As the gets underway this weekend, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham will be among the leading political figures joining in the festivities – which have had to go virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic constraints.
To connect with the spirit of Diwali building up in Manchester, ‘iGlobal’ connected with Gita Bhavan Temple to find out how preparations for the l are shaping up.
At a time when we cope with having to be physically distanced, technology has become a symbol of hope and positivity for many across the world. For faith groups, it has become a vital tool to engage with the community and as a way to celebrate religious festivals. And, while the usual visit to the temple and aartis may not be possible as before, lighting up lots of candles and diyas and enjoying some online is very much still possible.
The Bhavan Temple prides itself as being more than just a place of worship. Since 1987, it has operated as a centre of cultural and religious activities for the Hindu community in the region.
“We are dedicated to make sure that Diwali will be celebrated with grand magnificence as it is every year,” says Pandit Acharya Shyam Sunder Sharma.
Under government guidance in place before a complete lockdown, devotees visiting the temple were required to wear a face mask and any fruit or other offerings for the deities were being handled by members of the temple only.
The mandir, or temple, organised a virtual programme via Zoom to include bhajans, storytelling for children, performances as well as detailing the history of Diwali and special speeches.
Sharma said: “The programme will consist of telling different stories about the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. For the children, there will be a storytelling session on Goddess Lakhmi, and why we celebrate Diwali.
“There will also be dance performances by children, and we will tell the story of Lord Rama saving Goddess Sita from Ravana, told in both Hindi and English.”
With a central message for everyone to keep safe and secure, the temple’s pandit, or priest, called on the British Hindu community to mark Diwali with the same fervour – albeit online – with events such as the with its central theme of #InspireTogether.
“We hope that the blessings and light of Diwali illuminates your life with happiness. We encourage everyone to celebrate Diwali with the same spirit as before,” he said.
For Murali, a devotee at the temple: “Without doubt this year will be very different. We are celebrating at home by connecting with family in the UK and India, as well as friends.
“Even though the majority of the celebrations will be virtual, we are still getting the community together. It’s a lovely feeling.”
*While Diwali Day falls on November 14, you can get into the Diwali spirit by registering for and spread the message of #InspireTogether among your friends and family.