News and Events
On Sunday 24 August, a grand celebration was organised by BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, to mark the birth of Bhagwan Shri Krishna.
The day, traditionally known as Janmashtami, began with a grand Annakut being offered to the deities in the Mandir. Throughout the day, visitors viewed the Annakut and all were given sacred prasad of ‘panchajiri’. A special sabha was also held in the evening in the Haveli prayer hall. Sadhus spoke of the glory of devotion to God and sang devotional bhajans extolling Bhagwan Shri Krishna. The finale marking the birth of Bhagwan Shri Krishna was celebrated with the arti ritual and the swinging of the ‘paranu’ (birth-cradle) by all the devotees.
Prior to the Janmashtami celebrations, a special three-day parayan (spiritual discourses) on the Bhagvad Gita was organised by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha at the Kadwa Patidar Samaj Hall in Harrow from Tuesday 22 August to Thursday 24 August to mark the occasion.
This year’s GCSE results at The Swaminarayan School in London have again been of an exceptionally high standard. A full 100% of all students who sat the exams achieved 5 A* to C grades; nationally, 65.7% of all pupils met this level of attainment. Additionally, 41% of all results were in the A* and A band (compared to 20.7% nationally), with this increasing to 75% for the A*, A and B band.
Congratulations to all the students for these excellent results. We wish them all the best for their A Levels and future academic careers. A special note of gratitude also to the teachers, parents and governors of the School for their continued efforts and commitment to building upon its strengths year upon year.
As part of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s continuing health awareness campaign, a series of events have been held over the past month to promote awareness on cardiovascular disease and identification of its risk factors at an early stage.
On the afternoon of Saturday 21 June 2008, BAPS in conjunction with The Royal Free Hospital and Heart UK conducted a screening session for risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is a huge killer amongst the South Asian community. The detailed screening was very useful and all those who were identified as being at a high risk will be invited for a follow-up session with a specialist nurse to advise on healthy lifestyle and appropriate preventive measures. Further screening sessions are planned throughout the year.
The same evening, BAPS hosted the British Heart Foundation’s chest pain awareness campaign entitled “Doubt Kills”. This campaign is aimed at raising awareness in the general public on chest pain and the importance of calling an ambulance in this situation. After an introduction to the campaign by Dr. Mike Knapton, Director of Prevention and Care at the British Heart Foundation, a presentation on chest pain was delivered by Dr. Deven Patel, Consultant Cardiologist at Barnet and Royal Free Hospitals. Dr. Patel discussed the causes of chest pain and factors which increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.
Continuing with the health awareness campaign, BAPS with the British Heart Foundation held an Emergency Life Support Training Programme on Saturday 28 June 2008 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden. The aim of this programme was to teach individuals basic life support skills which would be essential should an emergency arise. During the course of the afternoon, 105 people attended the ELS training programme and further sessions are planned.
Future planned activities include:
- Blood disorders presentation focusing on Thalassaemia, Haemophilia, blood and bone marrow donation.
- Ladies Health Awareness Day
- A Health Fair at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden
On Saturday 26 April 2008, over 350 children from all over the UK gathered at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, to participate in the National Children’s Conference. Trainers from BAPS Children’s Forum had teamed up with professional coaches to deliver vital life skills to 9- to 14-year-olds. Entitled “The Power Within: Enrich, Empower, Enlighten”, the conference aimed to help these youngsters enjoy and make the most of their childhood while also preparing them for the challenges that lay ahead in our increasingly testing times.
The opening session was called ‘Reach for the Sky’ and touched upon the basics of being successful and happy by cultivating values such as courage, determination, honesty, and generosity.
Over 100 parents attended a separate parallel session where they were given information about the changes in the National Curriculum and their role as parents in their children’s education. The parents were also made aware of the dangers of the internet if used indiscriminately.
For the children, a Police Community Support Officer then shared real-life examples poignantly highlighting the noxious effects of drugs and alcohol upon young people.
