Saturday, 10 March 2012


Eighth stage on the Holi Yatra Sponsored Walk with Leicester Friends of Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies: Shree Sanatan Mandir, Weymouth StreetThe goal is to visit 15 Hindu places of worship in Leicester on foot today. Eight 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.)

Almost exactly a year ago, Shree Sanatan Mandir celebrated its 40th anniversary, when it received a visit from Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (see blog, Tuesday 29 March 2011).

We’re slightly ahead of schedule by this point and rather than arrive early at our next destination, the group spends more time in the worship hall, chanting and singing devotional melodies. I sit outside in the lobby, where I have an interesting chat with an elderly fellow who introduces himself to me as Hari. He comers from Delhi and is on his first visit to this country. He tells me that since he was a small boy, all he’s heard is “England this and England that” so he decided it was time for him to come and see it for himself. To say he’s not impressed (especially "area-wise") would be putting it mildly!

I leave some flyers and A4 posters for the upcoming REDP event Choice Unlimited (after asking permission, of course). I also leave information about the Council of Faiths next open meeting, a panel presentation entitled "God in my faith" coming up during the week.

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