News and Events

‘Welfare for the Elderly’ Seminar for St Luke’s Hospice
Sunday 25 November 2012

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London hosted a seminar on Sunday 25 November 2012 entitled ‘Welfare for the Elderly’ where St Luke’s Hospice, the local hospice for the boroughs of Harrow and Brent, provided information about the services that it offers for the elderly. 

Welfare for the elderly is an important concern for the Mandir, who recently invited residents from Birchwood Grange Nursing Home for a special event in October.

Chandni Shah, a volunteer community ambassador from St Luke’s Hospice, explained how a hospice helps patients with cancer. Specific services offered at St Luke’s, which are all free of charge, were outlined in detail, including the way in which the hospice cares for people whose illnesses are no longer curable, enabling them to achieve the best possible quality of life during the final stages of their illness.  

Ms Shah outlined that patients are looked after in the In-Patient Unit, Out-Patient Clinic, and Day Care Unit, as well as in their own homes through the Hospice at Home and Community Palliative Care Teams. 

The session provided some important information and answered a number of questions about the hospice. Delegates commented on how “useful and informative” the session was, and expressed that they were “very pleased to learn about the extent of care offered by a hospice.” 

To learn more about the work of St Luke’s Hospice, please click here

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

Participating in National Interfaith Week
Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 November 2012

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London participated in National Interfaith Week by partnering with St Mary’s Church in Willesden to raise money for local charities on Saturday 24 November 2012 and also by holding an interfaith seminar at The Swaminarayan School, situated opposite the Mandir, on Sunday 25 November 2012. 

Interfaith Week is an annual event that takes place across the UK in November which fosters good relationships and working partnerships between people and organisations of different faiths and beliefs.

The three aims of the Week are:

  • Strengthening good interfaith relations at all levels
  • Increasing awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society
  • Increasing understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs

Representatives from the Mandir joined St Mary’s Church in Willesden to welcome Mayor of Brent Cllr Michael Adeyeye to the Christmas bazaar. Volunteers from the Mandir provided Indian vegetarian snacks at the bazaar to raise funds for local charities. The Mandir also donated tickets for London Panorama, an open-top bus sightseeing tour. Father Andrew Hammond of the Church commented that he was “delighted to work with and have the support of BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir on this occasion.” 

The seminar, titled ‘The Role of Hindu Women in Ancient and Contemporary Times’, was delivered by Anuradha Dooney (Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies) and Binal Somani (graduate student of History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London). The enlightening talks included the accounts of devout Hindu women of the past and also a discussion on how British Hindu women practise their faith in the twenty-first century. 

Representatives from various faith communities were invited to the seminar and enjoyed learning about the important and inspiring role that Hindu women have played in ancient times and continue to play today. 

In sharing his experiences from both events, Nitin Palan, Interfaith Coordinator for BAPS in the UK, said: “Reaching out, sharing and learning from our brothers and sisters of other faiths is a way of life for us and can be hugely rewarding. It is something that is deeply in tune with the guiding values of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.” 

For further information about National Interfaith Week, please click here

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

Neasden Temple Lights Up in Blue for World Diabetes Day
Wednesday 14 November 2012

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London was illuminated in blue on the evening of Wednesday 14 November 2012 in support of World Diabetes Day. 

The Mandir joined iconic landmarks, monuments and buildings all over the world in the official blue colour as part of the international campaign to raise awareness about diabetes. 

Did You Know: Over 220 million people worldwide, including 2.9 million in the UK, suffer from diabetes. – World Health Organization 

Held annually on 14 November – marking the birthday of Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin in 1922 – the official United Nations observance coincided this year with the beginning of the Hindu New Year. 

Representatives from Diabetes UK were at the Mandir throughout the day providing information as tens of thousands of visitors flocked for the Hindu New Year celebrations

Rebecca Taylor, Diverse Communities Information Administrator at Diabetes UK, spoke of the “excellent opportunity to meet the community” and wished to “encourage all those celebrating the Hindu New Year to take a resolution to think about the effect of diabetes on the individual.” 

Rebecca also shared that “it is a real honour that the temple decided to light up in blue and support the campaign.” 