After lunch, the theme of ‘Reach to the Sky’ continued with the teaching of relevant leadership skills.
The next session was called ‘You Are What You Eat’. Dr Kant, a general practitioner, used accessible language and interactive presentation tools to cover health topics affecting children of today. He emphasised healthy eating and regular exercise, and also warned against obesity and substance abuse.
A yoga and meditation session also trained the children to be more focused through basic breathing exercises and yogic postures.
The final session titled ‘The Leader in You’ was conducted by the sadhus. They detailed values and outstanding qualities of famous leaders whose lives have influenced the world. They concluded that to lead others one must first learn to lead one’s self.
At the end of the conference, the children received certificates congratulating them on their keen participation. They – and even the parents and trainers – all left after a thoroughly enjoyable day with a bundle of new learning.
Also present at some point during the conference were several local councillors: Mrs Anju Patel, Mrs Uma Fernandes, Ms Mary Arnold and Mr Robert Wharton. They were particularly impressed with BAPS’ focus on holistic child development and its successful implementation from such a young age. One dignitary also remarked that such training was “laying the foundation for a safer, healthier and brighter future for our country.”
On Monday 14 April 2008, worshippers at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London, celebrated the festivals of Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi with great devotion and fervour. To mark this auspicious occasion, a grand variety of food was offered to the deities.
At 12 noon, the sadhus performed the birth-arti of Shri Ramchandraji. All the devotees had the opportunity to rock the cradle of Shri Ramchandraji. Throughout the day, devotees were also given the opportunity of offering abhishek to the sacred image of Nilkanth Varni (Bhagwan Swaminarayan).
In the evening, devotional singing and discourses extolling the life and virtues of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shri Ramchandraji were presented. The grand assembly culminated in the celebrations of the birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan at precisely 10:10pm.
Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi were also celebrated on the evening of Saturday 12 April 2008. An enlightening programme featuring sketches, discourses and devotional singing was prepared by the Yuvak Mandal extolling the power of the Swaminarayan mahamantra. Through the inspiring programme, the glory and divinity of Bhagwan Swaminarayan was depicted and accounts from devotees past and present were illustrated as verses from “Je Swaminarayan Nam Leshe…” were explained through the vivid performances.
Yogvivek Swami, head sadhu of the Mandir, then addressed the assembly and spoke of the significance of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s birth during the period of Kaliyug in eradicating peoples’ inner enemies and promoting righteousness and peace.
Following the main celebrations, the awards ceremony of the National Sponsored Walk & Fun Run 2008 took place. BAPS recognised the admirable efforts of all the participants and also appreciated key supporters, in particular, Ajay Patel and David Clough from Goldshield, platinum sponsors for the charity event.
Another assembly celebrating Swaminarayan Jayanti was held on Saturday 19 April. The Women’s Wing of BAPS UK presented a colourful cultural programme featuring devotional dances, a grand procession, live enactments, and inspiring speeches about the life and work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan as well as the exemplary lives of His devotees. The wonderful evening ended with the second phase of the National Sponsored Walk & Fun Run 2008 prize-giving ceremony.
On Saturday 12 April 2008, children from the BAPS London Children’s Forum with the BAPS Community Care Team based at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, visited two elderly residential homes in the Brent borough of London. Care for the elderly is a very important part of BAPS’ on-going community outreach programme, and this event also helped inculcate the values of respect and consideration in its younger members.
Children with the supervision of adult Team members visited two elderly care homes, The Mayfield and Carlton House, meeting and interacting with a total of 41 residents of various ethnic origins.
The children sang devotional songs and performed a traditional Indian cultural dance. The residents thoroughly enjoyed the performance and enthusiastically joined in the fun by clapping and playing musical instruments.
After the performance, the children had a chance to interact with the residents individually. This was an opportunity for the children to bridge the generation gap and implement communication skills they had been taught at the Mandir in their Children’s Forum classes. The children, some of whom were participating for the first time, clearly found it a very rewarding and enjoyable learning experience. Meanwhile, supervisors of the BAPS Community Care Team observed the residents’ needs for personal interaction and noted how they could better train the children to meet those needs.
