At Edge Hill University we believe that to really begin to understand a Religion it is vital that we visit religious communities and meet with devotees. In this academic year for the Hindu Dharma module this began on Monday 4th of November when the Year One Undergraduate RE group attended Diwali celebrations at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Preston.
The Mandir was beautifully decorated and the offerings pictured below were truly remarkable. Once seated no one could tell that the Mandir was in fact an old factory !
The hospitality and welcome we were given was also tremendous and very humbling, especially for me as I was treated like a VIP and included in the Garlanding ceremony . For all of us it was great to join in the Festival of Lights and to feel part of a living, vibrant Hindu Community.
In December we visited the Gujarati Hindu Mandir in Preston which is the second largest purpose built Mandir in the UK. Once again we were made very welcome and we were able to ask the ever patient Mr Patel questions about the practicalities of following Hindu Dharma in Britain.
To round off the module, we invited my neighbours Karmesh and Saguntha Pulya to share their beliefs and understanding of Sanata Dharma. Karmesh and Saguntha have become regulars at Edge Hill over the last four years and once again help in our understanding of Hindu Dharma as a living faith. Saguntha sets up a shrine and sings to Ganesh as she performs Puja, I for one always find this very moving is very moving.
Another regular feature of their visit is that Saguntha draws Rangoli patterns using rice flour. Previous attempts by yours truly have always proved disastrous but this year one of the trainees, Sarah managed to impress Saguntha with her artistic abilities!