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Holi is one of the most colourful festivals in the Hindu calendar. It welcomes the onset of spring and celebrates the new life and vitality of all that follows. The beauty, energy and profundity of Holi were celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Thursday 5 March 2015.
Devotees and visitors arrived at the Mandir throughout the day and paid their respects to the murtis which were adorned with vibrant colours to mark the occasion.
Amongst the many significant events and beliefs associated with Holi, one of the most renowned is the protection of young Prahlad by Lord Vishnu. He was saved from a raging fire instigated by his demoniac father King Hiranyakashipu, killing instead his evil aunt Holika. Holi thus symbolises the burning of evil instincts and the saving grace of God. Worshippers therefore make offerings into a bonfire and reverently walk around it.
Also associated with Holi is fertility and the Vedic ritual of offering the first spring harvest to Agni, the fire deity. Devotees availed of the newly harvested grains after offering them to the devas. In keeping with this ancient custom, hundreds of devotees offered grains and coconuts into a bonfire lit in the open grounds of The Swaminarayan School from 6pm in the evening.