News and Events

Exceptional GCSE results at The Swaminarayan School
August 2009

The Swaminarayan School has consistently produced outstanding results at GCSE level and this year’s results have again been of an exceptionally high standard. Just like last year, a full 100% of all students who sat the exams achieved five A* to C grades and 97.5% of grades across the range of subjects were within this band; nationally, 67.1% of all pupils met this level of attainment. Additionally, 54% of all results were in the A* and A band (compared to 21.6% nationally), with this increasing to 85.9% for the A*, A and B band.

Congratulations to all the students for these excellent results. We wish them the best for their A Levels and future academic careers. A special note of gratitude to the teachers, parents and governors of the School for their continued efforts and commitment to building upon its strengths year upon year.

Particular recognition to the following outstanding achievers:

GCSE Hinduism Course Achieves 100% Result Second Year Running
August 2009

In January 2008, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK, began certified GCSE Hinduism classes for 33 children. The course, comprising of two units – Unit M on ‘Hinduism’ and Unit F on ‘Religion and life based on a study of Hinduism’ – with five sections in each unit, is accredited by Edexcel, the UK’s largest awarding body offering academic and vocational qualifications to learning centres in the UK and internationally.

We were delighted that a full 100% of all students who sat the exam in the first year achieved grades ranging from A* to C (the GCSE board considers grades D and E as passes, too), compared to 73% nationally.

The results for this year were just as exceptional. Again, there was a 100% success rate in both units as all students achieved grades A* to C. Of these, over 83% were in the top A* and A band for Unit M and 84% for Unit F, whereas less than one-third (32.7%) of students achieved the same standard in the subject nationally. Notably, 15 students scored 95% and above, with special congratulations to Meera Patel who achieved 99% in Unit F and Hershini Soneji who similarly achieved 99% in Unit M.

Congratulations to all the students on an excellent year of study all round. Congratulations also to their parents for their loving support, and to the course teacher Mr Laljibhai Ladwa and his dedicated team of support-teachers who made it all possible.

A cohort of 35 new students has already begun Unit M classes in preparation for their exam in June 2010, bringing the total number of children currently studying towards a GCSE in Hinduism to 65. 

Disclaimer: BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Hindolã Utsav (Swing Festival)
8 July - 7 August 2009

From Ashadh Vad 2 to Shravan Vad 2 of the Indian Calendar (Wednesday 8 July 2009 – Friday 7 August 2009), the Hindolã Festival is celebrated. Various decorated swings are created in which the image of God is gently swung with love by the devotees.

Seating God on the swing (hindolo) is symbolic of installing Him in one’s heart. The gentle pulling of the swing symbolises the aspirant’s efforts to please God and bring Him closer to oneself.

This year at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden – as at all Swaminarayan mandirs worldwide – swings based on various themes have been created with devotion by volunteers.

Launch of Social Cooking Project in Conjunction with the British Heart Foundation
Saturday 20 June 2009

As a part of its ongoing health awareness campaign, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK (BAPS), launched a new project in conjunction with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) on Saturday 20 June 2009 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. Called ‘Social Cooking’, the aim of this project is to encourage communities to use recipes that are healthier, specifically by being lower in salt and saturated fat content. The project also aims to provide information on the impact of excessive salt and fat on health and offer guidance on how to change shopping, cooking and eating habits at home – while still enjoying tasty traditional meals.

Peter Hollins, Chief Executive of BHF, was present to launch the project. In his short but informative address, he discussed the project’s scope and significance, confirming that South Asians in the UK are highly vulnerable to cardiovascular disease. A healthy diet is a major factor in preventing heart disease, and the BHF was delighted to be working with religious communities like BAPS to provide practical help in encouraging healthy eating habits. He was confident that this would yield direct and widespread benefits.

DID YOU KNOW? South Asians living in the UK are 50% more likely to die prematurely from heart disease compared to the population overall.

Mr Hollins also noted that BAPS and BHF already enjoy a close working relationship, citing previous awareness-raising presentations, CPR training sessions, and a successful fundraising campaign through the 2007 National Sponsored Walk.

