Sikh faithful came from all over Long Island Wednesday night to Glen Cove to celebrate Diwali, the joyful "Festival of Lights," a holiday which holds special meaning around the world.
Hundreds joined in the celebration Wednesday night, packing Glen Cove's . Among them were displaced members of Plainview's which was shuttered by the Town of Oyster Bay for a variety of code violations this summer. Plainview's gurdwara, or house of worship, on Old Country Road, remains closed as litigation progresses.
For Sikhs, Diwali celebrates freedom from political tyranny. Sikh officials say they are working with the town to resolve the code issues.
Timed to the first new moon between October and November, Diwali is also a harvest festival and religious occasion to many Eastern faiths. It is a national holiday in India.
For Sikhs, the holiday arrives shortly after their Bandi Chhorh Divas , or the "Day of Freedom", which celebrates the release from prison of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, and his freeing of 52 Hindu princes wrongly imprisoned, in October, 1619. Guru Hargobind and the others had been jailed at Gwalior for political reasons, Sikh experts said. The Sikh faith is based on the revelations of the 10 "revealed" gurus, the founders of the faith.
At Glen Cove Wednesday night, festive music and prayer combined with the rainbow colors of traditional attire and the flickering candles that symbolize the holiday. The candles represent the victory of good over evil, according to Sikh experts. Traditional food abounded.
While the has effectively shut down Plainview's gurdwara, in Old Bethpage has opened up its community hall to the Plainview Sikhs for their regular Sunday observances. by the Reform Jewish synagogue was met with widespread gratitude from the Plainview Sikh community.
Among the issues cited by the town is the lack of a certificate of occupancy for the gurdwara itself and the lack of a public assembly permit for the outdoor activities that are common features of the Sikh community. The gurdwara was closed after town officials acted on noise and other complaints from area residents.