BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, heralded the Hindu New Year, Samvat 2075, on 8 November 2018. The Hindu New Year follows the day after Diwali and is one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu calendar, celebrated joyously with devotional festivities, prayers and sharing.
The first ceremony began at 5.30am, followed by prayers for world peace and well-being. The ceremonial rajbhog arti followed at midday, first in the upper sanctum of the Mandir and then in the Haveli assembly hall where the annakut – literally, ‘mountain of food’ – was artistically arranged as an offering of the first meal of the New Year in thanksgiving to God.
The Mayor of London, the Rt. Hon. Mr Sadiq Khan, joined the celebrants for the festivities. In his address, Mr Khan thanked the Hindu community for their multi-faceted contributions to the capital. He added, “When I walk around this temple and I meet the volunteers, it inspires me. You show that is it possible to be a proud Hindu, and it is also possible to be a proud Londoner and to be proudly British.” He also paid warm tribute to the life and work of the creator of the Mandir, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. (For more about the Mayor’s visit, please click here.)
A number of prominent guests, including local councillors as well as members of Parliament also visited the Mandir to offer their respects throughout the day.
This year’s decorative lamps and artwork inside the Mandir reflected the theme of ‘unity’. Yogen Shah, a volunteer at the Mandir, further explained, “His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj regularly reiterates the importance of unity within families, the local community and across the world. This year, our celebrations will bring out the key messages of unity and encourage everyone to imbibe this virtue in their daily lives.”
To add to the festive experience, delicious vegetarian sweet and savoury snacks and various souvenirs were available once again at the ‘Diwali Village’ in the grounds of The Swaminarayan School (opposite the Mandir).
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