Also present was Stephen Airey of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the government body set up to protect the public’s health and consumer interests in relation to food. Mr Airey presented some startling facts about the nation’s deteriorating health and the toll this is taking on the national budget.

DID YOU KNOW? 2/3 of adults and 1/3 of children are currently overweight or obese. If unchanged, by 2050 those figures could rise to 9/10 for adults and 2/3 for children – costing approximately £50 billion a year!

Already, an estimated 3,500 premature deaths from heart disease each year cost £1 billion. 

In response, the FSA has launched the Saturated Fat and Energy Intake Programme. Mr Airey, head of the programme, explained its main areas of focus and shared some useful tips for the home – such as grating cheese rather than using it as slices in cooking.

Qaim Zaidi, Ethnic Strategy Coordinator for the BHF, also emphasised the importance of the project for people of South Asian origin and working in partnership with active communities like BAPS.

Dr Mayank Shah, head of BAPS’s Health Services in the UK, added: “This is a great opportunity for us to share with the local community a vital message that can not only save lives and impact families, but also potentially save millions of pounds for the government. Working with the BHF and FSA, we hope to provide a supportive environment whereby people can make those all-important lifestyle changes for the better.”

Click on the following links to learn more about the BHF’s South Asian Social Cooking Project and the FSA’s Saturated Fat and Energy Intake Programme.

For reliable and practical help on healthy eating, visit the government’s eatwell site here.

Disclaimer: BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

World Environment Day with Launch of new Environmental Awareness Drive
Friday 5 & Saturday 6 June 2009

Every year, 5 June is celebrated by millions internationally as World Environment Day (WED). Established in 1972 by the United Nations, WED is one of the principal vehicles through which the UN raises worldwide awareness for the environment and enhances action.

As an affiliate of the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha celebrated World Environment Day in the UK with the launch of its new Environmental Awareness drive. It began with a small exhibition in the Mandir’s foyer reprised from last year’s Hindu New Year celebrations, which were themed Go Veg… Go Green…. The display includes informative posters, take-home flyers, and a short video presentation explaining the hugely positive impact of a vegetarian diet on the environment.

The major thrust of the launch came on Saturday 6 June when a multimedia presentation was used to increase awareness and promote positive action to protect the environment. Following on the UN’s theme for WED 2009 – ‘Your Planet Needs You: UNite to Combat Climate Change’ – the presentation emphasised our collective responsibility in making simple but impactful lifestyle changes to help care for our deteriorating planet.

The presentation opened with a hard-hitting video detailing the devastating effects of continued neglect of the environment and the abuse of the earth’s finite and precious resources.

This was followed by a discourse elucidating the Hindu ethos of care and compassion for Mother Nature as enshrined in the ancient Hindu scriptures, such as the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. Citing also from the Vachanamrut and quoting Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the speakers touched upon a number of important issues to inspire respect for Nature and a way of life which promotes peaceful, sustainable coexistence with all of God’s creation.

The presentation concluded with a call to make five small but significant changes by which every household can contribute to saving the planet. These were: 

Installing energy-saving light bulbs 

Using efficient methods to recharge mobile phones 

Stopping wastage of water 

Recycling and reusing various materials 

Reducing electricity consumption by switching off appliances when not in use 

DID YOU KNOW: If everyone in the UK installed just one energy-saving light bulb, we would save enough CO2 to fill the Royal Albert Hall over 1,900 times!

The launch achieved an important objective in raising awareness and providing practical guidelines for corrective action. BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK will continue its work through this on-going initiative at all its mandirs and centres throughout the UK over the coming months.

To learn more about the five steps mentioned above – the first of many more sets to come – and how they not only help save the planet but also save you money.

To learn more about the UN’s World Environment Day, click here.

Disclaimer: BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

BAPS Children’s Forum Receives Prestigious Queen’s Award
Tuesday 2 June 2009

The Children’s Forum of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK (BAPS), based at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, has been announced as one of 95 volunteering groups from across the country – and only one of two in London – winning this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The Award recognises the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups voluntarily devoting their time for the benefit of others.

