News and Events

Hindu New Year Celebrations
Saturday 6 November 2010

The morning of Saturday 6 November 2010 heralded the Hindu New Year, Samvat 2067.

Following the joyous Diwali celebrations the night before, devotees and visitors arrived at the Mandir continuously from early morning to offer their prayers and seek blessings.

The first ceremony of the New Year was held at 5.30am, followed by prayers for world peace and well-being.

The Annakut – the ceremonial offering of food to the Deities – followed at midday, first in the sanctum in the main mandir and then in the Haveli assembly hall. More than 1,200 dishes of sweets, savouries, curries, pickles, salads, desserts, soups, juices, and various other items representing cuisine from around the world had been lovingly and artistically arranged before the Deities. The Annakut – literally, ‘mountain of food’ – is a devout offering of the first meal of the New Year in thanksgiving to God for His providence over the past year and to seek His blessings for the year ahead.

The main ceremonial Rajbhog Arti (ritual offering) was performed at noon. As guests and visitors passed by to observe the Annakut and offer their prayers and thanksgiving, they took part in the arti ceremony every half hour.

During his short New Year’s address at midday, Head Sadhu of the Mandir, Sadhu Yogvivekdas, read out His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s personal blessings for the people of the UK. His Holiness wrote that he was praying for everyone’s health and well-being, and for the light of spirituality to dispel inner darkness and guide us through difficult times.

Chief Guest for the auspicious occasion was The High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Mr Nalin Surie. In his brief address, he expressed his honour at being invited to the Mandir and performing the first arti of the Annakut. He further commented, “You have demonstrated through your hard work, your perseverance and the manner in which you have conducted yourselves in this country that India is a land with old traditions, an old civilisation, yet it is a country that can combine tradition with modernity and demonstrate that without losing our values, our culture, we can be in the mainstream of modernity – that is what you have demonstrated, that is what India is demonstrating, and this is our contribution to the world.”

This year, devotees and visitors were able to offer their personal prayers and messages for the New Year through the ‘Share a Prayer’ initiative. Volunteers engaged with visitors as they flowed along for darshan, helping them type and digitally convey festive messages to friends and family which were then relayed on the large screens in the assembly hall and throughout the complex. Over 1,600 messages were received.

In addition to the celebrations in London, Annakut was celebrated at all major BAPS mandirs and centres across the UK & Europe. Please click here.

High Commissioner of India Celebrates Hindu New Year
Saturday 6 November 2010

The High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Mr Nalin Surie, visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London – popularly known as the ‘Neasden Temple’ – with his wife, Mrs Poonam Surie, during the Hindu New Year celebrations on Saturday 6 November 2010. They joined thousands of others as Mr Surie was invited to perform the main ceremonial Rajbhog Arti of the Annakut offering.

The Annakut – literally, ‘a mountain of food’ – is a devout offering of the first meal of the New Year in thanksgiving to God. More than 1,200 dishes of sweets, savouries, curries, pickles, salads, desserts, soups, juices, and various other items representing cuisine from around the world had been lovingly and artistically arranged before the Deities. The Annakut celebrations at the mandir in Neasden have been recognised as one of the largest of its kind in the world.

After performing the Arti in the sanctum sanctorum in the stone mandir, the delegation moved to the assembly hall where they joined again in the ritual offering and Arti.

Mr Surie was then officially welcomed with a traditional garland by Head Sadhu of the Mandir, Sadhu Yogvivekdas. Mrs Surie was duly welcomed by BAPS senior volunteer Mrs Saroj Patel.

In his address to the assembly, Mr Surie firstly conveyed his Diwali and New Year greetings to everyone before saying: “It is a matter of great honour for my wife and me to be invited here today, to perform the first Arti in this year’s Annakut. Thank you for honouring us in this manner.”

His Excellency then went on to say: “I would like to use this occasion to thank [BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha] for the yeoman work that they are doing, not only in propagating the Indian tradition, Indian culture, Indian religion, but also the social service that they are doing, and most importantly, the school [The Swaminarayan School]…. I believe that it is one of the finest schools in the country.

