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Diwali is one of the most auspicious Hindu festivals of the year, where charity, goodwill, family values and the love of God are reinforced. These traditions were joyously celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Wednesday 11 November 2015.

This year – the 20th anniversary of the Mandir – the Hindu ‘Festival of Light’ also supported the UN’s ‘International Year of Light’.

Worshippers and visitors arrived at the Mandir throughout the day to offer their prayers and respects as well as observe the beautifully adorned murtis.

The Chopda Pujan ceremony was conducted for home and business owners in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Swayamprakash Swami (Doctor Swami). It is traditionally the day when business owners close existing account books and open new ones in preparation for the year ahead, also symbolising how one should take stock of one’s spiritual relationship with God.

During the short assembly that followed thereafter, Doctor Swami addressed the gathering and offered his warm wishes to all those celebrating Diwali, encouraging everyone to strengthen their attachment with God.

The grand finale was a spectacular fireworks display in Gibbons Park, across the road from the Mandir. Local councillors Muhammed Butt and Krupa Sheth joined the large crowds who had gathered from around the capital for the vibrant fusion of sound and colour.

It was a festive atmosphere all round, as many of the thousands also enjoyed traditional hot Indian street food in the marquee opposite the Mandir on an otherwise crisp November night.

Avani Patel, a volunteer at the Mandir, said: “It is great to see not only friends and family, but many people from the local community come together and enjoy the happiness of Diwali. We’re delighted to share the messages of unity, friendship and goodwill with all who visit.”

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