The day after Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. The first arti of the New Year took place at 5:30am to begin a day of devotion at the Mandir. Sadhus and worshippers offered prayers for peace and prosperity across the world.
In keeping with tradition for this day, a beautiful Annakut – literally, ‘mountain of food’ – was artistically arranged before the murtis in the upper sanctum and also in the Haveli assembly hall. It is an offering made in thanksgiving to God for his providence over the year past and the year to come. The hundreds of varieties of pure vegetarian food is the largest such devotional offering in Europe.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Mandir since its inauguration by Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 1995. In tribute of this momentous occasion, special projections on the wall behind the Annakut featured images and scriptural quotations about the mandir, murtis and the guru. Visitors also observed various posters charting memories of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s visits to the Mandir over the past 20 years.
In his New Year blessings, Sadguru Pujya Swayamprakash Swami (Doctor Swami) spoke of the importance of one’s spiritual bond with God, and encouraged everyone to mark this auspicious day by strengthening their devotion to God.
Sadiq Khan MP, candidate for Mayor of London, also visited the Mandir for the celebrations. He was accompanied by councillors Muhammed Butt and Krupa Sheth.
Continuing the theme of thanksgiving for the New Year, children collected funds for the BBC’s ‘Children in Need’ appeal. The young volunteers engaged enthusiastically with visitors, encouraging all to donate generously. One of the collectors, Kirtan Patel, aged 11, shared, “The Mandir has taught me to think of people less fortunate than ourselves. This campaign gives me a great opportunity to do something positive and make a difference to others.”
Guests at the Mandir during the celebrations included visitors from America, Bangladesh, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ghana, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania and Uganda. One lady from Barcelona wrote, "It's an amazing celebration. Different from my culture, but so interesting. I would recommend to my family and friends. Gracias!", while another visitor commented: "Brilliant! Charming guides & the most beautifully decorated temple. Thank you for sharing it with us."