The many shades of Maha Shivaratri festivities in Manchester

The many shades of Maha Shivaratri festivities in Manchester

Maha Shivaratri is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar and is celebrated with much enthusiasm within the diaspora communities in the UK.  

It is believed that on Maha Shivaratri Lord Shiva descends on Earth himself and that his presence can be felt in sacred places like temples and anywhere else he is worshipped. The Hindu community in Manchester marked the festival, which took place last weekend, with several devotional and cultural programmes across the city and here iGlobal captures the myriad shades of those festivities. 

Shree Radha Krishna Mandir in Withington held a big event which included a cultural event, prasad bhojan (meal of offering) and the aarti. Talented young members showcased a wide variety of arts forms, such as Odissi dance, Carnatic singing, the recital of shlokas and much more. The enthusiasm in the performances was matched by that of the audience, who encouraged the youngsters with applause and cheering. Manchester, Ashton and Bury Cllr Vimal Choksi also graced the event as guest of honour. 

Shree Radha Krishna Mandir, one of the oldest temples in north-west England, have taken on several initiatives to increase the involvement of young diaspora members in community activities. iGlobal reached out to the temple’s president, Namratta Bedi, and executive committee member, Jay Acharya, to find out more about this.  

“In the UK, Hinduism is not a widely practiced religion. So, to preserve our heritage for second and third generations and the growing Indian diaspora, we are trying to encourage children to come forward with performances. Not only will this help them understand the values of community and the importance of religion & traditions, it will also help to grow their confidence & also their self-belief.” explains Bedi. 

“Raising awareness of traditions in a fun way is important, so we have planned a range of activities aimed specifically at children throughout the year. For example, monthly talks on Hinduism or fun activities like Janmashtami play and Diwali mela,” adds Acharya, whose lively hosting of the event further added to the festive mood of the evening.


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Earlier this year, the temple also launched an initiative to help children within the diaspora towards achieving the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award by encouraging them to volunteer at our Mandir.  

Another temple to celebrate Maha Shivaratri was the Shiva Temple Manchester, an initiative started by the South Indian community to keep the Shaiva branch of Hinduism alive in the UK. A traditional South Indian pooja (veneration) was accompanied by spiritual singing and bhajans, which were sung by a group of ladies from the Kannada Sangha North UK Bhajane Mandali, led by Hema Manjunath. The event, held at the Manchester Health Academy, was complete with a small dais set up for the Shiva pooja and Linga Abhishekam, adorned with vibrant decorations. The Shiva Temple Manchester’s event was also attended by the Mayor of Trafford, Cllr Chris Boyes, and his wife, who were welcomed in a traditional Indian way by gifting them a shawl and a thaali.  

The Gita Bhavan Hindu Mandir’s event was yet another devotional experience for the 500 or so devotees that attended for darshan. The temple was decorated with colourful marigold flowers and hosted a range of performances from bhajans to dances. Gita Bhavan also provided each of the devotees a chance to offer abhishek (offering) on the Shiva Linga (idol of Lord Shiva) themselves, which was a cherished experience by all those who attended.  

The Maha Shivaratri experience in Manchester is one of celebration and devotion. Not only do cultural events and celebrations such as these give members of the diaspora a chance to showcase their talents, it also allows many to express devotion through their art and indeed feel connected to their roots and heritage.

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