Bay Area Community Celebrates Diwali

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All over the Bay Area and globally, the festival of lights or Diwali holiday celebrations are going on.

This year, the five-day celebration by Hindus, Sikhs and some Buddhist groups started Thursday as it's rooted in numerous cultural stories of triumph.

But many Indian American community leaders told us they simplify the holiday as the ‘victory of light over darkness, good over evil.

Bay Area story resonates as a family and community victory.

Romiel Chand just opened the doors to a new Hindu temple in October, a 5200 square foot facility that can fit 400 people in for prayers ceremonies and celebrations.

“We have some candles lit because today is Diwali and it’s the festival of lights, where lightness conquers darkness,” Chand said.

The temple is named in honor of his father Vijay, an immigrant who succeeded in the Bay Area as a grocer and in real estate, who dreamed of building a temple for the community but ran out of time.

“He said ‘if anything were to happen to me make sure you finish this temple for the community and that sat heavy with me,” Chand added.

Chand had some good luck, a closed Christian church with a religious use permit became available at the current Hayward site. So, he quit his tech job and spent a year as a construction manager, hiring subcontractors and doing much of the labor.

“Sometimes, I’d be even sleeping here during construction, bringing stuff, material from Sacramento, Santa Cruz, anywhere I can,” he said.

Finally, a few weeks ago the project for his mother and late father was done.

“I think the hardest part (choking up) was. I just wish my dad was here to see this. (Sniff),” he said.

The temple is now conducting evening services on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays as well as on major Hindu holidays such as Diwali, a time to shine a light on community and personal triumphs.

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