Boris Johnson and Priti Patel visit Neasden to mark Diwali
- Credit: @neasdentemple
The prime minister and home secretary paid a visit to Neasden Temple in a week where worshippers celebrated Diwali.
Boris Johnson and Priti Patel celebrated the vibrant Hindu festival and the Hindu New Year with worshippers at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on Sunday (November 7).
Both were welcomed in the traditional Hindu manner before being taken on a tour of the stone temple complex and told about the BAPS nationwide Covid-relief efforts.
The pair offered a fruit basket at the central shrine of the Temple’s inner sanctum, where they spent several minutes absorbing the peace and intricate architecture.
They also observed the annakut – the ‘mountain of food’ artistically arranged before the deities as the first meal of the New Year, offered in thanksgiving for God’s gracious providence and to be later shared among worshippers.
They then performed the abhishek, an ancient Hindu practice of prayerfully pouring water over a sacred image, of Shri Nilkanth Varni, the youthful form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, a popular Hindu deity.
Mr Johnson, who was on his fifth visit to the temple, said: “What His Holiness [Pramukh Swami Maharaj] has contributed to the United Kingdom has been incalculable.
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"I have been here many times, but I don’t think I have ever been here at a time when the Neasden Temple has been so central to the life of the whole of the London community.
"Happy Diwali and Happy New Year to everyone in the Hindu community here in the UK.”
Ms Patel added: “We are delighted to be here today because this has been the week of Diwali.
The Prime Minister and I have been joining in the religious ceremonies and participated in the abhishek.
"The Temple has been at the forefront of every single activity in the local community, but also at a time of a national crisis which, of course, the pandemic was.”
Sanjay Kara, a trustee at the temple, said it was "an honour" to welcome the two ministers for Diwali.
"We offer our prayers that they can serve the public ably and look forward to working with them in support of our great nation,” he added.