The BAPS Swaminarayan Centre in Oxford hosts vibrant Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations every year.
However this month the scenario was very various due to the coronavirus crisis and events had to take place online instead.
The renowned neighborhood celebrations normally invite worshippers, well-wishers and members of the local community to commemorate the remarkable customs of the Hindu faith.
This year the centre in Oxford has actually been required to stay closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, through its nationwide headquarters at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London (popularly referred to as ‘the Neasden Temple’), worshippers and well-wishes across Oxfordshire were able to celebrate a Covid-safe Diwali and Hindu New Year previously this month.
In the middle of the global Covid-19 pandemic, volunteers and resident swamis at the Neasden Temple have embraced innovative ways to connect individuals, families and neighborhoods through online assemblies and services.
These were utilized to bring the light and warmth of Diwali and the Hindu New Year through a series of unique programs.
The celebrations began with a musical tribute to His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj– the Mandir’s inspirer and creator– on November11
The Dhanteras event is the first day of Diwali where fans offer their reverence to Lakshmi, the divine being of wealth and prosperity.
Swamis carried out special night rituals from the Mandir shrines on November 12, which were reciprocated by worshippers in their houses.
The primary Diwali celebrations on November 14 consisted of the ‘Chopda Pujan’ event where Saraswati, the divine being of knowledge, learning, the arts and wisdom, is revered.
The day following Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year.
Sanjay Patel, a volunteer at the centre, said: “Although worshippers and visitors were unable to commemorate in mass this year, we were thrilled to bring the improving spiritual experience to the homes of the local neighborhood.
” The celebration is a reaffirmation of hope, renewed commitment to household, relationship and goodwill, and a consistently approved celebration of the happiness of life. Households commemorated these worthy values regardless of staying apart. In keeping with the messages of altruism, charity and unity from His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, our prayers this year are for all those impacted by the international pandemic.”.