I have no doubt that it will soon be the finest school in the country. “Ladies and gentlemen, I must tell you how proud we are of our community in the United Kingdom. You have demonstrated through your hard work, your perseverance, and the manner in which you have conducted yourselves in this country that India is a land with old traditions – an old civilisation – yet it is a country that can combine tradition with modernity and demonstrate that, without losing our values, our culture, we can be in the mainstream of modernity. That is what you have demonstrated, that is what India is demonstrating, and this is our contribution to the world.”

This year, devotees and visitors to the Mandir were able to offer their personal prayers and messages for the New Year through the ‘Share a Prayer’ digital service. Mr Surie wrote:

May the new year bring to all of you good health, peace, prosperity and the blessings of Lord Krishna. Nalin Surie (Indian High Commissioner)

Before departing, Mr Surie also visited some of the 1,200 volunteers involved in ensuring a pleasant and enriching experience for the tens of thousands who enjoy the festival every year. His Excellency expressed his admiration of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj for being able to inspire and mobilise so many young people in such positive causes.

For a full report with photographs of the Hindu New Year Celebrations, please click here.

For the report and photographs of the Diwali Celebrations, please click here.

Diwali Celebrations
Friday 5 November 2010

Diwali – one of the most auspicious occasions in the Hindu calendar – was celebrated with great devotion and splendour at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, on Friday 5 November 2010.

It is traditionally the day when business owners close existing account books and open new ones in preparation for the year ahead. The ceremony – called Sharada Pujan or Chopda Pujan – is also a time to take stock of one’s spiritual relationship with God. Diwali also signifies a time when charity, goodwill, family values and the love of God are celebrated and reinforced.

Devotees and well-wishers gathered in the Haveli Prayer Hall for the Chopda Pujan ceremony, which commenced at 6.00pm. Hundreds of new account books – in a variety of paper and electronic forms – were blessed through the showering of flowers petals and rice grains amid the chanting of Vedic hymns and prayers. In the short assembly which followed, Yogvivek Swami read out Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Diwali message and blessings before photos were shown from Gondal, India, where Pramukh Swami Maharaj had celebrated Diwali a few hours earlier. (Click here for a full report of these Diwali celebrations.)

Invited guests for the evening included Cllr Ann John OBE (Leader of Brent Council), Cllr Muhammed Butt (Deputy Leader of Brent Council), Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala (Councillor for Stonebridge), Cllr Paul Lorber (Councillor for Sudbury), and Navin Shah (GLA Representative for Brent & Harrow).

The highlight of the evening for both young and the elderly was the spectacular fireworks display. Thousands of spectators, including families and local residents, braved the downpour as they were enthralled by the colourful 20-minute display that illuminated the November night skies.

As the crowds dispersed, the volunteers continued their preparations for the following day’s New Year Annakut.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London Awarded First Prize in ‘Brent in Bloom’ Competition – Again
Thursday 21 October 2010

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, has been awarded first prize in the category of Business/Public Premises in the ‘Brent in Bloom’ competition in 2010 – for the second consecutive year.

‘Brent in Bloom’ is an annual competition that provides an opportunity for the local community to exhibit their gardening skills and aims to make the borough more attractive for residents and visitors alike. It has seven categories with marks awarded for colour, design, quality of plants, and cleanliness. The competition also acts as the first heat in the ‘In Bloom’ campaign, which leads to the regional heat, ‘London in Bloom’, and then the national award, ‘Britain in Bloom’.

Judges visited entries across Greater London in July to cast their professional eye over the efforts of the communities to decide the winners in each category. The Mandir was selected as the best Business/Public Premises in Brent, and was acknowledged with a special discretionary award which is presented to community groups, local authorities, businesses, and individuals who have achieved excellence in a specific category.

Hansa H. Patel, landscape designer and manager of the small garden surrounding the Mandir, expressed, “It’s wonderful to be acknowledged for our gardens for the second year running. I think it shows how much it means to us to make our borough greener and more beautiful for everyone.”

