News & Events
Following the auspicious day of Diwali on 28 October, the morning of Wednesday 29 October 2008 ushered in the Hindu New Year. From early in the morning, devotees and families arrived at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, to offer their prayers on the first day of the New Year. Before their arrival, volunteers had been working through the night to ensure that visitors would have a smooth and pleasant experience.
The first prayers of the morning were dedicated to world peace and stability held inside the assembly hall. The Annakut – the ceremonial offering of vegetarian food to the deities – followed at midday. A breathtaking variety of over 1,200 dishes were offered. After the first arti ceremony of the day, the devotees enjoyed a video recording of the New Year’s blessings Pramukh Swami Maharaj had given in Gondal just a few hours earlier that same day.
The opening assembly also saw a small presentation ceremony. BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK, presented a cheque to Sgt Barry Woods for the Police Widows’ Fund. This is an annual donation, marking BAPS’ continuing support and appreciation of our Police force’s sacrifices in ensuring the safety of the public.
Throughout the day, a continual stream of devotees and visitors observed the majestic arrangement of sweets, pickles, salads, fruit drinks and various other items exquisitely prepared by the devotees. (Click here for interesting facts about the offering.)
This year, the Annakut also carried a special theme: “Go Veg… Go Green…”. Visitors were informed of our collective responsibility to care for the environment and the impact of our diet in doing so. Many people appreciated the environmental benefits of being vegetarian through the inspiring displays, exhibits and videos shown throughout the complex.
Several local councillors, Members of Parliament and other dignitaries joined the devotees throughout the day to participate in the half-hourly arti ceremonies and to pass on their New Year’s greetings. These distinguished guests included: HE David Cooney (Irish Ambassador to the United Kingdom), Richard Barnes (Deputy Mayor of London), Tony McNulty MP (Harrow East & Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform), Barry Gardiner MP (Brent North), Dawn Butler MP (Brent South), Sarah Teather MP (Brent East) – and importantly, the Leader of the Conservative Party, Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP.
Click here for a short video report of the Annakut celebrations on the BBC website.
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