Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury hosts official Diwali celebration in Parliament with 'annakut' food mountain
PUBLISHED: 14:13 02 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:54 02 November 2018
Kingsbury's Hindu temple prepared the official centrepiece for early Diwali celebrations at the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The community of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury prepared the “annakut” food mountain for the annual Diwali festival for MPs, organised by the Hindu Forum of Britain.
The annakut consists of sacred sweets and savouries and has been transported back to the temple to be displayed on Thursday – Hindu new year – for an estimated 20,000 visitors. It has a “poppy” theme to honour the Armed Forces past and present and mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Diwali officially falls on Wednesday. This week’s event was the 10th time Parliament has formally marked it.
Guests included MP for Harrow East Bob Blackman and employment minister Alok Sharma.
Trustee of the Mandir Dr Mahesh Varsani said: “For our spiritual leader it is important that we are loyal to the country in which we are living.
“We must not forget those who sacrificed themselves for the freedom we can enjoy.”
Diwali, otherwise known as the festival of light, is the centre of the Hindu calendar and symbolises the triumph of good over evil.
Kingsbury Mandir’s Kausik Varsini said: “Diwali is about bringing families together.
“It is not just about Hindus – it is about everyone in our community.”
The Diwali event came two days before Brent’s London Assembly Member, Navin Shah, backed a motion at City Hall emphasising the importance of teaching the festival in the capital’s schools.
Mr Shah said: “Diwali celebrations reflect the rich, multicultural tapestry of London. They also contribute to the community cohesion and the cultural prestige of our city.”
Brent has second largest number of Hindus in the UK with more than 55,000 (17.8 per cent) based on estimates from 2011 – a number that may well have grown given the borough’s nearly 6pc population increase since then.
Dr Mahesh will lay a wreath at the cenotaph in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday on behalf of Kingsbury Mandir. It’s the first year non-members of the Armed Forces will be invited to lay a wreath to remember those who served in the war.