Saturday, 10 March 2012


Seventh stage on the Holi Yatra Sponsored Walk with Leicester Friends of Oxford Centre for Hindu StudiesMandir Baba Balak Nath Ji on Uppingham RoadThe goal is to visit 15 Hindu places of worship in Leicester on foot today. Seven down ...

Holi (Hindi: होली), is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus, also known as the Festival of Colours. It is primarily observed in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal and in countries with large populations from India or of Indian descent who follow Hinduism.

Yatra (Sanskrit: यात्रा, "journey", "procession"), in Hinduism and other Indian religions, means pilgrimage to holy places and is generally undertaken in groups. One who goes on a yatra is known as a yatri. It is desirable, but not obligatory, for a Hindu to go on a yatra. One can go on a yatra for a variety of reasons, including festivals, to perform rituals for one's ancestors, or to obtain good karma. To traditional Hindus, the journey itself is as important as the destination, and the hardships of travel serve as an act of devotion in themselves. Visiting a sacred place is believed by the pilgrim to purify the self and bring one closer to the divine. (Thanks to Wikipedia for these definitions.)

When we arrive, the mandir is closed and there appears to be no one to let us in. While we're waiting, I have an interesting chat with Kash Bhayani, who takes part in cultural competence training activities for Leicestershire Police. Over the next few minutes, we take some group photos outside the mandir, just to prove that we were there, then move on.

We've walked barely 50 yards up and across Uppingham Road when we're called back. Our host has opened the door and we can get in after all. This is another of the more modest temples, although like all mandirs I've seen, it's bright, colourful with plenty to see and ask about inside. If you're interested in finding out more about the distinctive beliefs of those who worship here, visit the Baba Balak Nath page on Wikipedia.

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