The prestigious national honour, equivalent to the MBE, sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering with the activities of awardees judged as being of the very highest standard.

The BAPS Children’s Forum, serving in the UK for over 30 years, has received the Award for its exceptional community work of integrating value-based educational, social, environmental and recreational activities into one cohesive programme and successfully implementing it through a team of hundreds of dedicated volunteers. The programme aims to help children of today mature into responsible British citizens of tomorrow.

Winners of this year’s Award were selected from 406 groups nominated by members of the public who have been helped personally or witnessed the benefits of a group’s work in their community.

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK, will receive a certificate signed by the Queen and an exclusive commemorative crystal. These will be presented by Her Majesty’s representative for Greater London, Sir David Brewer, at a special ceremony arranged by the Lieutenancy Office. Group representatives have also received an invitation to a Royal Garden Party event at Buckingham Palace in the summer.

Speaking of their success, Devan Parekh from BAPS Children’s Forum said, “Children and young people are at the heart of our organisation and it is a great honour and immensely humbling to receive this prestigious award for the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who are committed to nurturing leaders and better citizens of tomorrow.”

The Award is overseen by the Office of the Third Sector, in the Cabinet Office. Kevin Brennan, Minister for the Third Sector, said, “Volunteering binds communities together and builds a stronger and kinder society. Often these unsung heroes go about their work without much recognition, that’s why I’m particularly pleased to see their efforts recognised and rewarded by the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was created by Her Majesty to mark the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002. For further details of the Award, please click here.

Reports of recent activities involving BAPS Children’s Forum can be found at the links below:

For a brief introduction of the Children’s Forum activities, click here.

Disclaimer: BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

BAPS UK supports the London’s Air Ambulance Service
Saturday 9 May 2009

The CEO of the London’s Air Ambulance Service, Mr. Andrew Cameron visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 9 May 2009. The London’s Air Ambulance Service began in 1989 and is based at the Royal London Hospital. Since its inception, 21,000 flights have been completed to attend various incidents.

The Air Ambulance is a helicopter service that provides patients the best opportunities of survival, delivering pre-hospital care by equipping itself with an experienced trauma doctor and paramedic to the scene of serious incidents in the Greater London area stretching the M25 orbital motorway.

The London’s Air Ambulance Team has been involved in all major London incidents, including train accidents and terror attacks. The Service also provides support for incidents including major road traffic collisions, stabbings, shootings, falls from height, falls under trains, damage to brain or spine and penetrating injuries.

The Service also runs rapid response cars when the helicopter is offline: at night, whilst being serviced and during bad weather. The Service relies on donations and BAPS UK presented Mr. Cameron with a cheque for £1,001 to support the Air Ambulance Service continue its good work in helping to save lives. This donation is part of BAPS UK’s continued commitment to support organisations serving the needs of the local community and London as a whole.

Mr. Cameron expressed his gratitude and sincere thanks to BAPS for their valuable contribution to the Service.

For further information on the London’s Air Ambulance Service, please visit their website:London’s Air Ambulance

Swaminarayan Jayanti & Rama Navmi Celebrations
Friday 3 & Saturday 4 April 2009

The festivals of Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi were celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion on Friday 3 April 2009 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. To mark this auspicious occasion, a grand variety of food was offered to the deities, and at 12 noon, the sadhus performed a special arti to commemorate the birth of Shri Ramchandraji.

Worshippers were able to rock the cradle of Shri Ramchandraji and were given the opportunity of offering abhishek to the sacred image of Nilkanth Varni (Bhagwan Swaminarayan) in the evening.

In the evening assembly, sadhus and youths performed a wonderful Kirtan Bhakti programme, extolling the life and virtues of Bhagwan Swaminarayan through devotional singing and discourses. The grand assembly culminated in the celebrations of the birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan at precisely 10:10pm.

