The traditions, colours and rich culture of the Hindu faith were enjoyed in all their devotional vibrancy at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj on Thursday 19 October 2017 during the festival of Diwali – one of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar.
Diwali at the Mandir is a community celebration, reinforcing charity, goodwill, family values and the love of God. Diwali is also called the ‘Festival of Light’ because devotees traditionally light rows of lamps symbolising the triumph of good over evil. The Mandir was decorated with beautiful lamps and candles as well as traditional Indian artwork (rangoli).
Swamis sang a series of bhajans extolling the spiritual significance of Diwali during Swamishri’s puja. Swamishri blessed the assembly in the morning and emphasised that Diwali is an opportune moment to reflect on one’s personal spiritual progress. He also encouraged everyone to imbibe the values of unity and humility, and prayed that peace, harmony and righteous prosperity prevail in the world.
Devotees and visitors arrived at the Mandir throughout the day to offer their prayers, particularly in the evening when a special ceremony was conducted for home and business owners. It is traditionally the day when business owners close existing ledgers and open new ones in preparation for the year ahead. The ceremony also symbolises how one should take stock of one’s spiritual relationship with God.
Swamishri presided over the ceremony and addressed the congregation again. He expressed that during this auspicious day, he had been praying for the betterment of everyone.
The highlight of the evening for both young and the elderly including the local community was the spectacular fireworks display. Despite the pouring rain, thousands were enthralled by the colourful exhibition that illuminated the skies of north-west London high above the Mandir domes. The iconic arch of the nearby Wembley Stadium was also lit up in orange in honour of the Mandir’s Diwali celebrations in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj.
Hot delicious snacks and festive souvenirs were available from stalls at the Diwali Village located in The Swaminarayan School grounds. Volunteers were also on hand to shuttle worshippers and visitors to and from nearby car parks.
Ripal Patel, a volunteer at the Mandir, said, “Diwali at the Neasden Temple is always a joyous occasion and it is a time to reflect on my spiritual progress. This year, the celebrations are extra special because Mahant Swami Maharaj is here to celebrate with us. He has inspired us to make a positive difference in our lives and see the good in everyone.”