a prince and the 8th avatar (human personification) of the god Vishnu, the lord of preservation who saves humanity from moral and social decay. The story of Ram and his journeys along with his wife Sita are found in the Hindu Epic of the Ramayana. In the Ramayana, Hindus find the virtues of Ram and Sita pitted against the ignobilities of those who rule the world at that time. The story has Ram and Sita exiled to the forest and Sita kidnapped by the dubious king Ravana. As Ram struggles to save his love Sita, he builds an army by gaining the trust of several tribes and races, and finally vanquishes king Ravana and is reunited with Sita. Now a warrior and king in his own right, Ram returns to the kingdom of his exile and regains the thrown, ushering in a golden age of peace and prosperity. According to the Padma Purana, Ram’s return to his kingdom of Ayhodya was celebrate by the mass lighting of diyas, as is done at Diwali, thus the return of Ram to his kingdom and the holiday of Diwali are often viewed as synonymous by many Hindus. Anyone interested in learning more about the story of Ram may want to purchase a copy of the Ramayana by C. Rajagopalachari.
SCRIPTURAL REFERENCE TO DIWALI
The Manifestation Of Goddess Lakshmi
Bhisma expressed his desire to know about the manifestation of goddess Lakshmi.Pulastya replied Once, after being defeated by the demons, the deities went to Lord Vishnu and sought his help. Lord Vishnu instructed them to collect all the medicinal herbs, and put them in the Ksheersagar, so that after the churning of the ocean ambrosia could be retrieved.Lord Vishnu also advised them to use the Mandar mountain as a Churner and the serpent Sheshnag as a rope for churning the ocean.The deities then reached an agreement with the demons according to which both the groups were supposed to unitedly churn the ocean. The great Mandar mountain was uprooted and placed on the back of the tortoise the embodiment of Lord Vishnu. Sheshnag coiled around that mountain and both the ends were held by the demons and the deities respectively. The deities intelligently chose the tail-end, while the demons in their foolishness chose the mouth-end. The venom spilled by Sheshnag destroyed the power and strength off the demons. When the process of Churning began, the first thing to emerge from the sea-bed was Kamdhenu the holy cow. The deities claimed the ownership of this divine cow. Subsequently, Varuni (intoxicating drink) emerged from the sea-bed, which was claimed by the ignorant demons. During the process of ocean-churning, various kinds of things emerged out from the ocean Parijat, sixty crore apsaras, the moon and Kalkut (poison), which were distributed among the demons and the deities. Lord Mahadeva drank the Kalkut when he saw that there was no taker for it.
The churning of ocean also resulted into the manifestation of ambrosia-pot, Uchchaishrava (horse) and Airavat (elephant). Ultimately, goddess Lakshmi manifested herself, seated on a lotus. The deities eulogised her by chanting the mantras of Sri Sukta. The deities were desirous of having goddess Lakshmi on their side, so were the demons, but Lord Brahma instructed Vishnu to accept her as his consort. The demons became furious and snatched the ambrosia-pot from the hands of Sage Dhanvantari. Lord Vishnu then disguised himself as the most enchanting woman and fooled the demons into giving back the ambrosia-pot. Lord Vishnu gave the pot to the deities who became immortal after drinking ambrosia. A tremendous battle was fought between the demons and the deities. But, the demons were defeated in this battle and fled to the netherworld to protect their lives. The deities eulogised Lord Vishnu and returned to heaven.
Many years ago there was a war between the devas (gods) and the daityas (demons) and the gods lost this war. They prayed to Vishnu to rescue them from the oppression of the demons. Vishnu told Brahma and the other gods that they should have a temporary truce with the demons. The two sides should get together to churn the ocean. Vishnu would ensure that the devas benefited more from this churning of the ocean than the daityas did.The truce was agreed upon and the two sides got ready to churn the ocean. The mountain Mandara was used as a churning rod and great sake Vasuki as the rope for churning. The devas grasped Vasuki’s tail and the daityas grasped Vasuki’s head. But as the churning began, the mountain Mandara which had no base, started to get immersed in the ocean. What was to be done Lord Vishnu came to the rescue. He adopted the form of a turtle and the peak was balanced on the turtle’s back.As the churning continued, terrible poison named kalkuta emerged from the depths of the ocean and was swallowed by Shiva. Shiva’s throat became blue from this poison and he is therefore known as Nilakantha, blue of throat. The goddess Varunai, the goddess of wine (sura), came out next. The gods readily accepted her and thus they came to be known as suras. But the demons rejected Varunai and were therefore known as asuras. She was followed by the Parijata tree, a beautiful tree that came to occupy the pride of place in Indras garden. A jewel named koustubha emerged and was accepted by Vishnu as his adornment. Three wonderful animals came out next the cow Kapila, the horse Ucchaishrava and the elephant Airavata. They were followed by the apsaras, beautiful women who became the dancers of heaven. They were known as apsaras because they emerged from ap (water). The goddess Lakshmi or Sri came out next and was united with Vishnu.Finally, Dhanvantari emerged with a pot of amrita (the life giving drink) in his hands. Dhanvantari was the originator of medicine (ayurveda). The daityas led by Jambha gave half of the amrita to the devas and departed with the remaining half.
