Thousands gathered to celebrate Diwali at an iconic £7m Oldham temple as it celebrated its one year anniversary.

The Shree Swaminarayan Mandir was built through funds raised by volunteers and hosts various religious and cultural events throughout the year.

Volunteers also raised £3,000 to pay for the stunning fireworks display.

Temple trustee, Anil Kara, said: “We were glad to see so many people, young and old, join us during the festival. 

“Seeing smiles on the faces of our visitors during Diwali was the most rewarding part. It was a time when the temple truly came alive with devotion and celebration."

The festivities started with Danteras, a day dedicated to acquiring and worshiping precious metals and items. 

On November 11, attendees from across the North- West observed Kali Chaudas which is traditionally held to ward off evil spirits and seek protection. 

This was followed by the highlight of Diwali, Laxmi Poojan, which saw families come together to worship Laxmi, the Hindu deity of wealth and prosperity.

In the evening, the temple held Kali Puja which was organised by the North-West Bengali Hindu Cultural Association and welcomed mesmerising rituals to showcase the rich Bengali heritage.

The temple concluded celebrations with Aarti, blessing of the deity, after which worshipers greeted each other, forgiving any mistakes to celebrate a fresh start and new year. 

Attendees then went to Oldham’s Radha Krishna Temple to pay their respects before food was served.

The day concluded with devotees offering a huge array of food items to the Hindu Lord Krishna, as a mark of gratitude for the harvest and abundance.

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Over 100 volunteers helped throughout in the kitchen, operationally and with security and parking. 

Mr Kara added: “One of the most rewarding aspects of this temple is that it has become a place for our community to come together, learn, and share our cultural traditions. 

"The significance of Diwali goes beyond the temple walls; it's about spreading love, joy, and hope to the community. 

“We succeeded in making a positive impact in the lives of everyone who visited us during that special time.

“Diwali is just one of many such celebrations we plan to host here."

Asian Image: Shree Swaminarayan Mandir

The temple, which was completed solely by volunteers, recently observed its one-year anniversary with a grand celebration that showcased the power of community spirit.

Mr Kara said that building the temple was an 'amazing experience' as it demonstrated how a community can come together to achieve something ‘remarkable.’

Apart from its religious significance, the temple has been instrumental in fostering social cohesion.  It has facilities for sports such as women only netball and football while also holding classes for yoga, traditional dhol and piano. 

Temple’s president, Hitesh Bhudia, said: “It's been an amazing experience. Building this temple has demonstrated how a community can come together to achieve something truly remarkable.

“We hope it continues to bring people together and serves our community for generations to come.”