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Gibraltar’s Hindu community celebrates Diwali

Photos courtesy of Hindu Temple Gibraltar.

The Moorish Castle this weekend was lit in orange and green to mark the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali.

Much as other parts of the world, the local Hindu community celebrated with joy and splendour.

Sunday was the main Diwali day, with special prayers in the Hindu Temple in the afternoon.

This was followed by a meal, langhar, served to those attending and sparklers outside for the little ones.

Many then returned home to pray to the Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of Prosperity, in their homes.

The festival of Diwali spans a period of five days and began on Friday with the festival of Dhanteras, when it is considered auspicious to buy precious metals such as gold or silver as a sign of prosperity.

In Gibraltar, where many local Hindu families own and run businesses, special prayers are held in their shops to mark the occasion.

“Every year preparations for Diwali start weeks in advance,” Karuna Malkani, Chairperson of the Hindu Temple Committee said.

“We start with cleaning the entire temple, we get new clothes for our deities, and after the cleaning is done the Deities are dressed in the new outfits.”

“The temple is decorated with colourful flowers, lights and lamps.”

This year, Haresh and Kamal Bakhru performed the ceremony on behalf of the entire Hindu Community in Gibraltar and the prayers were conducted by the officiating priest, Ishwar Bodha.

“The ceremony commenced by invoking Lord Ganesh, Remover of all Obstacles, and ensuring success in all our endeavours,” Mrs Malkani said.

“Thereafter the nine constellations are invoked, and Goddess Laxmi is invoked which signifies prosperity and wealth.”

“This prosperity and wealth signifies spiritual prosperity and well-being.”

“After this Lord Kuber is invoked, who is regarded as God of wealth. He is also considered as a regent of the north and a protector of the world.”

Prayers and food are offered to the deities, and the rituals are performed with a “deep sense of reverence”.

“Diwali itself is a day of prayers, rituals and mantras along with offerings of sweets and fruits to deities,” Mrs Malkani said.

“After the prayers, the community gathered for a grand feast and share warm wishes.”

“The children lit sparklers celebrating the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.”

“Diwali is, thus, a time for renewal, spiritual reflection and togetherness, and represents light and love.”

In his address at the Temple, the President of the Hindu Community of Gibraltar, Sunil Chandiramani, said Diwali is a “time to reflect at the year that has passed, and to look forward, with courage, to the year ahead”.

Quoting the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, Mr Chandiramani said Diwali is a “poignant endeavour for a brighter tomorrow”.

This year more than 350 attended the Hindu Temple for the Diwali prayers.

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