L.A.-Area Hindus Celebrate the New Year

October 23, 2006

Author: Stuart Silverstein

Source: Los Angeles Times


Hinduism is thousands of years old and the world's third-largest religion, behind Christianity and Islam. Adherents who gathered at the temple Sunday represented some of Hinduism's thousands of sects, which generally consider the Veda to be their most sacred scripture and absolute authority.

The array of statues of deities in the temple "represent different manifestations of the same power," said Bal Sarad of Granada Hills, a vice president with the temple and the owner of a textile business. "Our message is 'Just believe in him, and it doesn't matter which shape or form you worship.' "

People in different regions of India celebrate the Diwali season in various ways, but the lighting of small earthenware oil lamps is widespread, symbolic of the victory of light over evil and ignorance.

The scene in Northridge was characteristic of Hindu practice. In the early afternoon, a leader chanted in Hindi and Sanskrit, and the congregants, many of them immigrants from India, at various points recited lines, clapped or chatted quietly with friends. The attendees, all barefoot or in stockings, were seated on the floor.