The Mandir has enjoyed a long-running relationship with Diabetes UK, partnering with it in 2008 when it raised £24,000 from its National Sponsored Family Walk & Fun Run. Diabetes UK has also featured with stalls and information booths during a number of community outreach events over the years. In September of this year, a Diabetes Care Programme was launched at the Mandir in an additional effort to raise awareness and educate the public. 

Support for World Diabetes Day was also registered at other BAPS mandirs around the world, including at Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi

To learn more about World Diabetes Day, please click here

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

Hindu New Year Celebrations
Wednesday 14 November 2012

The Hindu New Year (Samvat 2069) was devoutly heralded on the morning of Wednesday 14 November 2012 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. 

Following the joyous Diwali celebrations of 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 upper 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 an 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 joined in the arti ceremony every half-hour. 

Satyavrat Swami, senior sadhu at the Mandir, reiterated the Diwali message from the Prime Minister David Cameron and also read a letter from His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj conveying his blessings to everyone. 

Guest of Honour for the auspicious occasion was the High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Dr J. Bhagwati. In his brief address to the gathering he shared that he “felt blessed to be here [at the Mandir] at a time to reinforce light over darkness which transcends all religions.” He also expressed on behalf of the Indian High Commission how “proud they are of the achievements of Indian people, not only materially and intellectually but also spiritually.” 

“This hall is filled with people,” he observed, “who have the deepest thoughts of piety and of feelings for their fellow human beings. You remain moored to your spiritual and religious roots. Today is a day to reflect, to pause and to thank our parents, friends and good fortune for what we have on this planet. I would like to wish you the very, very best for the coming year.” 

As in recent years, devotees and visitors were able to offer their personal prayers and messages for the New Year through the ‘Share a Prayer’ service. 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.

£25,000-Cheque Presented to Macmillan Cancer Support
Tuesday 13 November 2012

A cheque for £25,000 was presented to Macmillan Cancer Support during the Diwali celebrations at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Tuesday 13 November 2012. 

Stephen Richards (Director for England) and Rachel Kingston (London Area Fundraising Manager) were on hand to receive the cheque on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support, one of the largest cancer charities in the country. 

The money had been raised in April 2012 when over 3,400 people participated in the BAPS Charities 10k Challenge. The participants had walked, jogged or run 10 kilometres, or cycled 30 kilometres, to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support and various other worthy causes. 

The money raised will be used to pay for four travelling cancer service units which will operate across England and Wales. Specialists from the charity will visit town centres, workplaces, places of worship and community venues such as football grounds and shopping centres to bring cancer information to people who might not seek it out by visiting their doctor. 

In his address during the presentation ceremony at the Mandir, Mr Richards expressed his gratitude for “the tremendous support” of BAPS Charities and shared more about how the money will be used. He said: “Your extremely generous donation will pay for the mobile information support centres to carry out more than 40 visits across England and Wales reaching over 3,000 people. Everyone that took part [in the Challenge] or sponsored those that did has helped to make an enormous difference to the lives of those affected by cancer.” 

Kamlesh Patel, lead volunteer for BAPS Charities, remarked: “We are delighted to be able to partner with such a worthy charity and hope that the funds can help to continue their great work and provide some comfort and hope to those who are suffering from cancer.” 

To learn more about Macmillan Cancer Support, please click here

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

Collecting Funds for Children in Need
Tuesday 13 November & Wednesday 14 November 2012

Children from BAPS Charities collected funds for the BBC’s Children in Need campaign during the Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Tuesday 13 November and Wednesday 14 November 2012. 

Children in Need is the BBC’s national charity and has raised over £600 million to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and young people in the UK. The 2012 appeal will take place on 16 November. 

Young volunteers, aged between 5 and 14 years of age, met devotees, guests and local residents during the two-day festivities where tens of thousands of people visited the Mandir to enjoy the colours and sounds of Diwali and the Hindu New Year. 

The enthusiastic children spoke of the various children’s activities held at the Mandir and encouraged visitors to donate generously. Charity is a key theme for Hindus during this festive period. 

