28 October 2011

Mayor visits temples to celebrate Diwali

Boris Johnson attended Diwali celebrations yesterday to mark the start of the Hindu New Year.

The Mayor visited the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden - the first traditional Hindu temple to open in Europe - and the Shri Sanatan Hindu Mandir in Wembley - one of the largest outside India and built according to the Vedic Hindu scriptures.

The Mayor, who also backed the recent 10th anniversary celebrations of Diwali in Trafalgar Square, met with senior figures as well as volunteers at each of the mandirs and joined thousands of others who witnessed the Annakut - literally, ‘a mountain of food’ - which is a devout offering of the first meal of the New Year in thanksgiving to God.

The festival of Diwali is celebrated by Hindus in London and across the world, as well as by Sikhs and Jains. The word Diwali or Deepavali means 'a row of lamps' lit to signify the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance and a new beginning.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "As Londoners and people around the world mark Diwali and the start of the Hindu New Year I am delighted to take part in celebrations at these two important mandirs. Diwali is about new beginnings and a commitment to family values and has lessons we can all appreciate, representing joy, love, reflection, resolution, forgiveness, light and knowledge.

"But these magnificent temples also illustrate the value of community and in particular volunteering, which are at the heart of Team London, my own action plan for volunteering – something I hope some of those attending the mandirs will want to get involved in. To Hindus in London and everywhere a happy Diwali – have a prosperous and happy New Year."

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