The Mandir’s garden is just one more endeavour in BAPS’s continued commitment to working towards a greener, safer environment. Recent initiatives have included observing World Earth Hour and the launch of a Green Travel Plan.

This latest award also reiterates the Mandir’s positive impact for the local community. After receiving the ‘Pride of Place’ award in 2007, it has also recently been voted to represent the Borough of Brent in the 2012 Olympic Games Pin Badge campaign.

For a report of last year’s ‘Brent in Bloom’ award, please click here.

Welsh Commonwealth Games Team Visits BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London
Friday 24 September 2010

The Welsh Commonwealth Games team visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Friday 24 September 2010. The team managers had already visited the Mandir in July and were keen for the athletes to experience the serenity and spiritual ambience of the Mandir. The visit followed that of Team England during the Community Open Days on the weekend of 11 and 12 September 2010.

The Welsh team were scheduled to fly out to India on the same day. However, they departed from their Cardiff headquarters early in order to fit in the Mandir tour. The team of 26 athletes and managers all took part in the abhishek ceremony and enjoyed the darshan of the murtis. After a brief team meeting, their tour finished with traditional snacks and refreshments.

Team manager Mike Delaney expressed his joy by saying, “Every time we have come to the temple, we have received wonderful hospitality and the opportunity to grace a most beautiful building of God. All of us will visit the Akshardham Temple [situated opposite the Commenwealth Village] during or after the games.”

‘Falls in the Elderly’ Seminar
Sunday 19 September 2010

BAPS Charities organised a special seminar at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Sunday 19 September 2010 to address the welfare of elderly people. Dr Binita Jani (Consultant Physician, Medicine for the Elderly at Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College NHS Trust) and Mrs Nipa Shah (Senior Ocuupational Therapist, Central Middlesex Hospital) provided expert advice and guidance.

The aim of the session was to raise awareness of common problems affecting older people and to promote well-being within the community. Elderly citizens within ethnic minority groups are typically unaware of when and how to access help and services.

The elderly population is increasing and this programme complements the national government initiative of promoting health, independence and primary prevention within our older population.

The talks highlighted that falls are common, reiterated the importance of seeking help early, and explained the roles of different healthcare professionals involved in falls assessment. Attendees also had the opportunity to ask questions and received leaflets containing useful information.

Details of the talks can be downloaded here.

International Day of Peace and International Year of Youth Observed
Sunday 19 September 2010

The International Day of Peace, observed each year on 21 September, is a global call for ceasefire and non-violence. This year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on young people around the world to take a stand for peace under the theme ‘Youth for Peace and Development’. It combined two very important events being observed by the United Nations, to which BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is internationally affiliated.

Background

International Day of Peace: In 1982, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring an International Day of Peace. In 2001, the General Assembly adopted 21 September as the permanent date for this annual event. The Day is envisioned to provide “an opportunity for individuals, organisations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date.”

International Year of Youth: In December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution year commencing 12 August 2010 as the International Year of Youth. The resolution calls upon governments, civil society, individuals and communities worldwide to support activities at local and international levels to mark the event by encouraging youths to organise activities that promote an increased understanding of the importance and benefits of youth participation in all aspects of society, as well as those that support youth to devote their energy, enthusiasm and creativity to development and the promotion of mutual understanding.

Observance at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London

Observing both of these international events, BAPS youth volunteers planned and delivered a special programme dedicated to peace as part of the evening assembly at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Sunday 19 September 2010.

The session opened with a video presentation poignantly asking whether conflict and war could indeed be stopped for just one moment, to which three children responded by melodiously reciting the Vedic Shanti Path – a universal Hindu prayer for peace, harmony and happiness.

The bhajan, ‘Saunu Karo Kalyan,’ eloquently sung by youths, further conveyed a prayer for peace for all civilisations in the world.

Shreeman Patel developed this theme in a short but touching and thought-provoking speech. Shreeman had recently won first prize in the Youth Category at the national Rotary ‘Youth Speaks 2010’ competition.