One of the young volunteers, Avish Patel, aged 13, said, “Every year I watch the Children in Need programme and feel sad for children who are suffering. It makes me feel good to do something to help another child like me.” 

The BAPS Children’s Forum plays an active role in various initiatives organised by BAPS Charities. Equally, children’s welfare has been a recurring focus of BAPS Charities’ events over the years, most notably in 2010 when it’s Annual Challenge raised £25,000 for Barnardo’s, the country’s leading charity working for children. 

To learn more about the BBC Children in Need campaign, please click here

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

Diwali Celebrations
Tuesday 13 November 2012

Diwali – one of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar – was celebrated with great devotion and splendour at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Tuesday 13 November 2012. 

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 – also symbolises how one should take stock of one’s spiritual relationship with God. 

Hundreds of new account books – in a variety of paper and electronic forms – were sanctified through the showering of flowers petals and rice grains amid the chanting of Vedic hymns and prayers. 

A short assembly followed thereafter where Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Diwali message and blessings from India were shared. Stephen Richards and Rachel Kingston of Macmillan Cancer Support attended the evening assembly for a special cheque presentation from BAPS Charities in relation to the 10k Challenge held across the UK in April this year. 

Baroness Warsi (Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Minister for Faith and Communities) and Cllr Muhammed Butt (Leader of Brent Council) also attended the celebrations. 

Baroness Warsi expressed her delight at being at the Mandir – “what greater place to come and celebrate Diwali but at the place that is considered to be the eighth wonder of the world” – and, “on behalf of the government”, wished all the gathered devotees and well-wishers “a Shubh Deepavali and a very, very happy New Year.” 

The highlight of the evening for both young and the elderly was the spectacular fireworks display. Thousands of spectators, including families and local residents, were enthralled by the colourful 20-minute display that illuminated the skies of North London high above the Mandir domes.

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

Sunday School Receives British Academy Schools Language Award
November 2012

In December 2011, the British Academy launched a nationwide schools languages award as an initiative aimed at encouraging innovation and creativity for teaching in languages at secondary schools. Both mainstream and supplementary schools were invited to apply for the prize which was open to new and established projects that were deemed to be innovative, sustainable and replicable. 

In the first year of the competition, the British Academy received 159 applications from across the UK from which eight regional mainstream schools and seven supplementary schools were conferred the award. Of the seven supplementary schools, The BAPS Swaminarayan Sunday School, based at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, received an award for its ‘Gujarati – Learn it or Lose it’ project. 

The aim of the project was to make learning Gujarati more desirable, resulting in a greater number of children being able to read, write, speak, and understand Gujarati. The project has enabled language learning to become modern, interactive, fun and easy, employing various innovative techniques. Developed in-house using familiar card and board games, the online tools enhance learning and help to transfer classroom teaching to a home environment. The project also includes multi-session seminars to cater for children and adults from all levels, designed to encourage the whole family to increase the use of Gujarati at home. 

Pramukh Swami Maharaj has often emphasised the role of language in sustaining and transmitting religious teachings, especially through the medium of scriptural reading and listening to discourses. The BAPS Swaminarayan Sunday School is a part of that vision to help current and future generations learn and benefit from Gujarati, both at the temple and at home. 

The award ceremony took place as part of British Academy Language Week in November. Before the awards ceremony, groups browsed the exhibitions where each school had set up its own resources and tools. Several volunteers from The BAPS Swaminarayan Sunday School attended the ceremony to receive the award and share their experiences and successes with other schools. 

The British Academy Schools Languages Award is the second honour awarded to The BAPS Swaminarayan Sunday School in 2012, and one of several other awards that have been received over the last few years. Some of these awards include:

–        Gold Award for Supplementary Education, March 2012

–        Bronze Award for Supplementary Education, December 2011

–        National Award for Excellence in Language Learning (Silver Award given to
          Karishma Kumar of BAPS Children’s Forum, Brent), June 2010

–        The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, October 2009 

To learn more about the British Academy Schools Language Awards, please click here

For further enquiries about Gujarati learning at the Mandir, please email [email protected]

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

Diwali Celebrations at Houses of Parliament
Wednesday 31 October 2012

Diwali is the most important festival of the year for millions of Hindus across the world. Each year, a celebration of Diwali is held at the Houses of Parliament in London and this year marked the 11th such event. It was held on Wednesday 31 October 2012 in the Members Dining Room in the House of Commons. 

