With bonfires, fireworks and Diwali, November is full of festivities. A spectacular display awaits, so join us as we explore the festival of lights, Hindu architecture and how we bring touches of candlelight to our hotels.
This year Diwali falls on the 4th November. It symbolises the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, it’s the day many businesses close their accounts and open new books to bring success and wealth for the year ahead.
Celebrants get ready for Diwali by cleaning their homes, wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts, enjoying fireworks and most excitingly, decorating with lights. It’s also believed that opening windows invites Lakshmi to give blessings.
Beyond the festivities, it is a time for reflection and change. Joy, friendliness, unity and good deeds are all hallmarks of Diwali and these qualities are believed to bring you closer to the divine. You can’t help feeling buoyant, when thinking about the happiness that abounds during this time.
One of the largest Mandirs (Hindu temples) outside of India is in London. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden is a monument to the technical precision and spiritual significance of Mandir architecture.
The construction of Neasden’s Mandir was a first for the western world. Never before had a traditional stone Mandir of such scale been built outside of India. The stone used had to be durable enough to withstand British weather, strong enough to be self-load bearing and soft enough for intricate carving. Almost 3,000 tonnes of Bulgarian limestone and 1,200 tonnes of Italian Carrara were used and along with 900 tonnes of Indian Ambaji marble, an enormous 26,300 piece puzzle began! Stone was hand carved by more than 1,500 skilled artisans at sites throughout India with each piece coded and shipped to the UK, creating this exquisite construction.
The ancient architectural discipline of Vastu shastra is applied when building a Mandir. It combines the principles of art, astrology, geology, structural engineering, sculpture, mathematics, ethics and drawing to create the best space for a harmonious relationship between dweller, dwelling and the cosmos. Once a site is chosen, a public ceremony is performed to pay homage to the land and seek the earth’s permission to build upon it. Building teams must be cheerful and free from malice and construction practises are aligned with Hindu principals. For example, no ferrous metals are used as they are believed to concentrate the earth’s magnetic field and impede meditation.
Diwali inspires us to celebrate the power of light. At our hotels we use candles to create ambience and they can be purposed in many different ways. Here are some examples of where we’ve used small scale light.
Should you ever find yourself at Ham Yard Village in the evening, look out for our river of lights and let the twinkling pathway guide you towards good times!