Forecasts for stormy weather held true as Wellingborough was battered with torrential rain and gale forces winds during the first day of the New Year. The intemperate weather, however, did little to dampen the annual New Year’s Day prayers on Wednesday 1 January 2014 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Wellingborough. Visitors from around the country braved the elements to join in 12 hours of continuous chanting for world peace, harmony and well-being for the year ahead.

Housed within the Mandir is the ‘Akshar Deri’, a holy shrine where devotees offer prayers and prostrations and perform circumambulations for spiritual elevation. Since 1984, with the blessings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, it has become an annual tradition for Hindus around the country to offer such prayers here on the first day of the New Year.

Nimisha Barot travelled from Southend-on-Sea with her family for the event. Sharing her thoughts on the day, she remarked: “It was a beautiful, unforgettable experience. This is the first time that I have visited with my family and I can truly say that it was well worth the journey.  The volunteers were fantastic – so helpful and always smiling, even while standing out in the cold and rain. It was nice to see family and friends too, but to experience such peace and harmony in the Mandir was something else. We all prayed for those less fortunate than us and the health and prosperity for all in the New Year.”

The prayers continued uninterrupted from 7am to 7pm, when the day’s chanting (‘Akhand Dhun’) and numerous months of preparations drew to a close.

Mahesh Patel, lead volunteer at the Mandir, remarked, “The New Year is naturally a time for us to reflect and rejoice, but it is also a time to come together in the community and pray for peace and well-being throughout the world. Special thanks go to everyone in the community for their kind support in making this event such a success.”

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