Following the auspicious day of Diwali on Sunday 3 November, the morning of Monday 4 November 2013 marked the Hindu New Year (Samvat 2070), which was celebrated with great piety and devotion at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.
The first ceremony of the New Year commenced at 5.30am, followed by prayers for world peace and well-being. By mid-day, the Annakut – literally, a ‘mountain of food’ – was ready. It is a traditional offering of the first meal of the New Year made in thanks giving to God for his providence over the past year and to seek his blessings for the year ahead.
The Prime Minister Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP and his wife Samantha Cameron joined worshippers to celebrate the New Year. For a detailed report of their visit to the Mandir, please click here.
The Acting High Commissioner of India to the UK, Dr Virander Paul, had also attended. Dr Paul joined the ceremonial arti inside the Haveli shortly before noon, and was guided around the prayer hall as well as the sanctum sanctorum.
During his short New Year’s address, Head Sadhu of the Mandir, Satyavrat Swami, spoke of the ‘spirit of volunteerism’ that created this Mandir – a value fostered by Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He also spoke of the place that the Mandir serves for ‘people of different backgrounds to come together to worship God.’
As in recent years, devotees and visitors were able to offer their personal prayers and messages for the New Year through the ‘Share a Prayer’ service. Visitors conveyed festive messages digitally to friends and family which were then relayed on large screens in the assembly hall and around the complex.
Inspired by the Diwali message of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, children volunteering for BAPS Charities also collected funds for the BBC’s Children in Need campaign during the two-day festivities. Charity is a key theme for Hindus during this festive period.