Saturday, 20 April 2013


Stage ten of the Tirath Yatra Sponsored Walk with Leicester Friends of Oxford Centre for Hindu StudiesShree Shakti Mandir, Canon Street.The goal is to visit 16 Hindu places of worship (mandirs) in Leicester on foot in a single day.

Tirath Yatra (Hindi: तीर्थयात्रा) is a journey undertaken as a pilgrimage.

I found Shree Shakti Mandir one of the most interesting stops on last year's Holi Yatra Walk. A single storey concrete building in a residential area, it would be easy to miss Shree Shakti Mandir or mistake it for something else - a scout hut, for instance. It's certainly one of the least ostentatious places of worship I've visited in Leicester. It reminds me of the Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm in the Orkney Islands, which I've visited twice (in 1984 and 2008). This building was previously used as a Roman Catholic church (Our Lady of Good Counsel). On the side of the building shown in these photos (on Moira Street), Christian symbols have deliberately been left visible, as a way of emphasising the harmony of past and present use.

Sadly, this time there's no one to let us in, so we have to content ourselves with seeing the outside only. The building has been enlivened with some vivid repainting of certain arts in red since last year's visit. This makes some elements stand out more than they did last time, such as the big red trident shown in the photo above, superimposed on a cross. There are another three tridents tucked into the niche on the gable, with the cross above them.

On the walk to our next destination, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, I discuss the significance of the trident with a couple of my fellow yatris. In Sanskrit and Pali, the trishula ("three spear") is the emblem of the god ShivaThe three prongs represent Shiva's three aspects:
  • creator
  • preserver
  • destroyer

as well as the three shaktis ("powers" - which suits this mandir, of course):
  • will
  • action
  • wisdom

The fearsome goddess Durga also brandishes a trishula in one of her seven hands.

I mention a few things about the trident and its use in classical mythology and art and in popular culture. Aquaman has one. So he should; after all, he's King of Atlantis!

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