All of the elderly residents were very appreciative of the young for taking time out on a Saturday afternoon to visit them. For many like Saida Kazmi (78), who very rarely ventures outdoors, the visit became the highlight of the week. Carers were also very grateful to the children for lifting their residents’ spirits.
The BAPS Community Care Team has since been invited by the homes to make the visit a regular event.
A summary report of other care homes visited over the years is provided.
On Saturday 29 March 2008, the Victim Support Unit for Brent – a charity organisation – ran an Anti-Bullying Workshop for young children to promote awareness of bullying in all areas of their lives. The event produced a good turnout, with almost 100 boys and around 60 girls aged 10-14 attending the two separate workshops.
Bullying occurs in playgrounds, in the classroom, at home, on the internet, at the bus stop, in undergrounds/alleyways in various forms as the children quite rightly pointed out to the presenters and is one of the most raised issues affecting children.
The boys’ workshop started off with an ice breaker in which Patrick Jacobs, from Victim Support, got the participants to prove the common cause for most bullying occurring. He explained that everyone is different in their own way but that does not give a reason to discriminate against one another. This kicked the workshop off in great fashion which then led onto asking the boys about the what’s, who’s, where’s and other knowledge in regards to bullying. There was a rush of hands enforcing the fact that the children were familiar about bullying, and one by one the balaks answered all the questions. Patrick delivered the workshop interactively in such a subtle and appreciative manner that the children willingly opened up to reveal circumstances that they had faced and experienced.
The girls’ workshop followed the same presentation as the boys’ workshop. As well as going through what bullying is, where it happens and what the main types are, role play scenarios were carried out in which girls performed to the audience their perceptions on bullying as well as concentrating on how the victim can stop this happening to them. An analysis of the ways in which bullying can be stopped was carried out. Emma and her colleague Verinder, from Victim Support, effectively presented the workshop which instilled confidence in the girls’ approach to bullying.
The workshops proved to be a real eye opener for the children. When invited, many got up of their own accord to share their personal experiences of being a victim of bullying. The other children seated in the audience were amazed to see that their fellow children had been victims of bullying. The presenter dealt with each child carefully and made sure that their situation was or is being resolved and instructed them that if they were being bullied, then they should immediately talk to someone responsible who could do something about it.
The presenters put the children in the shoes of the victim and asked them how they would feel. The majority of the responses were that they would feel upset, angry or frustrated. Therefore this exercise hit the children hard emotionally and drove home the thought of thinking twice before bullying someone.
The workshop concluded with a short exercise, where each child complimented their neighbour sitting next to them proving that there is always something good to say about everybody followed by a question and answer session, in which the children received direct answers to their searching questions which were based around bullying solutions or getting help where the presenters clearly identified that confiding in parents or mentors with whom they felt most comfortable with as the best contacts.
The feedback responses from the children expressed that this workshop hit hard the truth, whilst some explained that the sessions made them understand better how to tackle issues of bullying. They wished that these workshops had happened a lot earlier in time, whilst some were not even aware that gossiping badly about someone also amounted to bullying! The fun-packed but quite serious workshop lit some light bulbs within the children and certainly increased their awareness on bullying.
BAPS UK’s Ladies Wing participated in an event entitled ‘Capital Woman’ organised by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, to celebrate International Women’s Day on Saturday 8 March 2008 at the Queen Elizabeth II Exhibition Centre and Central Hall. After an opening plenary with the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and a range of guest speakers, the day offering women a chance to have a say in the way the Capital – London – is run and in the issues that affect them. The day featured a stimulating programme of exhibitions, non-traditional careers and business advice and workshops as well as music, fashion, comedy and dance. Over 4000 women of all ages, cultures, races and religions braved a cold Saturday to attend this exciting event.
