Thousands of people from all over the UK came together on Sunday 26 October to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, at Bhaktivedanta Manor Hare Krishna Temple, as part of one of the biggest festivals in the country.
Over 17,000 people celebrated Diwali at the UK's most famous Temple, which was donated by The Beatles star George Harrison to the Hare Krishna movement in 1973. Guests included MPs and Mayors from all over north London and beyond. Theresa Villiers MP and Shailesh Vara MP were among them.
Visitors were treated to a day of colourful Indian dramas, traditional dance performances, face painting, henna, with the festivities culminating with the famous annual grand firework display at 6.30pm. Bhaktivedanta Manor is the only Temple in the UK to host a Diwali fireworks display on such a scale.
The festival of Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness, and the story is told in the ancient Indian text, the Ramayana.
Lord Rama, his wife Sita, brother Laxman and friend Hanuman are returning home after defeating the demon Ravana. Their journey home took place during the new moon, so their travels were made in complete darkness. However, thousands of local villagers celebrating their return began to light up their route home by hanging lamps, lighting divas, candles and fires to help them get home safely, which is why it is often called the ‘festival of lights’.
Bhaktivedanta Manor is home to some of the world’s most beautiful deities of Lord Rama, Sita, Laxaman and Hanuman. Weeks of preparations go into designing the altar and Temple room, and the deities are a special draw for the thousands of pilgrims and visitors attending the festival.
Diwali is the second biggest festival hosted by the Temple after Janmashtami in August, which celebrates Lord Krishna’s birthday.
Srutidharma Dasa, Temple President of Bhaktivedanta Manor said: “Diwali is traditionally a time for families to come together – it gives us an opportunity to give, forgive and to be grateful. It is a time when we think about giving to others - helping those who are less privileged than ourselves. And, by forgiving others it grants us an opportunity for new beginnings...”
Photo courtesy: Vijay Mistry