Swaminarayan Jayanti was also celebrated on the evening of Saturday 4 April 2009 with an enlightening programme entitled ‘Shri-Harina Parivartan’ which illustrated different episodes from the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and how he had transformed the lives of various people.

Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s ‘Yash Gatha’ was performed by youths, interspersed with a dance by young children illustrating the childhood of Ghanshyam, a powerful speech and clips from Mystic India to portray his teenage years as Nilkanth Varni, and an entertaining drama recalling the life of Sagram Vaghri.

Yogvivek Swami concluded the festival by explaining the manner in which Bhagwan Swaminarayan changed the nature of so many people, and how his principles and values should be preserved today.

The Mahila Mandal celebrated the birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan on Saturday 28 March 2009 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden in the presence of Harikrishna Maharaj. The theme was based on the thirteen extraordinary qualities (asadharan lakshans) of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. The event focussed on four of these qualities, which were analysed and explained in detail. These lakshans were then mapped with those of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.  One of the highlights of the event was a presentation by shishus aged between three and six years who, for the first time, recited quotations from the Vachanamrut.

In addition to the celebrations at London Mandir, Shri Swaminarayan Jayanti and Ram Navmi were also celebrated at various mandirs and centres across the UK and Europe .

Swaminarayan Jayanti & Rama Navmi Celebrations at BAPS Mandirs and Centres across the UK & Europe
April 2009

In addition to the celebrations at London Mandir, Shri Swaminarayan Jayanti and Ram Navmi were celebrated at various mandirs and centres across the UK.

Shri Swaminarayan Jayanti and Ram Navmi were celebrated with great enthusiasm at the Soni Samaj Centre in Leicester on Saturday 4 April 2009. A short kirtan bhakti programme was performed before a youth delivered a speech illustrating the six objectives of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s birth on earth. Vishwaprakash Swami discussed the manner in which Bhagwan Swaminarayan transformed the evil nature of countless souls and Shukmuni Swami emphasised the importance of building a chaitanya mandir within one’s heart.

The celebrations in Birmingham were held on the morning of Sunday 5 April 2009 with great pomp and fervour at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Birmingham. The theme of the programme was entitled ‘Janam Sudharyo re’, where dramas depicting a selection of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s foremost sadhus and haribhaktos, and the manner in which their lives were transformed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan were enacted. Vishwaprakash Swami and Shukmuni Swami explained the glory of Shri Ram Bhagwan and Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

Southend-on-Sea celebrated Shri Swaminarayan Jayanti and Ram Navmi during the evening of Sunday 5 April 2009 at Sweyne Park School in Essex. Shukmuni Swami eloquently sang verses from the ‘Swaminarayan Charitmanas’, which were described in detail by Vishwaprakash Swami. Yogvivek Swami explained how some of the messages and characters from the Ramayan inspire an ideal way of living.

The celebrations in Lisbon were held on Sunday 5 April 2009.

The celebrations in West London and Paris were held on Tuesday 7 April 2009.

Coventry centre also celebrated the festival on Sunday 12 April 2009

Earth Hour
Saturday 28 March 2009

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London joined major landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House and local neighbour Wembley Stadium in joining Earth Hour 2009 at 8.30pm on Saturday 28 March, as homes, office towers across the globe and more than 1,000 cities in over 80 countries turned off their lights for an hour starting at 8.30pm local time to raise awareness about climate change and the threat from rising greenhouse gas emissions. Earth Hour is a global WWF climate change initiative.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights.

For more information on Earth Hour, please visit:

Disclaimer: BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, accompanied by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, visited The Swaminarayan School, London, on the afternoon of Wednesday 4 March 2009 to celebrate the Hindu festival of Holi. The festival of Holi celebrates the arrival of Spring where people celebrate the changing season and the beauty associated with Spring blossoms by spraying colour.

