Hundreds of people from the local community came together at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, the Hindu temple in Southend-on-Sea, 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 in Essex.
With a creative and colourful ‘sea’ theme, the decorations wowed visitors over both days, as the Mandir paid homage to the seaside destination that has been its home for the last 19 years.
Sneha 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 Southend 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 more than 150 pure vegetarian 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.