is one of the most important 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 and anywhere else he is worshipped. The in Manchester marked the festival, which took place last weekend, with several devotional and cultural 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. 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 . 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 , have taken on several initiatives to increase the of young diaspora members in community activities. iGlobal reached out to the temple’s president, Namratta Bedi, and executive member, Jay Acharya, to find out more about this.
“In the UK, is not a widely practiced religion. So, to preserve our heritage for second and third generations and the growing , 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 & also their self-belief.” explains Bedi.
“Raising 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 activities like Janmashtami play and 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 by encouraging them to volunteer at our Mandir.
Another temple to celebrate Maha Shivaratri was the Shiva Temple Manchester, an initiative started by the community to keep the Shaiva branch of 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 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 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 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 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 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 through their art and indeed feel connected to their roots and heritage.