Their Royal Highnesses (TRH) arrived at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, situated opposite the School, shortly after 1.00pm to pay their respects to the deities in the mandir and were greeted by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Mei Sim Lai and then introduced to the Mayor of Brent, Cllr. Ralph Fox. Their Royal Highnesses were then introduced to the Chair of the Board of Trustees – Mr Jitu Patel and other trustees.

The head sadhu of the mandir, Yogvivek Swami, welcomed His Royal Highness in the traditional manner with a chandlo and nada chadhi before garlanding him. Senior ladies of the Women’s Wing simultaneously welcomed Her Royal Highness.

The Prince then proceeded to the sanctum sanctorum, escorted by Yogvivek Swami and Jitu Patel where he offered flower petals at the central shrine. The Duchess led by Mrs Pooja Patel, National Coordinator of Youth Activities for the Women’s Wing, also offered flower petals at the central shrine. TRH spent a few moments absorbing the serene atmosphere and beautiful intricate architecture of the mandir.

Having paid their respects, TRH then walked through the ceremonial gates of the Mandir to the School, where they were introduced to Mr Savjani – the Headteacher, Mr Piyush Amin – the Chair of Governors, Mr Nilesh Manani – head of Senior School and Mr Umesh Raja – head of Prep School.

TRH then made their way to a Performing Arts classroom to hear traditional Indian musical instruments being played. His Royal Highness also participated by trying his hand at a small Indian drum. When TRH visited the Reception Year class in the Prep School, they sat down at each desk with the children and thoroughly immersed themselves in the Holi-themed activities ranging from making daffodil garlands to painting to storytelling.

TRH continued their tour of the School to the Senior School where they visited an arts class and viewed various Holi-based art exhibits.

The final section of the visit was held at the school’s sports hall, where the royal couple were welcomed with garlands by the Head Girl and Head Boy of the Prep School. TRH observed children playing Holi in the traditional manner by throwing coloured powder and spraying each other with water. The pupils were showered with flower petals by TRH as a symbolic gesture of their having taken part in the festival.

Following a Holi dance depicting the advent of Spring, TRH were presented with mementos by the Head Girl and Head Boy of the Senior School before bidding farewell. En route to their car, TRH were offered numerous bouquets of flowers by pupils and parents. TRH stopped to speak to many of the children and parents before departing.

Mr Savjani was very touched by TRH. He said, “It was so wonderful and an honour to have HRH Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall at the school to celebrate the Holi festival. TRH enjoyed every bit of the visit, especially the music and dance. They were impressed by the School’s exceptional performance in the results’ league tables in recent years and the fact that the children study 12 GCSEs and that the parents are so supportive.”

Mr Piyush Amin too was honoured by the visit, “It was a pleasure to show TRH firsthand the curriculum set out for the students. They were impressed by the way in which culture and values are included in studies. Yet at the same time, non-Hindu festivals are also celebrated.”

Related Links:

Report of the visit on HRH The Prince of Wales’s website

Photographs of the visit on HRH The Prince of Wales’s website

Video of the visit on HRH The Prince of Wales’s website

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall Celebrate Diwali at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London – Friday 9 November 2007

HRH The Prince Of Wales, Prince Charles launches the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s “Sponsor-A-Home Scheme” at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London – Monday 5 March 2001

HRH The Prince Of Wales, Prince Charles visits BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London – Wednesday 28 February 1996

Disclaimer: BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

National Family Seminars (Parivar Sammelan) ‘Nurturing Happy Families’
March 2009

As the 21st century advances, families struggle to find happiness together with so many issues to contend with. One look in society tells us that there is a shortage of happy families with many challenges at home and with youngsters.

The theme of this year’s Family Seminars (Parivar Sammelan) was ‘Nurturing Happy Families’. As part of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s ‘International Family Year’, every member of the family from young to old was encouraged to attend. The Seminar kicked off with Yogvivek Swami and children performing the lighting of the lamp (Deep Pragatya). Thereafter Yogvivek Swami explained the purpose of the Seminar and read Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s blessings for the Seminar.

