FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Fresno Hindu community is celebrating Diwali. The five-day Festival of Lights kicked off Saturday morning at a new Hindu temple.

“For the Hindu community, Diwali is like what Christmas is to Christians,” explained Zeal Shah, outreach administrator for Swaminarayan BAPS Temple. “The celebration symbolizes the victory of good over evil. We all have evil inside of us in different forms, and on this day, we celebrate to get rid of that and just be a better human being.”

The festivities kicked off at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning at the new Swaminarayan BAPS Temple on North Maple Avenue.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and Fresno State president Saul-Jimenez-Sandoval were there.

“It is a time to come together and to celebrate. And I believe we need more and more of this in our country today,” said Dyer. 

Day one included praying.

“We pray to the goddess Lakshmi for health, wealth, and prosperity for the upcoming year,” said Shah. 

Day two is about overcoming evil.

“Day three is Diwali where we celebrate with friends and family and community comes together to celebrate our rich tradition, food, and clothing,” said Shah. 

Day four is the Hindu new year and day five celebrates the bond between siblings

“It’s important for the kids because they are apart from the community, so they can learn more about their Hindu culture,” Niki Patel, who attended the event, shared.