An exciting Diwali community celebration took place at the John Lewis store in the Trafford Centre, Manchester, on 5 November. A joyful, colourful procession took place through the store. Shoppers enjoyed the devotional singing and storytelling by children and youths. This unique community celebration enabled many to learn about Diwali and Hindu values and to share in the celebrations.
Hundreds of people from the local community also came together at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Manchester, the Hindu temple on Lees Road in Ashton-under-Lyne, 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 the Greater Manchester area.
Kinjal 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 Tameside and Greater Manchester 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.
Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of the Opposition The Rt Hon Angela Rayner MP for Ashton-under-Lyne visited on Diwali day.
The Worshipful Civic Mayor of Tameside, Councillor Tafheen Sharif also joined the Hindu New Year celebrations and enjoyed taking part in this celebration and meeting many families.