News & Events
Leader of the Conservative Party, Rt Hon. David Cameron MP, visited the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, to celebrate the Hindu New Year on Wednesday 29 October 2008.
Mr Cameron travelled by Tube to Neasden Station and arrived at the Mandir shortly after 4.45pm. The head sadhu of the Mandir, Yogvivek Swami, greeted him in the traditional Indian manner with auspicious marks of welcome and goodwill.
Mr Cameron first performed abhishek of Shri Nilkanth Varni, after which he proceeded to the sanctum sanctorum where he offered flower petals at the central shrine. He spent several minutes absorbing the peace and intricate architecture of the Mandir.
Thereafter, the Opposition Leader made his way into the Haveli Prayer Hall where he was greeted with rapturous applause.
Yogvivek Swami conveyed the prayers and good wishes of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in his welcome message, after which Mr Cameron addressed the assembly.
He began by expressing “what a privilege” it was for him to visit “this magnificent place” on this auspicious occasion. He also praised the themes of the festival – “the reaffirmation of hope, the celebration of friendship and of goodwill” – and added that these were values he shared as a part of his vision for a diverse yet unified Britain.
He went on to say: “This [temple] is not just a wonder of marble and limestone; it’s a symbol of the huge contribution that the Hindu community has made to Britain. The story of the Mandir is one of great faith and, as I understand it, collective effort inspired by the vision of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.”
Mr Cameron ended by wishing everyone a “Shubh Diwali” and went on to perform the arti with Yogvivek Swami and other dignitary guests.
Following the presentation of mementos, Mr Cameron bid farewell to the assembly and then departed from the Mandir at 6.15pm.
The New Year celebrations at the Mandir continued into the night with thousands of devotees and visitors flocking to view the world-renowned Annakut – a grand offering of hundreds of vegetarian food items as a traditional form of thanksgiving to God on the first day of the New Year.