The traditions, colours and rich culture of the Hindu faith were enjoyed in all their devotional vibrancy at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Luton, to celebrate Diwali.
Visitors and worshippers arrived throughout the day on Wednesday, November 7 to offer their prayers and respects.
A special ceremony was held in the evening for home and business owners. During this ‘Chopda Pujan’ ritual, business owners closed their existing ledgers and opened new ones in preparation for the year ahead. The ceremony also symbolises how one should take stock of one’s spiritual relationship with God.
The day following Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. The first ceremony began at 11.30am on Thursday, November 8, followed by prayers for world peace and well-being.
As part of the rituals, an annakut – literally a ‘mountain of food’ – was artistically arranged as an offering of the first meal of the New Year in thanksgiving to God and to seek his blessings for the year ahead. Over 700 visitors and worshippers visited throughout the day to enjoy the annakut.
Chetan Patel, a volunteer at Luton, added: “Diwali and the Hindu New Year are a time to reflect on the past and look ahead to improving for next year. This year, our focus was ‘Family Harmony’. Our spiritual leader, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, emphasises this as the backbone of a happy and stable society and Pramukh Swami Maharaj teaches, ‘The family that eats together, prays together and plays together, stays together.’”