Hindus hold fire-worshiping ceremony for deity of ‘duty’ in Ilford

It's the birthday of Lord Rama and the VHP Ilford Hindu Centre is celebrating

It's the birthday of Lord Rama and the VHP Ilford Hindu Centre is celebrating - Credit: Archant

Hindus celebrated the birth of a god after a nine-day of fast to “detox” the body and soul.

Worshippers gathered at VHP Hindu Centre, Cleveland Road, Ilford, on Friday, to celebrate Rama Navami – the birthday of Lord Rama, the central character in the Hindu epic the Ramayana.

It comes after Navratri – a nine-day celebration marking the various avatars of the “mother goddess” Durga.

A fire-worshipping ceremony was held to mark the occasion.

Temple spokeswoman Vinaya Sharma said the celebration is about the significance of “duty”.

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“The whole epic [the Ramayana] is based on his life and he’s the ideal son, the ideal husband and ideal brother,” she said.

“He’s an important figure for people because he reminds you of what your duty is and why we should put that before everything else.”

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The holy scripture tells the story of Rama, a prince who was sent into exile in a forest with his wife, Sita, and his brother, Lakshamana.

Sita was abducted by the evil demon Ravana but rescued by Rama with the help of monkey god Hanuman.

“The whole of his story is based on the good triumphing over evil,” added Vinaya.

The volunteer said the time of year was about “new beginnings” too.

“Most Hindu festivals have a spiritual and historical context, but they also have a seasonal aspect.

“We come through a winter where we have been indulgent, so we fast for nine days and it’s like a detox – it really energises me.”

The celebration comes in the run up to another festival – Hanuman Jayanti, the birthday of Hanuman – which takes place tomorrow (Friday).

“He is a popular god because a lot of the young guys want to be like him,” said Vinaya.

“Hanuman’s main strength is his 100 per cent devotion to Rama and Sita – he was very strong, very fast and he’s known as the deity of knowledge.”

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