A Hindu spiritual leader was welcomed to Leicester today by thousands of devotees as he made a rare appearance in the city.
His Holiness, affectionately known as Bhaishri to his followers, is in the city for eight days as part of the Shrimad Bhagavat Katha (Krishna Speaks) cultural event at Rushey Fields, off Melton Road.
During the festival, he will read from religious scripts, spreading the message of “love, peace and harmony” and encouraging families to strengthen the spiritual and religious values held by the younger generation.
It has been 14 years since he last visited Leicester, so his arrival this afternoon was a huge moment for followers here.
Vaneeta Ravat, 54, attended the first day of the festival with her sister Gita Vaghela, 58, and sister-in-law Mukta Ravat, 57.
“This is very important to us,” said Vaneeta. “We love to listen to him speak. It has been a long time since he was last here so it is a big day.”Bhaishri was welcomed by a procession of people, with colourful flags waving and musicians leading the way.
Followers from Leicester were joined from others from all over the country, who travelled to take part in the festival.
Raseshvari Katechia, 40, was volunteering at the event with her children, Shreeya, 12, and Savan, nine.
“This is a privileged time for us, to come here and have the pleasure of his worship and blessing,” she said. “It is also good for us to volunteer. We are helping in the creche and it’s teaching the children to give something back.”
“It’s important to be part of the community and to help,” said Shreeya.
Visha Chandarana, 22, who also volunteered at the event, said Bhaishri had been “gifted by God.”
She added: “His teachings are of so much value. You learn a lot from listening to him speak. It has been a long time since he was last here, so we are expecting thousands of people to come throughout the next few days.”
Kirit Mistry encouraged attendees to sign up to the organ donation register through an NHS Blood and Transplant Service stall at the event.“The message that Bhaishri will hopefully be spreading as the days go on is about being selfless and giving back, which applies to organ donation.“This event is about what it really means to be a Hindu. We believe in reincarnation, so how we behave now will follow us into the next life.”
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For more information on the event, visit: http://www.krishnaspeaks.co.uk
By Gemma Peplow