Spiritual organisations have been encouraged to promote ‘meditation for peace’ as part of the Peace Day events and thus the audience joined together to meditate for a few minutes.

On 29 August 2000, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj addressed the Millennium World Peace Summit at the United Nations in New York. Brief highlights of his speech – entitled ‘A Call to Dialogue: Our Collective Responsibility’ – were presented to conclude the inspiring programme.

To learn more about the UN’s International Day of Peace and the ‘Youth for Peace and Development’ initiative, please click here.

To learn more about the UN’s International Year of Youth, please click here.

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

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London features once again in Open House London
Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 September 2010

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London featured once again as a part of the annual Open House London architecture festival held this year during the weekend of 18-19 September 2010.

Visitors to the Mandir and the Haveli appreciated the beauty, serenity and spirituality of the traditional place of worship as well as the friendly welcome offered by the volunteers and guides.

More than 1,300 visitors streamed through the gates over the weekend amid the glorious late summer weather. They were warmly welcomed with traditional Indian hospitality and after admiring the intricate carvings and beautifully adorned sacred images, were guided around the ‘Understanding Hinduism’ exhibition and the gardens. A video presentation on the history and construction of the Mandir provided an informative and educational experience. Many also chose to attend the midday arti ceremony.

Some of the visitors browsed through the souvenir shop which houses a wide selection of books and educational publications, and stopped for lunch at the Shayona restaurant, sampling a selection of delicious Indian vegetarian food.

The Open House London initiative is a “simple but powerful concept: hundreds of great buildings of all types and periods open up their doors to all free of charge.” More than 700 landmarks were available for visitors to explore as part of the campaign.

A variety of interested visitors – from architects and other professionals to families and individual students – expressed their thoughts upon visiting the Mandir:

A breathtaking place where one can experience peace and happiness.
AJ (Tourist visiting London from USA)

A truly remarkable learning experience of Indian architecture and the Hindu faith.
Ms P (Teacher)

The Mandir is a beautiful building infused with a feeling of deep spirituality and peace. Our guide was exceptionally informative and entertaining.
NN (Interior Designer)

To describe it as a beautifully spiritual place would be too simplistic; words fail me. I am glad that it is in Brent. Thank you for allowing me to visit. I am blessed.
OF (Editor)

Beautiful building with strong & peaceful energy. And a lovely gift shop. It was a great visit. Thank you.
BT (Artist )

Beautiful environment and wonderful guide with explanation of how the building was built and use of it. Thank you.
HM ( Architect)

Very impressive and very informative which increased my knowledge and understanding of both the culture and Hindu religion.
A (Accountant)

The mandir is extremely beautiful and the exhibition is informative. Thank you.
MR (Designer)

A beautiful building and a fascinating story of community engagement. We were very well directed on arrival and the introductory video and presentation provided a good overview.
AC (Journalist)

Amazed. Who knew that such a building existed in North London? (And I have lived in North London all my life!) I would like to come back during one of the festivals.
Y (Student)

This building is still amazing 15 years later. The craftworks are phenomenal. The gentleman in the temple was very informative.
Dr J (Doctor)

I am filled with joy. The beauty of the Mandir overwhelms me. I shall strive to lead a better life.
OW (Retailer)

I had an amazing and very peaceful experience and I walk away from your beautiful temple with a rekindled positive attitude to life.
MS (Teacher)

A sacred space and activates the heart peaceful. Thank you for sharing this space.
L (Light worker)

Open House London is an initiative of Open-City, the capital’s architecture organisation also dedicated to “research, training, advice and campaigns that impact the whole city.”

To learn more about Open House London, please click here.

To learn more about Open-City, please click here.

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

Health Awareness and Screening Community Open Days
Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 September 2010

To mark its fifteenth anniversary, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London organised Community Open Days on the weekend of Saturday 11 September and Sunday 12 September 2010. Many members of the public as well as guests visited the Mandir. On the Saturday, the Mandir also welcomed the athletes and members of Team England – who will take part in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi this October.

