people across Swindon joined together to celebrate the Hindu goddess of knowledge and wisdom yesterday.

The Saraswati Puja festival, a religious event devoted to the goddess Saraswati, took place for a second year at The Platform, in Faringdon Road.

It involved ceremonial, devotional and cultural activities.

The puja cultural secretary, Sujan Saha, 33, of Commercial Road said: “Everything went very well. “Many people from the Indian and Bangladeshi communities came to celebrate and offered food and flowers to our goddess.

“Puja is significant for us and for many on the Asian sub-continent, including India.”

The religious aspect of the festival involved a new statue of the goddess being brought into the community.

She was dressed in traditional clothes and worshipped with offerings of flowers, fruits and incense sticks in a ceremony that was followed by collective prayers.

Sujan said: “It was good and a big thank you to all the people who supported us. “It cost more than £8,000 but the money was brought together by many local businessmen, and it meant there was food and sweet drinks for free.”

During the evening, the celebration continued with contributions from bass player Phil Spalding, Giorgio Mollo, and local artist Adam Hodges, among others.

There were also dance performances from groups around Swindon and beyond, including the Swindon Tamil Association and the London Dance Troupe.

Visitors also took part in sari-tying workshops and henna art, and they could also have a photograph taken with the goddess’ statue.

Guests could also take part in a raffle with prizes including an LED television, and a laptop, drawn by a beauty queen who has held the Miss Swindon title, Hannah Golding.

Sujan said: “Last year, we were pleased that 200 people attended and this year even more have come, and we hope that even more people can come along next year.”

The goddess Saraswati is celebrated and worshipped by all Hindus interested in knowledge, including students, teachers, scholars and scientists in Bangladesh and India.

In Hindu mythology Saraswati is the divine consort of Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe. She is generally depicted with two arms wearing a yellow sari and seated on a white lotus, holding a book and playing a lute.