Illuminating Diwali celebrations in Milton Keynes

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The traditions and rich culture of Diwali and the Hindu New Year, one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu calendar - were joyously celebrated by B.A.P.S Swaminarayan Cultural Centre in Milton Keynesearlier this month.

Diwali for Hindus worldwide is an iconic community celebration, reinforcing, goodwill, family values and the closeness to God. Worshipers and visitors experienced this colourful, devotional sparkle and rich culture of the Hindu faith at the Medbourne Community Sports Pavilion..

Diwali known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ celebrates the victory of good over evil and is a time not only for rejoicement but also goodwill, charity, community and family values.

The traditional Annakut - an auspicious ceremonial offering of freshly prepared vegetarian food to the Deities, literally, ‘a mountain of food’ - is an offering of the first meal of the New Year in thanksgiving to the Lord for providence over the past year and to seek blessings for the Year ahead.

Representing the largest arrangement in Milton Keynes, more than 140 dishes of pure vegetarian food consisting of sweets, savouries, curries, pickles, salads, desserts, juices and various other items were artistically arranged exhibiting a spectrum of colours, delicious aromas and intricate art before the Deities.

This year in particular, the festivities were graced by Deputy Mayor of Milton Keynes and Mayoress, Cllr. and Mrs David Hopkins.

Cllr Hopkins commented on how these Diwali celebrations symbolise family, prosperity and knowledge. He enlightened upon the importance of families as the foundation of our communities and emphasised the importance of education as a gateway to success.

Iain Stewart MP for Milton Keynes South also attended, and paid tribute to His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the Spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Organisation who passed away in August 2016.

This was followed by the arti, a ‘ceremony of light’, waving lighted wicks before the sacred images to infuse the flames with the deities’ love, energy and blessings.