This year, for the first time, the women of BAPS were invited to be part of this event by hosting a traditional Indian dance performance and workshop in the marketplace area of the Central Hall. Over 30 BAPS volunteers participated in the vibrant and fun filled dances and workshops, which ran hourly. The underlying theme for the workshop was “BAPS Empowering Women” and a specially produced leaflet celebrating the achievements of the BAPS Women’s Wing was distributed to highlight this. The overall atmosphere was colourful and lively, and a variety of women from all backgrounds were able to observe and participate in this demonstration of Indian culture.
In addition, the event covered a wide range of topics related to housing, the environment, equal opportunities, health, childcare, transport, careers, education and crime which proved to be very informative for everyone. Capital Woman and the BAPS Dance Group workshops were a huge success and provided an excellent platform for empowering women.
Thursday 6 March 2008 saw the auspicious celebration of ‘Maha-Shivratri’ at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London. The day began with the sacred and traditional abhishek of the Shivalinga performed by the sadhus.
The ice Shivalinga on display in the Haveli entrance evoked memories of Amarnath in India where a natural ice Shivalinga exists.
Throughout the day, devotees and visitors had the opportunity to offer bili-patra and perform abhishek of the Shivalingam. A beautiful Annakut was offered as well, in which many varieties of ‘falahar’ items were offered at the shrines of Ghanshyam Maharaj and Shiv-Parvati.
On Saturday 1 March, London Mahila Mandal gathered to celebrate a special Parents’ Day at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London. The inspirational event was celebrated as ‘Matru-Devo Bhava’ and included a colourful cultural programme centred on the Vedic sentiments of revering one’s mother as one reveres God.
The programme commenced with Vedic shlokas recited by young girls, followed by a beautiful dance – “Swikari lyo… ame balak chhiye tamara…”. Amongst the other highlights of the evening, teenagers presented the difficulties that arise in modern society that affect the relationship between mother and daughter especially when a girl leaves home for university. Young mothers presented a question and answer session between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law to highlight the need of building a bond between the entire family.
The evening highlighted Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s message of love, mutual trust and effective communication as essential tools in a successful parent-child relationship.
On Sunday 2 March, the London Children’s Forum also celebrated a similarly themed event with mothers and daughters enjoyed a beautiful colourful cultural programme.
On the basis of the 2007 Achievement and Attainment Tables for Key Stage 4 published on 10 January 2008, The Swaminarayan School was confirmed as the fourth best independent school in the latest GCSE league tables published by the Government. The rankings, determined by the average points score per pupil which in turn is based on points awarded for each grade classification, illustrates the exceptional performance by teachers and students at the school founded by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 1992.
The school was one of only 107 schools in England in which 100% of the pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 achieved the Level 2 threshold – equivalent to five GCSEs at grade C or above, including in English and Maths – and amongst the top 20 achievers across England based on the average student score.
The results are also supported by the school’s extensive contribution to community activities. As a result of the social and charitable work that the pupils have become involved with, they are equipped with the moral and social values as well as academic excellence to build successful future careers for a better society.
Congratulations to the pupils and staff of The Swaminarayan School for being amongst the top performing independent schools in the country.
Top 10 Independent Schools
SCHOOL % A-C POINTS Perse School for Girls, Cambridge 100 604.9 Marist Senior School, Ascot 100 594.8 St Helen and St Katharine, Abingdon 100 581.3 The Swaminarayan School, London 100 576.4 Westminster School, London 100 568.1 Old Palace School of John Whitgift, Croydon 100 553.7 University College School, London 100 544.2 The Abbey School Reading, Reading 100 540.1 City of London Freemen’s School, Ashtead 100 539.4 Croydon High School, South Croydon 100 535.9
% A-C: The percentage of pupils gaining five A*-C GCSE grades including in English and Maths.
Points: The total GCSE points score divided by number of pupils.
GCSE points are calculated as follows:
A* = 58 points; A = 52; B = 46; C = 40; D = 34; E = 28; F = 22
To see the complete list of league tables, click here.
Disclaimer: BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.