Built with the purpose of spreading Hinduism in the foreign land and nurturing younger generation with devotion and servitude towards their culture, Vraj Temple in Eastern Pennsylvania, USA, hosts its sixth edition of Independence day show on Saturday, July 2.
Speaking to Republican Herald, Pramod Amin, one of the leaders associated with the temple said, "This is the Western Hemisphere shrine. We don't have a local congregation. People come for pilgrimage from all over the continent. So, tonight, out of the people visiting here, almost 85 percent are U.S. citizens. We consider it our duty because it is our Independence Day also because we are also Americans."
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Interestingly, Diwali is also celebrated in the temple with a similar fireworks show, symbolizing the unification of the two cultures.
Lord ShriNathji at Vraj Temple, Image Source: Allhindutemples.com
Reflecting on the celebrations of Diwali in India, Kiran Desai, the alderman at the temple, iterated, "In our religion and customs, fireworks are done during Diwali. That's the last day of the Hindu calendar year. It generally occurs in October. Back home, we do the fireworks during this festival of light."
Desai added, "But here, we adopted this country. So to celebrate our adopted homeland, the United States of America, we are celebrating the Independence Day of the U.S."
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Pyrotechnics are managed by a local in Ashland, for the temple intends to patronize local businesses.
Talking about the history of Independence Day celebrations at the temple, Rinkin Desai, manager at the temple explained to Republican Herald that they have had the fireworks show in 2002, 2003, 2009, 2014 and 2015.
While the footfall last year, in 2015, was overwhelming, the founder and the associated leaders expect more than 2,000 participants for the show this year.
The event last year was grand and also had fireworks that spelled out messages like 'Welcome to Vraj' and 'Jai Shree Krishna.'
Founded in 1988, Vraj temple is also known as Noontan Nadalaya and is dedicated to God ShriNathji (a manifestation of Krishna).
Spread across 265 acres of picturesque estate, the temple is a renowned centre of the Pushti Bhakti Marg philosophy in North America.
Vraj also hosts cultural and social events organized by Indian communities, usually financed through donations.
-prepared by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram.