The Hindu festival of Holi was celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 19 March 2011. Holi (Fagun sud Punam), the ‘festival of colours’, marks the joyous arrival of spring. The sacred images in the Mandir were adorned with beautiful coloured clothing. Devotees braved the cool weather to enthusiastically offer their prayers on this auspicious day.
Also associated with Holi is fertility and the Vedic ritual of offering the first spring harvest to Agni, the fire deity. People availed of the newly harvested grains only after offering them to the devas. In keeping with this ancient custom, grains were duly offered to a bonfire lit in the open grounds of The Swaminarayan School.
Visitors expressed their gratitude that they were able to bring their children on this auspicious day to witness and participate in the traditional way of celebrating Holi and many were very pleased at the way that the arrangements for the festival were made.
Hundreds of devotees and visitors arrived to partake in the devotional celebrations. The festival brought together devotees as well as members of the local community who also joined in the celebrations.
The Swaminarayan Sampradaya also celebrates on this day the birth of Bhagatji Maharaj, Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s second spiritual successor. A devotional programme was held inside the Haveli after the festivities to mark this occasion, in which sadhus explained the virtues of Bhagatji Maharaj and the hardships he tolerated for the spiritual progression of devotees.