Bhavin Desai of Levittown, Rekha Panda of Hicksville, and Jayshree...

Bhavin Desai of Levittown, Rekha Panda of Hicksville, and Jayshree Vabsola of Commack pray as they celebrate Diwali, the Indian new year and the festival of light, at the BAPS Temple in Melville. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, celebrates the victory of light over darkness. On Long Island and around the world, the celebration starts with prayer and the lighting of diya (an oil lamp) in homes and  places of worship.

The celebration beginning  Nov. 12 continues the following day with the Hindu New Year and the bringing of traditional food to places of worship adding to Annakut, a large food offering to God creating a “food mountain,” explains Dharmesh Sutariya, community outreach spokesperson for the Hindu organization BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in Melville.  “Diwali is open to all faiths, and everyone is welcome to partake in the festivities. Along with the food, the celebration includes music, general assembly, prayer and tastings of hundreds of varieties of vegetarian recipes," says Sutariya.

The celebration begins with festivals, prayer services and family fun for all ages. Here are ways to observe the holiday:

DIWALI AND BANDI CHHOR DIVAS NIGHT IN GARDEN CITY

Adelphi University in Garden City is hosting an event incorporating food, art, traditions and giveaways, 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 3 at its university center. “Our event is a cultural experience that features a diya decorating contest and rangoli art on display," says Michelle Sarker, 21, a senior who is president of the school's South Asian Student Association. The event highlights both Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas, a Sikh tradition on Nov. 12. "The purpose is to bring people together, joining the two holidays and cultures," she says. Admission is $15, cultural attire is encouraged; 1 South Ave., Garden City, myaulife.adelphi.edu, 800-233-5744.

DIWALI BAZAAR IN UNIONDALE

The shopping festival showcases the latest collection of Indian and Pakistani clothes and jewelry for sale, noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Long Island Marriott. Free; 101 James Doolittle Blvd., Uniondale, allevents.in

ANNUAL DIWALI CELEBRATION IN GARDEN CITY 

The celebration includes a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m., followed by a ceremony at 7:30 p.m. with live entertainment and dinner at 8:15 p.m. Nov. 4 at Akbar Restaurant. Tickets start at $125; 2 South St., Garden City hosted by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, Queens and Long Island, aapiqli.org, 516-357-8300.

DIWALI CELEBRATION IN SELDEN

The event features religious activities, fireworks at dusk and food and blessings at the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 12. Free; 600 Middle Country Rd., Selden, m.htccli.org, 631-813-0917. 

DIWALI FESTIVAL OF LIGHT IN HICKSVILLE

Organized by the Afghan Hindu Association, which encourages attendees to bring sweet offerings to the Gods, pray and light candles at the Asa'Mai Hindu Temple from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 12. The event will include a Puja prayer to the gods and blessings for a year of peace, health and wealth at 7:30 p.m. Free; 80 E. Barclay St., Hicksville, asamai.com, 516-433-4388.

DIWALI AND CHOPDA PUJAN IN MELVILLE

Rekhaben Pandya of Hicksville prays at the Diwali Festival of Lights...

Rekhaben Pandya of Hicksville prays at the Diwali Festival of Lights held at the BAPS temple in Melville. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

This year's event includes a children’s Diwali celebration featuring festive traditions with games, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 12. The Chopda Punjan takes place in the evening, when journals and prayer books are blessed as families pray for success and happiness in the coming year at 7:30 p.m. The Annakut takes place the next day from 12:30 to 8 p.m. at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, 2 Deshon Dr., Melville, baps.org, 631-996-9237.

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