Diyas Celebrate Diversity in The Bronx

Borough President Diaz recognizes the growing Hindu community


It was a festive occasion at the Vishnu Mandir, Hindu Temple as The Bronx Borough President hosted the inaugural Bronx Diwali Celebration in recognition of the growing Hindu population in the borough.

Over 150 members of the community from various boroughs gathered together to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights and joined in a program that included a welcome, prayers, lighting of diyas (little clay lamps), dancing, singing, poems and award presentations.

“This is the inaugural Bronx Diwali observance with my office and I am delighted to be here,” said Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President. “Just the other day we were lighting the Menorah as we celebrate Chanukah with our Jewish Community, now we are lighting Diyas with our Hindu Brothers and Sisters and soon we will be lighting up our Christmas Trees during the holiday season. This is the diversity of the borough.”

With The Bronx being home to over 1.4 million residents from all around the world, it is an annual occasion to have various festivals and observances on the yearly calendar. With over 2 million Hindus in the nation, there is a growing population right here in the borough of The Bronx and the Diwali event is to acknowledge the various observances and festivals of the community.

“I have lived in The Bronx and I have worked here most of my life after coming from Guyana,” said Detective Herawattie Jeeuth of the 41st Precinct. “This is an honor to be recognized for my service and I am proud to see so many people who came out to show support for our culture,” added Det. Jeeuth who has approximately 2000 arrests in her years with the NYPD. 

Diwali is celebrated in almost all the regions of India, the Caribbean and worldwide including, Guyana, Trinidad, Singapore, Africa and Australia. Lighting diyas shows respect for the culture but it is also to reflect on the past years and wish for good things in the New Year. While the Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists light diyas and celebrate Diwali during November many others are celebrating with family and friends via observances during the winter months. These festivities includes Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Los Posadas and Eid-al-Adha.

“Clearly, we live in a diverse borough and it is important to understand each culture or learn about them,” said Pandit Krishna Sukul, Priest in training. “We have grown up in this religion and as we practice daily, we not only continue our tradition but we take the time to expose and teach others in the community about who we are and what we do,” said Pandit Vyaas Sukul, Assistant Priest. “When there is understanding, we can live a better life with no problems and love for everyone,” added Pandit Vishnu Sukul, Officiating Priest and Leader at the Vishnu Mandir. All three Priests have dedicated their time to serving the borough and its Hindu residents in all religious needs.

“The Borough President is proud to host this Hindu celebration and he is looking forward to doing more for the growing community here in The Bronx in the future,” said Bharati S. Kemraj, a spokeswoman for Diaz’s office.

Honorees included:  

Dr. Viraj Patel of Albert Einstein College of Medicine whose current work focuses on developing technology based behavioral interventions (e.g. social media and mobile apps) to reach and engage these “hidden” communities as well as leveraging online social networks for promoting behavior change.  

Detective Herawattie Jeeuth of the 41st Precinct in The Bronx who has 20 years invested in the community and New York Police Department. She has approximately 2000 arrests in her years with the NYPD and has moved up in her line of work.

Melanie’s Roti & Grill Restaurant that specializes in Guyanese and West Indian cuisine, combining both modern and traditional styles of cooking. With over 6 years in the Castlehill area. They are giving back every chance they can with various community events.

Vishnu Mandir, Hindu Temple which was established in 1996 to serve the growing need of the Hindu Community. The first Caribbean temple to start the Holi festival in the borough and the only temple to have three weekly television program for the general community on Hinduism.


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