On Sunday, December 3rd, the Hindu American Foundation participated with SewaDiwali of Greater Sacramento County for a joint celebration honoring the achievements of the Hindu American community and the festival of Diwali.
Held at the newly-renovated Jain Temple of Greater Sacramento, the joint ceremony was a blend of art and knowledge, of youth and adults, of giving back and joyous celebration of an ancient culture and faith.
Following an opening with sacred lamp lighting, SewaDiwali volunteers shared the history of their nationwide food donation drives, noting that in the Sacramento area alone, 9500 pounds of food, along with multiple bags of winter clothing were distributed in the community. Among the groups receiving donations were: Fourth & Hope, Yuba-Sutter Food Bank, Hands of Hope, Rancho Cordova Food Locker, Sacramento Loaves & Fishes, and Sacramento Kindness Campaign.
Adding to food donation efforts this Diwali season, HAF National Program Director Easan Katir partnered with Chinmaya Mission to donate some 250 pounds of food in Woodlands.
In addition to recognition of food donation efforts, the broader contributions of the Hindu American community were recognized by Sacramento City Council member Lisa Kaplan and Rocklin City Council member Jill Gayaldo, who presented HAF California Regional Director Sangeetha Shankar with Hindu American Awareness and Appreciation Month and Diwali proclamations. Other elected officials present were Senator Angelique Ashby with her staff member and FCUSD board member Christopher Clark. Both acknowledged and appreciated the diversity and significance of the Hindu American communities.
On the significance of the event Sangeetha Shankar stated:
“I was honored to receive the HAAAM and Diwali proclamations from Sacramento and Rocklin city councils and to participate in the closing ceremony of SewaDiwali. Both showcase the contributions and diversity brought in by our Sacramento wide Hindu American communities while also highlighting the need to address raising Hinduphobia.”
Closing the ceremony, attendees participated in Diwali-themed activities, making rangolis and lighting diyas, as well as Diwali coloring pages for children. The activities were a wonderful learning experience for everyone including the officials who had many questions about the significance of the holiday, of lighting of the lamps, about sacred Hindu symbols like the lotus and toran or decorated hangings.