An iconic Oldham temple which recently celebrated its first anniversary has brought together thousands of worshipers to celebrate Diwali.
Shree Swaminarayan Mandir
The celebration, which took place between November 10th to 13th, coincides with New Year festivities and is about the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness in the Hindu tradition.
Celebrating Diwali in Oldham
This year the local Hindu community in Oldham who helped to fund the construction of the Greater Manchester landmark, brought £3,000 worth of fireworks for the annual display.
Temple trustee, Anil Kara, has thanked everyone who helped with the preparation of the events and those who came out to celebrate.
He said: “We were glad to see so many people, young and old, join us during the festival.
“Seeing smiles on the faces of our visitors during Diwali was the most rewarding part. It was a time when the temple truly came alive with devotion and celebration.”
The festivities started with Danteras, a day dedicated to acquiring and worshipping precious metals and items.
On November 11th, attendees from across the North-West observed Kali Chaudas which is traditionally held to ward off evil spirits and seek protection.
This was followed by the highlight of Diwali, Laxmi Poojan, which saw families come together to worship Laxmi, the Hindu deity of wealth and prosperity.
In the evening, the temple held Kali Puja which was organised by the North-West Bengali Hindu Cultural Association and welcomed mesmerising rituals to showcase the rich Bengali heritage.
The temple concluded celebrations with Aarti, the blessing of the deity, after which worshipers greeted each other, forgiving any mistakes to celebrate a fresh start and a new year.
Attendees then went to Oldham’s Radha Krishna Temple to pay their respects before food was served.
The day concluded with devotees offering a huge array of food items to the Hindu Lord Krishna, as a mark of gratitude for the harvest and abundance.
Over 100 volunteers helped throughout in the kitchen, operationally and with security and parking.
Mr Kara added: “One of the most rewarding aspects of this temple is that it has become a place for our community to come together, learn, and share our cultural traditions.
“The significance of Diwali goes beyond the temple walls; it’s about spreading love, joy, and hope to the community.
“We succeeded in making a positive impact in the lives of everyone who visited us during that special time.
“Diwali is just one of many such celebrations we plan to host here.”
The iconic temple, which was completed solely by volunteers, recently observed its one-year anniversary with a grand celebration that showcased the power of community spirit.
Mr Kara said that building the temple was an amazing experience as it demonstrated how a community can come together to achieve something ‘remarkable.’
Apart from its religious significance, the temple has been instrumental in fostering social cohesion.
Not Just Worship
It has facilities for sports such as women-only netball and football while also holding classes for yoga, traditional dhol and piano.
The temple’s impact has transcended religious boundaries, bringing together not only the Hindu community but also people around the region.
Hitesh Bhudia, the temple’s president, said: “It’s been an amazing experience. Building this temple has demonstrated how a community can come together to achieve something truly remarkable.
“We hope it continues to bring people together and serves our community for generations to come.”