Temple lit but festival celebrated at home

Although no crowds gathered at the Chino Hills Hindu Temple for this year’s New Year’s celebration, the spirit of Diwali shone brightly.

No gatherings took place at the Chino Hills Hindu Temple during the Festival of Lights ceremony, but the temple shone brightly to signify the celebration of the new year.

The BAPS Hindu Temple on Fairfield Ranch Road began the New Year’s celebration called Diwali on Nov. 12 that lasted until Monday.

“In light of the pandemic, we celebrated the five days of Diwali this year at home, through livestream broadcasts so that families could celebrate safely,” said Ronak Patel of Chino, a Temple volunteer.

He said the temple is not open to congregation members or visitors for worship services or activities.

Members who wish to offer a brief prayer inside the Temple may reserve a time slot on an online reservation system for approximately five minutes to pray safely without intermingling with another family, Mr. Patel said.

“As you can imagine, it has been difficult for our congregation, as we typically spend Diwali together in worship and service activities,” he said.

Typically, the temple campus is filled with families, some dressed in resplendent clothing, who walk up the wide stairs to view the “grand annakut” where more than 1,000 delicacies are set out and offered to the sacred images inside the temple.

They also partake in an ancient Hindu offering by waving lighted wicks before the sacred images to the accompaniment of a musical prayer, called “Aarti.” 

This year there was no lighting of traditional oil lamps or the children’s festival with rides, games, and Indian street food.

Families however thanked God for their blessings, focused on forgiving, and made resolutions to seek peace and unity in all aspects of their lives, Mr. Patel said.

Volunteers spent much of the year working closely with hospitals, local government, and other organizations to contribute personal protective equipment, food, supplies, and monetary donations for COVID-19 relief efforts.


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