BAPS Charities also participated in this event by providing information and screening free of charge for all guests and visitors. Included in the display stands was useful material and guidance from many charities that BAPS has worked with in recent years – the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK, National Blood Transfusion, Breast Cancer Care, Barnardo’s and The Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research.

This event continued the regular medical screenings and talks that are organised by BAPS Charities where charities and trained medical professionals have provided their expertise. Medical screening was provided by The Royal Free Hospital where 120 people were tested and responded with positive feedback on the organisation and value of the programme. As part of National Cholesterol Week commencing on 13 September 2010, blood cholesterol screening was also performed with appropriate advice provided to those with high risk factors for heart disease.

Shilpa Patel of the NHS Blood Transfusion Service expressed her gratitude for enabling new donors to register. “I am pleased to inform you that we enrolled 53 new donors. These donors will be invited to sessions that are close to their home address in order that they may begin donating as soon as possible.”

The event provided BAPS Charities with an opportunity to continue its health awareness initiatives as well as to support various local and national charities.

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

Commonwealth Athletes attend Community Open Days
Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 September 2010
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To mark its fifteenth anniversary, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London organised Community Open Days on the weekend of Saturday 11 September and Sunday 12 September 2010. Many members of the public as well as guests visited the Mandir. On the Saturday, the Mandir also welcomed the athletes and members of Team England – who will take part in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi this October.

The opening ceremony took place on Saturday 11 September at 12 noon in the presence of Brent’s Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Matt Gardner and the Commonwealth team.

The members of Team England were pleased to meet volunteers at the Mandir as well as members of the community. Youths from the Mandir guided them and explained the various youth and sporting activities that are promoted at the Mandir. Former Olympic Javelin gold medalist Tessa Sanderson CBE also came to visit with the group.

Christine Ohuruogu, current Olympic and Commonwealth 400m Gold Medallist commented, “I saw some amazing monuments in China [during the Beijing Olympics] – but the Temple is the most beautiful building I have seen.”

The event was based on the theme of “One World – One Community” and proved to be inspiring and fun for all. The activities available throughout the weekend included blood donation awareness, free health screening, guided tours, interactive informative exhibits as well as delicious food stalls. The interactive exhibits consisted of eight zones covering art, values, volunteering, festivals, welfare, music and lifestyle whilst promoting the ‘International Year of Youth’ initiative led by the United Nations.

Natalie – who lives in the vicinity of the temple neighbourhood – expressed her views on this occasion: “I have been living here for the last fifteen years… The Community Open Days brought me and my son to this temple, where we spent four hours seeing the beautiful complex and learning about the community work that it does and feel that these four hours were one of the best moments we have experienced.”

Yogen Shah, one of the many volunteers at the Mandir added, “We are very happy to welcome members of the wider community to our Mandir to give them all an opportunity to participate in the various activities in this, our fifteenth anniversary of the Mandir.”

Janmashtami Celebrations
Thursday 2 September 2010

The birth of Bhagwan Shri Krishna was celebrated with great devotion at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, on Thursday 2 September 2010. The day, traditionally known as Janmashtami, began with a grand Annakut offered to the deities in the Mandir, where guests and devotees arrived throughout the day for darshan.

The evening assembly was held inside the Haveli, where the programme began with dhun and bhajans extolling the glory of Shri Krishna. Yogvivek Swami, head sadhu of the Mandir, continued by narrating insightful episodes from the life of Shri Krishna. A colourful dance to ‘Bawa Nand Tane Darbar’ followed thereafter, artistically celebrating his birth.

The finale of the evening – marking the birth of Shri Krishna – was celebrated with the arti followed by the swinging of the ‘paranu’ (birth-cradle) by all the devotees, with the traditional devotional singing of ‘Sona-na bol jhule Nand-kishore’

Exceptional results for third successive year for GCSE & AS Level Hinduism Course
August 2010

Young students of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK have achieved another exceptional set of results for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in Hinduism.

BAPS has been running the course for three years and this year’s results have continued the high standards set in the previous two years, with a 100% success rate in both units as all students achieved either grades A*, A or B, with none being awarded grades lower than B. In addition, three students sat the AS Level in Hinduism, also achieving similar grades.

