Diwali at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London is an iconic community celebration, reinforcing charity, goodwill, family values and the love of God. Worshippers and visitors experienced the devotional vibrancy and rich culture of Diwali with a host of festivities on Sunday 30 October 2016.
The ‘Festival of Light’, as it is fondly known, was marked with dazzling displays of bright, intricate Indian patterns and flickering lamps. The murtis in the inner sanctum were also beautifully adorned.
Worshippers and visitors arrived at the Mandir throughout the day to offer their prayers and respects. In the evening, a special ceremony for home and business owners was held in the presence of sadhus. The chopda pujan ceremony is an occasion for business owners to close their existing account books and open new ones in preparation for the year ahead. In doing so, they also reflect upon their spiritual relationship with God and the core values underpinning Diwali, such as giving to the needy.
The assembly included devotional singing by youths which conveyed further the spiritual significance of the festival. Memories of Diwali celebrations in London with Pramukh Swami Maharaj were rekindled through a video presentation. Yogvivek Swami, Head Sadhu of the Mandir, also addressed the gathering and wished the celebrants a very happy Diwali.
The festive atmosphere continued outside where devotees and visitors mingled with members of the local community to enjoy a selection of delicious traditional hot Indian street food in the marquee opposite the Mandir.
Earlier in the week, volunteers from the Mandir visited 10 Downing Street to celebrate Diwali with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Pooja Patel, a young volunteer at the Mandir said, “I love helping out at the Mandir during Diwali because there is a feeling of happiness from everyone you meet. It is a time where I can think about ways to help more people and become a better person.”