Friday January 18, 2019
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Hundreds visit Swindon’s ‘Sri Srinivas Balaji Kalyanam’ celebration

Photo: Swindon Advertiser

Swindon, UK: More than 600 people turned out for Swindon’s biggest and most successful Hindu community event on Sunday.

The Swindon Hindu Temple Trust organized the auspicious Hindu religious event “Sri Srinivas Balaji Kalyanam” for the second consecutive year. The event hailed an outright success and the biggest religious congregation in the town with families from different communities gathering to witness and participate in the Divine Marriage of Lord Vishnu, one of the holy trinity in Hinduism.

The sheer scale of the six hour long event was evident in the grand cultural extravaganza with its colorful decorations and sumptuous Indian vegetarian food.

Photo: Swindon Advertiser
Photo: Swindon Advertiser

The live event was projected on to big screens starting with the traditional welcoming of guests.

“The emotional outpouring, warmth, excitement and devotion was palpable in particular during the Palanquin procession of the Lord, when scores of people lined up to take turns, 20 at a time to carry the deities’ platform and also the traditional garland exchange wedding ritual ceremony accompanied by melodious music,” said Pradeep Bhardwaj chairman of the Swindon Hindu Temple Trust.

” A drummer and scores of women in traditional attires walked in front of the procession carrying traditional lamps, singing devotional songs.

“And there were special activities for children bearing testimony to all the hard work put in by dozens of volunteers for well over three months planning this event.”

Several Hindu rituals and ceremonies were performed amidst the chanting of Sanskrit shlokas by the official priests of Balaji Temple, Birmingham, one of Europe’s biggest Hindu temples.

Mr Bhardwaj delivered a passionate speech to the congregation narrating the positive role of religion in our lives and compared it to that of an elite coach for any aspiring/budding sportsperson and how places of worship can make immense contributions to art, culture, cuisine, economy, social upliftment and harmony in our society.

He then announced the news the Hindu community has been waiting for the last 50 years – that Swindon’s first Hindu Temple & Cultural Centre is now imminent in the next few months. This was greeted with loud cheers, fanfare and rejoice by the big congregation. This should further strengthen the multicultural fabric of Swindon town. Around £10,000 was raised for the building at the event.

The story was first published in Swindon Advertiser

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Puja for The Spiritualism, Not for Vulgar Entertainment

The westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures" and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those "holy books" only in the drawers of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods' idols !!!

he westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures"

By Salil Gewali

Any auspicious days in Hinduism are expected to be observed with a complete purity of action and thought. The same holds true for other religions too. As per the Hindu scriptures, the believers are required to stay away from any kind of sense gratifications, particularly when the specific days are dedicated to Gods and Goddess such as Navratri, Laxmi Puja, Krishna Janmashtami, Shivaratri, to name a few. The pathway to devotion and spiritualism should not be “desecrated” by the blot of the brazen entertainment. The scriptures logically explain why it is antithetical, and its adverse consequences.

Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.

 But, what a huge irony, rather a blasphemy that many people these days have started to choose the auspicious days of Gods to satisfy their base senses. Without a wee bit of regret, a certain class of people holds almost every auspicious day as the most “unmissable” occasion to booze with the friends, and what not, and stagger back home, lol! Such bizarre practices are fast catching now than ever.  Sadly, hardly any conscious people and spiritual organizations stand up and take the right measures to check such godless deviations.

What is quite unpleasant is that such a kind of unholy practices are often being facilitated by certain “Hindu intuitions” as well. On this past Laxmi Puja, the “propitious time” to perform the ritual had fallen between 6 PM to 7:53 PM. Yours truly decided to use that span of time for meditation. But hell broke loose. Apart from fireworks around, the Bollywood songs in high decibel burst forth from a certain Hindu institution quite frustrated the mission.

Sadhu Sanga Retreat, 2016

 One senior citizen laments – “Nothing could be irreligious than the fact that a favorable time for “puja” is also being used for the wrongful purposes. We rather expect the “Hindu institutions” to teach our children Bhajan, Kirtan, and other spiritual activities, not the loud and feverish parties and disturb others.”

Another college student adds “Having been much disturbed by the noise pollution, I have persuaded my parents to shift our place of residence to elsewhere, not at least near holy places with an unholy mission. I have started to see such institutions with the eyes of suspicion these says.” Is it that our institutions are unable to use their “discretion”, and as a result, they fail to differentiate between right and wrong?  One is deeply apprehensive that Bollywood songs and vulgar dances might as well be included as a part of the “puja ritual” as we have long accepted the fun of fireworks bursting as an integral part of Laxmi Puja which in fact is just an entrenched “misconception”.

Hinduism is expected to be observed with a complete purity of action

Needless to say, our roar for consumerism has almost drowned the whisper of inherent spiritualism. We are only just sending out the wrong messages. I’m afraid, the whole culture itself might be looked down with derision by other faiths. It might just become a subject of ridicule! It is no exaggeration, such negative notions against the “wrong practices” are all what we often read these days in several newspapers and social media. Do we want others to demean our profound spiritual heritage thus?  I believe it calls for a serious soul-searching.

Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.  It warns in the strongest terms that mankind should absolutely be careful not to fall under the influence of any short-lived sense gratifications. Or else, our endeavor to “practice and preserve” the sanctity of a religion/spiritualism will be a futile exercise.

However, on the other hand, the westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our “scriptures” and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those “holy books” only in a drawer of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods’ idols !!!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.