“From the Swamini Vato and the life of Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj, one can learn how to practise Satsang and perform one’s duties so that one can experience peace continually. Therefore, the more we engage in reading these books and strengthen our Satsang and also contemplate on the way in which the gurus lived their lives, then when we face challenges in our lives, we will also experience happiness and be able to lead a successful life; our children will also become happy through this same inspiration.”

The Seminar educated families through speeches, presentations, interviews, videos and interactive sessions based upon the Seminar theme – ‘The family that sits together, plays together, works together and prays together is the family that stays together.’ The Seminar started with a ‘Family Time – Ghar Sabha’ speech which focused on misconceptions of Ghar Sabha and managing time. The first session ‘Sitting Together’ talked about overcoming communication barriers among family members. For the two sessions ‘Working Together’ and ‘Praying Together’, each mandal had their own sessions to present according to their age group. For two sessions, the families sat together. One of the sessions ‘Playing Together’ was a challenging team building project. The project involved the family making a bridge from newspapers and sellotape, with prizes awarded for the best three. The other was a ‘Family Workshop’ where the family together performed arti and ashtak and also spent some time in discussion to develop a family action plan.

The Seminar ended with the last session ‘Staying Together’ with a concluding speech by Yogvivek Swami. The families left with a strong commitment to do Ghar Sabha (Family Evening Time) initially twice a week.

For several months, sadhus and volunteers had planned the Seminars in detail. The event lasted from 10.00am to 7.00pm with refreshments and meals provided. Seminars were held at four venues with a total of 428 families (1694 people) attending: 

a) Leicester – Saturday 7 March 2009 (126 families)

b) Ashton – Sunday 8 March 2009 (84 families)

c) London – Saturday 21 March 2009 (96 families)

d) London – Sunday 22 March 2009 (122 families)

The seminars were thoroughly enjoyed by all. Some of the comments by the participants were:

“Need every six months boost up! Superb!” – Bhaskarbhai Patel (Leicester)

“Fantastic opportunity and one that can bring benefit to the family as a whole.” – Mike Foster (Leicester)

“Well done! A well planned seminar reflecting the real need of families.” – Nirali Mehta (London)

“Excellent, had fun!” – Kevalben (Birmingham)

“Chance to learn how to bring the family closer together.” – John Birkenhead (Preston)

“We should have these seminars more than once a year.” – Karishma Desai (London)

“Excellent start, good humour, valuable insights and teachings.” – Peter Hill (Ashton-U-Lyne)

“Brilliant, will come again next year.” – Jasmin Patel (London)

“This seminar gave us more ideas on how to make our ghar sabha more interesting and also how to include children more in religious activities.”

Tuberculosis Awareness Lecture by Dr. Rob Davidson
Saturday 14 February 2009

Dr Rob Davidson, a consultant physician since 1992 in Infectious Disease at Northwick Park Hospital was invited to raise awareness about tuberculosis (TB) at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on Saturday 14 February 2009. Dr Davidson qualified in South Africa and trained in the UK. He has participated in many research projects into the diagnosis and treatment of TB, and is an expert in this area.

His talk highlighted several points. TB is the term used for the infection “tuberculosis”. This is an infection due to the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is caught by breathing in the TB bacterium from people already infected with TB. There is no shame in getting TB, since it is only caught by the simple act of breathing. It is usually caught by being in regular contact (eg a shared household) of someone with TB, since the bacterium needs to be inhaled more than just once. The symptoms of TB include developing a persistent cough, which does not settle after 2 weeks, and occasionally coughing up blood.

Rates of TB have risen recently and especially in Brent and Harrow. Increased awareness and recognition of the symptoms are important. Early detection means early treatment and fewer complications.

Low levels of vitamin D in vegetarian Asians may also contribute to the risk of developing TB. Vitamin D is not found in the vegetarian diet in any appreciable amount, and for many Asians, the only method of getting enough vitamin D is from the sun.

TB is an easy infection to diagnose, and an easy infection to treat. It can have devastating consequences if not caught early.