Notably, of the 44 students who sat the GCSE examinations, 17 scored 95% and above, with 89% coming in the top A* to A band (compared to 19% nationally).

Special congratulations go to Nirav Amin and Mayur Patel who achieved 100% in Unit M; and Kush Depala, Krupa Dodhia, Khushboo Miyani, Tilak Parekh, Priyesh Patel and Hershini Soneji who achieved 100% in Unit F. Additionally, Kirtan Patel achieved 100% in AS Level Unit 2.

Congratulations to all the students on an excellent year of study all round. Congratulations also to their parents for their continued support, and to the dedicated team of BAPS volunteer-teachers who made it all possible.

BAPS Charities Presents £25,000 Cheque to Barnardo’s BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London
Saturday 31 July 2010

BAPS Charities, UK presented a cheque for £25,000 to Barnardo’s at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 31 July 2010.

Mr Geoffrey Barnett, OBE (Chair of Council) and Mr Errol John (Head of Operations – London and East of England) were on hand to receive the cheque on behalf of Barnardo’s – one of the UK’s leading children’s charities.

The money had been raised over two Sundays in April when over 3,500 people at 15 BAPS centres around the UK took the BAPS Charities 10k Challenge. The participants had walked, jogged or ran 10 kilometres to raise funds for children and various other worthy causes.

In his address during the special cheque presentation ceremony at the Mandir, Mr Barnett expressed his gratitude for “the wonderful generosity and support” of BAPS Charities and remarked how he was “full of inspiring impressions of so much that happens here.” In particular, he noted how much both Barnardo’s and BAPS owe to their dedicated volunteer force, and that “we share a common vision; we believe in children.”

Mr Barnett went on to explain that the money raised by BAPS Charities would go towards helping support children with severe learning and educational difficulties. He said: “What you have done for us this year, through the 10k Challenge, is to enable us in this next 12 months to support and work with 139 disabled children that we would not otherwise been able to help, and I am really grateful to you all.”

Kamlesh Patel, lead volunteer for BAPS Charities, remarked: “It’s so gratifying and humbling to know that we have been able to help so many needy children who can go on to lead fuller, more meaningful lives.”

For a full report and photos of the BAPS Charities 10k Challenge, please click here.

To lean more about Barnardo’s work for disadvantaged children, visit their website here.

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

 

Hindola Utsav (Swing Festival)
27 July to 26 August 2010

The Hindola Utsav – or Swing Festival – is celebrated from Ashadh vad 1 to Shravan vad 2 of the Indian Calendar, falling this year between 27 July and 26 August 2010. Various decorated swings are created in which the sacred image of God is gently and lovingly swung by the devotees.

Installing God on the swing is symbolic of installing Him in one’s heart. The gentle pulling of the swing symbolises the devotee’s efforts to please God and bring Him closer to oneself.

This year at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London – as at all Swaminarayan mandirs worldwide – swings based on various themes have been devoutly created by the volunteers. Below is a selection of this year’s swings (more to be added during the month).

The Swaminarayan Prep School Achieves Exceptional Key Stage Two Results
July 2010

Further to the outstanding inspection report, results for the SATs (Standard Assessment Tests or Key Stage 2 tests taken at Year 6) at The Swaminarayan Prep School, London have once again been of an exceptionally high standard this year. All students achieved Level 4 and above, with 75% of students recording a Level 5 (the top score available) in English and a remarkable 86% achieving this in Mathematics. The overall results have improved for the third consecutive year – placing the School at the top among Brent’s 51 primary schools as well as very high nationally in the top percentile of National Exam results.

The results are testimony to the commitment and dedication of the teachers, parents and governors of the School, and the tremendous efforts of the students themselves. Congratulations to everyone for this outstanding achievement.

The Swaminarayan School was founded in 1991 by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj to provide education along the lines of independent British schools, whilst reinforcing Hindu culture and tradition. The first eighty or so Prep School pupils were admitted in September 1992 and the Senior School took its first intake the following September. There are now over 460 pupils in the school.

