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Hundreds of people from the local community came together at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, the Hindu temple in Luton, to experience the vibrant sounds, flavours and colours of Diwali – ‘the Festival of Light’  – and the Hindu New Year from 12 to 14 November. It was one of the largest devotional celebrations in Luton.
Sheila Rathod, 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 Luton 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 across the event.
HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Susan Lousada, also joined the Diwali celebration and told hosts she found the sense of the community and the coming together of so many volunteers of all ages as very warming. 
Also among the guests was the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, Russell Beard, who added: “Thank you for the warm reception and incredibly interesting evening. Everyone was so friendly, and I am very grateful.”

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