Thousands of people from the local community came together at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, the Hindu temple in Leicester, 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 East Midlands.
Anita Patel, 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 Leicester 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.
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 on both days of the festival.
Councillor Bhupendra Dave also joined the Hindu New Year celebrations, who was thoroughly impressed by hardwork and dedication of the volunteers, the beautiful arrangement of the prashad and the peaceful atmosphere of the mandir
Over the Diwali and Annakut festival period, the mandir had 14000 visitors/devotees.