6 JUNE 1997 PRINCESS DIANA VISITS THE SHRI SWAMINARAYAN MANDIR HINDU TEMPLE IN NEASDEN, LONDON

imageDiana, Princess of Wales  followed in the footsteps of her former husband, Prince Charles and visited a Hindu temple, in Neasden, Northern London on Friday, June 6, 1997.  The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple is the largest outside of India and is one of Europe’s biggest Hindu temples.  It has become a place of pilgrimage for many followers. imageDiana, the Princess of Wales, drew crowds wherever she went and her visit to the Hindu temple in London was no exception. She arrived looking cool and relaxed in a classical, Catherine Walker beige double-breasted, pleated summer dress with gold buttons and a wide belt . imageBefore entering the holy building the Princess slipped off her beige and black high-heel shoes, to go barefoot in the temple, and revealed painted toenails in “trendy” rouge-noir. imageIn line with Hindu tradition, the Princess also received a sacred red vermilion mark – or Chandlo – on her forehead to signify respect bestowed on a visitor. imageAfter receiving a garland of flowers the Princess walked up the steps into the temple. imageInside she was given a tour which included visiting nine shrines, and some time spent inside the inner sanctum where the Princess marvelled at the intricate marble carvings. imageBut Diana did not get to meet any of the monks, because the holy men with shaven heads and saffron robes could not look at her. imageThe eleven Sadhus at the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir are dedicated to a “lust-free, life-time of celibacy”, which is all part of their religious observations. imageDiana also paid a visit to the main prayer hall and was greeted by children in spectacular peacock costumes – an important symbol in the Hindu religion. image imageThe Princess, always at ease with young people, found the time to stop and chat with a few of them.  A group of young dancers below, performed a Peacock Dance for her. imageAnd the adults were also queuing up to meet one of the most popular women in Britain.
imageimageimageimageDiana chatted comfortably with the women and the men before going on to be presented with some gifts, both for herself and her children, Prince’s Harry and William.
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imageOne of India’s wealthiest families sponsored the visit which was arranged after a private charity dinner on May 1, 1997 to raise money for the Leprosy Mission of which the Princess is patron.
image Diana accepted the invitation from Srichand Hinduja, 61, the London-based scion who is reputed to be the head of India’s richest family, along with his brother Gopichand, 56.

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