But Vishnu quickly adopted the form of a beautiful woman. So beautiful was the woman that the demons were charmed. Pretty lady, they said. Take the amrita and serve it to us. Marry us.
Vishnu accepted the amrita, but he had no intention of giving it to the demons. He served it to the gods instead. There was only one demon who was somewhat clever. His name was Rahu. He adopted the form of Chandra, the moon-god, and succeeded in drinking some of the amrita. The sun-god and the moon-god noticed what was happening and reported it to Vishnu. Vishnu thereupon cut off Rahu’s head with a sword.
But Rahu had drunk the amrita, so he could not die. He prayed to Vishnu and Vishnu granted him a boon. The boon was that occasionally Rahu would be permitted to swallow up the sun and the complained about him. You can see this happening at the time of the solar and the lunar eclipses. People who give alms during such eclipses are blessed.
The gods obtained the amrita and the demons did not. Thus, the gods became more powerful than the demons. They defeated the demons and regained heaven.
Sri Rama’s Return From Lanka
Once, Sages requested Suta to describe about Sri Rama’s return from Lanka. Suta narrated the same tale, which Sheshnag had once told Vatsyayan. Sheshnag said After the killing of demon king Ravana, Sri Rama appointed Vibhishan as the king of Lanka. He then decided to return to Ayodhya on Pushpak-Vimana, which Vibhishan had presented to him. He along with Sita, Lakshman, Sugreev and Hanuman boarded the aircraft and flew towards Ayodhya.The earth looked beautiful from such a high altitude and Sri Rama was continuously describing about the importance of various places over which the aircraft flew. As the aircraft was about to enter the airspace of Ayodhya, Sri Rama recognized Bharata, who was living at Nandigram at that time. Bharata had vowed not to enter Ayodhya till the return of Sri Rama, hence he stayed at Nandigram situated at the outskirts of Ayodhya awaiting Sri Rama’s return. He led an austere life as the result of which he had become weak and feeble.
On seeing Bharata, Sri Rama instructed Hanuman to inform him about his (Rama’s) arrival. Hanuman went to the hermitage of Bharata and informed him about Sri Rama’s arrival. Bharata’s joy knew no bound and he expressed his desire to reward Hanuman for bringing such auspicious news. Bharata then accompanied Hanuman and went to meet Sri Rama. Sri Rama’s heart was filled with grief when he saw Bharata, who looked like a hermit in his Valkal and Kaupin. On the other hand Bharata cursed himself for being the cause of Sri Rama’s miseries. Bharata asked for Sri Rama’s forgiveness and said O Lord! You had to go into exile only because of me. I can never be absolved of my sin.
Sri Rama consoled him and after taking Bharata into his embrace enquired about his welfare. He told Bharata that he had to undergo the sufferings of exile because of his own destiny. You are not at fault. Don’t curse yourself for my misery. said Sri Rama. At last all of them including Bharata boarded Pushpak Vimana and the aircraft took- off for Ayodhya.Continuing with Sri Rama’s tale, Sheshnag said When Sumanth brought the news of Sri Rama’s arrival at Ayodhya, people danced in joy, Preparations started being made for Sri Rama’s grand reception. The whole city of Ayodhya was decorated with rows of lighted lamps.
Sri Rama and Sita alighted from the Pushpak Vimana and both of them were carried in a palanquin to the palace. People stood in queues on both sides of the road with folded hands. Sri Rama blessed them by raising his hand. First of all Rama went to meet Kaikayi who was full of remorse and guilt. Sri Rama consoled her and then went to meet Sumitra to pay his obeisance to her. At last, he went to meet his own mother Kaushalya, who was dying to see him. Kaushalya blessed Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshman. Bharata then instructed the royal astrologers to decide upon an auspicious moment for Sri Rama’s coronation. Thus Sri Rama became the king of Ayodhya. During his reign peace and prosperity prevailed everywhere. People were virtuous and there was no sign of sin.