Hundreds of people from the local community came together at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, the Hindu temple on Mill Road, to experience the vibrant sounds, flavours and colours of Diwali – ‘the Festival of Light’ – and the Hindu New Year on Sunday 12 and Monday 13 November. It was one of the largest devotional celebrations across the Northamptonshire area.
Sarue Mistry, a volunteer at the temple, explained, “Diwali and the Hindu New Year bring values of goodwill, charity and harmony across communities in the UK. As families continue to grapple with challenges, it was heartwarming to bring some festive joy and smiles to the people of Wellingborough and share memories that will bring hope and light for the rest of the year and beyond.”
The Diwali festivities included a special ceremony to bless business owners, families as well as students with righteous prosperity and success. The evening concluded with a vivid and spectacular fireworks display, in conjunction with Wellingborough District Hindu Association (WDHA), at a nearby park.
One of the highlights for visitors was the annakut – ‘a mountain of food’ consisting of hundreds of dishes freshly prepared by devotees – that was artistically arranged as a devotional offering of the first meal of the New Year made in thanksgiving to God.
To add to the festive experience, visitors enjoyed delicious vegetarian sweet and savoury snacks and various souvenirs at the ‘Diwali Village’ outside the Temple on both days of the festival.
With Remembrance Sunday coinciding with the festival, the congregation joined the nation in honouring our fallen heroes and praying for global peace by conducting a minute of silence, laying of a wreath and with youths chanting the shanti-paath, an ancient Vedic peace prayer.
Morcea Walker MBE, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, also joined the Hindu New Year celebrations. She shared, “All faiths have their special celebrations that mean so much to their members and friends. On entering the temple the spirituality of the place and event was very clear. One could not help but realise that you were entering a venue of prayerfulness, a place to learn and understand a faith, like others, that stress the importance and power of the light. By the displays we were able to understand so much as to why we were in that place, on that day, at that time. The peace therein gave us all time to reflect, pray and appreciate the joy of sharing and caring with the light being our guide.”