For further information:

Tuberculosis – the disease, its treatment and prevention (English)

Tuberculosis – the disease, its treatment and prevention (Gujarati)

Disclaimer: BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Family Kite Flying Day
Sunday 18 January 2009

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, celebrated the Hindu festival of Uttarayan as a fun day of kite flying for all the family on Sunday 18 January 2009. The chilly but clear skies above The Swaminarayan School grounds filled with thousands of colourful kites as over 500 people gathered to join in the celebrations.

For many, it was joyfully reminiscent of days in India, particularly Gujarat, where kite flying is a hugely popular part of Uttarayan. The day, usually falling on 14 January every year, marks the beginning of the sun’s journey towards the northern hemisphere (in Sanskrit, uttara means ‘north’, and yana means ‘journey’) indicating the retreat of winter. It is traditionally believed that the kites are a way to welcome the celestial beings who have awoken after their winter hibernation.

The event proved a great success in bringing together young and old and sharing a part of Indian culture in a fun and colourful way. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the kites – as well as the delicious hot food – and many were reluctant to leave. As one young kite-flier remarked: “I didn’t know kite flying was this much fun. I can’t wait ‘til next year.”

Other BAPS centres also held similar events across the UK.

Seminar on ‘How to Cope with the Credit Crunch’
Saturday 3 January 2009

The international financial crisis has dominated the world’s news in recent months with increasingly worrying statistics and stories creating a sense of panic for many families and business owners. At the heart of the discussion is the topic of the ‘Credit Crunch’ – a new buzzphrase of our times. To address the true meaning, significance and impact of the economic downturn on the community at large, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK (BAPS), organised a special seminar on the evening of Saturday 3 January 2009 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London. The aim was to provide a professional insight into the matter and to address the concerns of the people.

Raj Soneji and Aroon Rana, lead volunteers of BAPS’s professional services unit, organised the event inviting two experts from the financial industry to offer their analysis. Vinay Pattni, a Corporate Relationship Manager with Barclays Bank, and Nimish Patel, a Chartered Accountant and licensed insolvency practitioner, provided insightful, informative and practical guidance through a series of presentations and interactive discussions.

Vinay Pattni placed into perspective the number of people that are directly affected by the Credit Crunch, and explained the historical factors behind the bubble that was created and the reasons why it burst. He provided a valuable commentary on the effects of the current financial situation for individuals, households and businesses.

Nimish Patel provided guidance for personal borrowers and those who may be facing financial troubles. One underlying message that he reiterated was the importance of communication between borrowers and lenders to discuss problems and find solutions. Mr Patel also shared several survival tips and stressed the importance of remaining optimistic in difficult times and seeking opportunity amid adversity.

Over 450 individuals benefitted from the seminar with many appreciating the refreshing simplicity with which the two speakers explained technical financial concepts. One soon-to-be father later said, “You read about it all the time in the papers and [hear it] on the news, but to have someone there actually explain how it affects you makes all the difference.” Another attendee, who helps run a small family business, also shared why she found the seminar useful: “It’s far clearer now what we don’t need to worry about and what we should be focussing on more carefully.”

The presenters in turn appreciated the response of the audience and the opportunity to share their expertise. Mr Pattni later commented, “I believe the audience really appreciated the opportunity to gain this perspective and received the presentations with their renowned grace and good humour. [BAPS] should be commended for recognising the needs of the community and arranging this seminar. I thoroughly enjoyed the event and meeting so many people.” Mr Patel added that he, too, found the experience “rewarding and a pleasure” and was touched by the feedback which “emphasises just how important this topic is for a lot of people at the present time.”

The seminar was a part of the ongoing services provided by BAPS to its members and the local community in the UK. As Raj, himself a long-serving Chartered Certified Accountant, explained, “We’re always on the lookout to see how we can help. The important thing is to make sure the services we provide are timely and relevant to people’s needs here, now and for the future. … The current financial crisis has affected everybody in some way and we hope that the seminar has highlighted what this ominous phrase – the ‘Credit Crunch’ – really means and how all of us can address our personal and business finances to cope with it.”