A Hindu temple has marked its fifth anniversary with a procession and two days of festivities.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir marched through the streets of Chigwell to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the temple and the consecration of a new deity, Shri Nilkanth Varni on October 15.

The Nagar Yatra, as the devotional parade is traditionally called, brought together hundreds of men, women and children for a colourful occasion featuring traditional Indian folk dancing, devotional music, and decorative chariots.

Epping Forest Guardian: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir processionBAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir procession (Image: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir)

This was followed by a special cultural programme of dance, devotional singing, and speeches in the evening.

Then, on October 16, the Chigwell temple held the consecration ceremony for the new sacred image of Shri Nilkanth Varnim, the teenage form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan .

Water was poured over the sacred image to honour God and attain blessings in a practice known as abhishek.

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Devotees performed a special ceremony and prayed for blessings of peace, prosperity and harmony on the local community and the world.

Finally, a variety of sweet and savoury dishes were offered to the deities in the main shrines to thank God for his providence before the weekend observances culminated with a special assembly concluding the two-day festival.

Temple volunteer Palak Joshi said: “The two-day celebrations brought back wonderful memories from the inauguration ceremony by Mahant Swami Maharaj in 2017.

Epping Forest Guardian: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir anniversary procession. Pictures: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan MandirBAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir anniversary procession. Pictures: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Image: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir)

“My family were overjoyed to participate in the procession through the heart of Chigwell – I am so grateful to the Mandir for keeping us all connected to our culture and traditions, and it was wonderful to share that with that the local community.”

Swaminarayan Mandir, Chigwell, was established in Mandir Lane in 2017. It provides educational, community and spiritual activities for children, youths, families and the elderly.

It is also a focal point of worship for thousands of Hindus in the Essex and East London area.

The temple was opened in June 2018, almost 15 years after the hunt for a new site suitable for the growing Hindu population just out of London was embarked upon.