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The Mandir

The term ‘mandir’ refers to the ‘dwelling place’ of God. Hindus go to the mandir in order to worship God, and perform many other activities including seva, service to the local and global community. Though there is only one Ultimate Godhead in Hinduism, there are millions of deities that act as pathways towards this Ultimate God, Purushottam (commonly referred to as Brahman).

There are different mandirs because each temple is dedicated to a god within Hinduism. For instance, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden, London, a mandir that is specifically focused on worship towards Lord Swaminarayan, the Ultimate God for BAPS Swaminarayan devotees.

To give another example, there is a mandir in Southall, London, that is focused on worship towards Lord Rama as the Godhead (yes, Lord Rama from the Hindu epic, the Ramayana).

If you ever decide to visit a mandir, you will need to remove your shoes. This is nothing but a sign of respect as you enter the house of God. The mandir is a sacred place. Therefore, by removing your shoes, you are portraying a sign of respect for the sacredness of the mandir.

Depending on the temple, there will likely be an aarti ceremony, which is a Hindu ritual where a priest usually waves lighted wicks in front of the murtis (form or image of god).

Many Hindus will have ‘ghar mandirs’ which means that they will have smaller temples inside of their home. This is so that Hindus can also pray and worship God in a private setting as well as a public setting during communal worship in the larger mandir. For example, some Hindus may well perform the aarti ceremony at home as well as at their local mandir.

Finally, as evident from the first two pictures above, many temples have highly intricate carvings and works of pure art. These carvings could include animals such as peacocks and elephants, as well as designs and artwork from ancient Vedic times. Intertwining with the concept of ancient India, the entrance doors of the mandir usually face east because the sun rises in that direction. The sun is a source of constant energy, and is something that constantly provides for all living beings on this earth. Hence, mandirs tend to face the eastward direction.

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