Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, added colour to the Diwali celebrations in Britain by visiting Shri Swaminarayan temple in London and participating in the symbolic 'Laxmi puja'.
Yogvivek Swami, the head priest at the temple in Neasden, greeted the Prince on Friday in the traditional Indian way with a garland. The women of the temple welcomed the Duchess by applying
on her forehead.
The Royal couple then proceeded to the sanctum sanctorum where they offered flowers at the central shrine. Both spent several minutes witnessing the intricate architecture of the temple.
After meeting temple volunteers, the Royal couple made their way into the prayer hall where they were greeted with rapturous applause, musical fanfare and waving of flags.
of Shri Nilkanth Varni before being escorted to the
foyer to have a view of the building's architecture.
The Prince and the Duchess each lit a
to commemorate their presence on the auspicious day of Diwali. After receiving garlands, they participated in a symbolic
(Laxmi puja) ceremony while children chanted Verdic hymns. This was followed by a dance.
Prince Charles, in his address, spoke of his 'great privilege' of visiting the temple on this "auspicious occasion of Diwali, the most wonderful festival of light."
He specifically thanked the temple volunteers for their "overwhelming warmth" on his two previous visits to the temple in 1996 and in 2001, and felt especially touched on being allowed to participate in the sacred rituals this time, even joking about bringing his own account books to the temple so that they, too, could be blessed.