MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Viren Patel might be a long way from home, but the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Hindu Mandir Raleigh temple allows him to stay rooted in his culture.
He's not alone as the Indian population in Morrisville, Cary and Apex continues to grow.
"If this connection isn't kept, over the course of time, we feel our kids will forget what they're connected with like Diwali and what it brings," said Viren Patel. "I am from western India. It's a small town called Anand."
Patel is among hundreds celebrating Diwali the Festival of Lights. He stood inside the temple with his wife Dipal and their three sons wearing matching green lakhnavis. Teaching the children what India's largest festival means to their culture and why it's so important.
"We want them to remember it, grow up learning about their Indian culture and the significance behind it too," said Dipal Patel.
The temple drew thousands of worshippers throughout the day. There was a long line to take part in the Ceremony of Light, a practice of waving a lighted wick before the sacred image of God. The food symbolizes devotion.
"Families will come together to bake what they like. You'll see cookies and traditional Indian sweets and delicacies. Because we celebrate the mountain of food, you'll see many items stacked like a mountain," said Viren Shah, who is among the many celebrating the festival.
The Hindu, Jain and Sikh faiths are the primary faiths that celebrate Diwali. The festivities span multiple days before and after the official date.
"It's the festival of joy," said Patel.