The Prep School’s academic excellence merges seamlessly with the school’s ethos and aims to provide a holistic education. Extra-curricular subjects such as public speaking, movie making, chess, hockey, tag rugby, tennis and drama along with lessons in performing arts, philosophy for children and LAMDA all ensure that pupils who attend the Swaminarayan Prep School are well-rounded and build the foundations for a successful academic career.

For more information on the School, please click here.

For details of The Swaminarayan School’s second position in the league table of independent schools, please click here.

For information on The Swaminarayan School being recognised as a “Thinking School” by Cognitive Education Centre, University of Exeter, please click here.

For more information on the Ofsted report, please click here.

Over 3,500 take part in the BAPS Charities 10k Challenge
Sunday 18 April 2010

More than 3,500 people around the country took to the streets and parks on Sunday 18 April 2010 for the BAPS Charities 10k Challenge to raise funds for children and other worthy causes.

BAPS Charities, UK held this year’s event in conjunction with the UK’s leading children’s charity Barnardo’s as well as several smaller charities around the country. It brought together members of the community from a wide variety of backgrounds and ages – ranging from three to over 90 – to walk, jog or run a distance of 10 kilometres. Some of the younger participants dressed as clowns and teamed up with partners to complete the distance three-legged, while others attended in fancy dress.

In London, the BAPS Charities 10k Challenge kicked off amid glorious spring sunshine from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden in the presence of distinguished guests, including the CEO of Barnardo’s Martin Narey and Barnardo’s ambassador and popular TV actress Nina Wadia. Also present at the opening ceremony were Mayor of the London Borough of Brent Cllr Jim O’Sullivan, Deputy Mayoress of the London Borough of Brent Mrs O’Sullivan, Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Harrow Cllr Chris Mote, Deputy Mayoress of the London Borough of Harrow Cllr Janet Mote, PPC Sarah Teather, PPC Dawn Butler, PPC Barry Gardiner, PPC Tony McNulty, PPC Harshad Patel, Cllr Anjana Patel, Cllr Mohammed Butt, Cllr Kanta Mistry, Cllr Harbhajan Singh, Cllr Yogesh Teli, Cllr Zafar Van Kalwala, and Ajay Patel of Goldshield, the major sponsor of the event.

In his address, Mr Narey emphasised the importance of the partnership with BAPS Charities, saying, “The support from you and this partnership is absolutely essential to our work. I really look forward to this partnership being one of the most important in the history of Barnardo’s.”.

Tony McNulty added, “Children are at the heart of what BAPS Charities does and this makes an ideal link with Barnardo’s.”

Noting the great sense of community spirit in the participants, Sarah Teather said, “BAPS Charities is a fantastic organisation, and what is so amazing today is to see the range of ages of people setting off to walk and run. It is a fantastic example to the rest of Britain to see what is happening here at the Mandir today.”

Dawn Butler further added, “I have seen how BAPS Charities approach what they do and how organised they are. When you see the smiles on the faces of young children, they know what they are doing. They are not just going on a walk, but they know why they are going on the walk and what it means.”

Barry Gardiner also commended the charity arm of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, saying, “The key thing is vision and BAPS Charities has that in abundance. With BAPS Charities, you have the volunteering base to make sure always that there is maximum value for the financial resources that are put in.”

Having evolved from the annual ‘Sponsored Family Walk & Fun Run’ to the ‘10k Challenge’, one of the younger participants, Maya Patel (15) of Birmingham, spoke of how enjoyable her day had been. She said, “We always have fun, but this year gave us the chance to be adventurous. We were able to dress up and have our faces painted, which also helped us to raise even more for charity. And with the sun shining, we couldn’t have hoped for a better day.”

The Challenge commenced in London from the Mandir and included two circuits of the scenic King Edward VII Park in Wembley, where bouncy castles had also been set up for the children. It became a fun-filled day for all the family, with refreshments and snacks available throughout the stewarded route.

The BAPS Charities 10k Challenge was completed in a total of 15 centres around the UK, many supporting charities at the local level as well. These included:

Ashton-Under-Lyne: Tameside Blind Association (Charity No: 504603)

Birmingham: Birmingham Children’s Hospital c/o Red Balloon Appeal (Charity No: 1074850)

Coventry: Tiny Tim’s Children’s Centre (Charity No: 1095737)

Edinburgh: Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living

Glasgow: Yorkhill Children Foundation

Havant: The Elizabeth Foundation (Charity No: 293835)

Leicester: Leicester Hospitals Charity – Children’s Oncology Department at Ward 27, Leicester Royal Infirmary (Charity No: 1056804)

Loughborough: The Mayor’s Appeal (Wishes 4 Kids & Warning Zone)

Luton: Keech Hospice Care (Charity No: 1035089)

Milton Keynes: Milton Keynes Hospital – Little Lives Appeal (Charity No: 1048297)

Nottingham: Crocus Fields

Preston: The Mayor of Preston’s Charity of the Year – Northwest Air Ambulance (Charity No: 1075641)

Southend-on-Sea: Southend Hospital – Neptune Ward for Children (Charity No: 1057266)

Wellingborough: Kettering General Hospital (Charity No: 1052467)

To learn more about Barnardo’s and their great work, please visit their site here.

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

Sarah Brown Attends Women’s Conference at Neasden Temple
Sunday 11 April 2010

Sarah Brown was Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker at the International Women’s Day conference hosted at London’s famous Neasden Temple (officially known as BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir) on Sunday 11 April 2010.

The conference was hosted by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) – a UN-affiliated socio-spiritual Hindu charity – in observance of International Women’s Day 2010 as the culmination of a month-long nationwide initiative. The two-day conference, entitled Celebrating Women: Past, Present & Future, aimed to celebrate the achievements of women and inspire them to fulfil their potential.

Mrs Brown arrived at the temple at 10.15am and was greeted in traditional Hindu manner with a flower garland and the tying of an auspicious thread around her wrist signifying friendship and goodwill. After touring the temple – or ‘mandir’, as it is called in the ancient Sanskrit language – and paying her respects in the inner sanctum, the Prime Minster’s wife entered the assembly hall to rapturous applause.

After being introduced by local Labour MP Dawn Butler, Mrs Brown began her keynote address by saying: “It is indeed such an honour to be here at this truly stunning temple. I can entirely understand why it is often referred to as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, but I suspect what keeps thousands and thousands of people coming back here is not just how beautiful a building it is, but the warmth of the welcome and the compassion of the community.”

Mrs Brown went on to share her experiences of meeting inspiring women around the world, adding: “The women who have made the deepest impression on me are the people who show the determination to help others.”

As Patron of White Ribbon Alliance (WRA), the charity campaigning for safe motherhood, Mrs Brown reiterated the sad plight of mothers and young babies in developing nations. She was pleased to learn that BAPS had promoted the work of WRA to the delegates over the two days.

Drawing upon the conference’s theme, Mrs Brown emphasised the crucial role women play in our modern society, and chose to “focus on the future, as the needs there are so urgent”, urging the delegates to have the “courage to dream about a better future and then set out to make that future come true.”

Other sessions of the weekend conference included seminars, interactive workshops, demonstrations, panel discussions, and a musical production performed by a cast of over 140 women.

Other distinguished women presenters at the conference included: Mei Sim Lai Peters OBE (Deputy Lieutenant, London Borough of Brent); Mira Kaushik OBE (Director, Akademi South Asian Dance UK); Denise Milani (Director, Diversity & Citizen Focus, Metropolitan Police Service); Prof. Neena Modi (Professor of Neonatal Medicine and Honorary Consultant, Imperial College, London); Nishma Gosrani (Management Consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers); Nina Amin (Tax Partner, KPMG); Kate Hall (Civil Engineer and Director, Arup Designers in charge of Olympic Park); Azmina Govindji (award-winning celebrity dietician); and Jaymini Patel (Director, Brahma Kumari Publications).

Full details and photos of the women’s conference are available from here.