The programme was hosted by Bob Blackman MP, Lord Dholakia, Nigel Dodds MP, Lady Hermon MP, Elfyn Llwyd MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Angus Robertson MP, Virendra Sharma MP, Paul Uppal MP, and Keith Vaz MP. 

The celebrations were attended by a wide range of Hindu, Sikh and Jain organisations, including Hindu Forum of Britain, Hindu Council of UK, National Council of Hindu Temples, ISKCON, Art of Living, Oshwal Association, Sai School, Arya Samaj, Brahma Kumaris, Jalaram Temple (Leicester), Shree Wanza Community (Leicester), and many other supporting organisations. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir managed the event at the request of the hosts. 

The festivities began with the lighting of lamps, symbolic of Diwali, by the hosts and a traditional greeting from children of The Sai School in Harrow to all guests arriving at the venue. Children from the Mandir also sang Vedic prayers for peace. 

Diwali is also a time to offer one’s gratitude to God for his providence. This was marked through an Annakut – a ceremonial offering of food to God which was artistically assembled and presented. 

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Mandir, Mr Jitu Patel, addressed the gathering and spoke of his gratitude to all the parties in the House of Commons for allowing the Hindu community to celebrate the occasion of Diwali. He also passed on His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Diwali greetings to all the assembled. 

Dr Vince Cable MP (Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills; Liberal Democrats) shared in his address the reason behind the gathering. He said, “The Hindu and Sikh community in the UK contribute disproportionally to the business success of this country as well as in the professions, in learning, in culture, and increasingly in politics. It is about paying respect to that and the religious traditions that are being celebrated today.” 

Eric Pickles MP (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government; Conservative) also added: “Diwali has now become a civic event in most of our major cities…. Our country has become stronger as we can celebrate each other’s festivals rather than regarding Diwali to be only celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs.” 

Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband MP was also present on the occasion. In expressing his gratitude, he said: “It is a very important event for me to attend and come and pay my respects to you all on this festival… It is an all-party event with members from the Conservative, Liberal and Labour parties here, and it shows how we all wish to show our appreciation to the contribution of the Hindu and Sikh communities to our country.” 

Keith Vaz MP (Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee; Labour), one of the key hosts of the event, also added: “I would like to thank BAPS for organising this Diwali event in the House of Commons and Arjun Vekaria and the Hindu Forum for all their support over the years.”

Cleaning Brent Feeder Canal
Saturday 13 October 2012

Volunteers from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London and BAPS Charities teamed up with Thames21, one of the country’s leading waterway charities, to clean the local Brent Feeder Canal on Saturday 13 October 2012.

The Brent Feeder Canal began to channel water into The Grand Union Canal in 1811 to meet the increasing demand for water and runs from the River Brent, near where the Brent Reservoir is now, to the main canal in Park Royal at Waxlow Road. According to Thames21, some of London’s waterways are the most polluted in Britain.

Volunteers began by removing an array of litter from the canal, including chairs, waste timber, bottles, tins, tree branches, polythene bags, footballs, old shoes and plastic pipes. The banks of the canal were also cleaned; amongst various items found was an old television set.

Bhavik Shah, 17, one of the volunteers and a former pupil at the nearby Swaminarayan School, said, “It was a really great opportunity to do something I had been concerned about throughout my time at the school. It was great fun and I would be keen to help out in similar projects in the future.”

Vicky D’Souza, Brent Waterways Officer at Thames21, expressed, “It’s great to have the support of youths from the Mandir and BAPS Charities in helping us improve the Brent Feeder Canal for wildlife. We hope that by working together with local groups, we can encourage more people to look after their local river, and get the most out of this vital green space. The volunteers worked very hard at the event and the Canal looks so much better.”

This latest project is part of a series of on-going initiatives by the Mandir to serve the local environment and community.

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

Supporting the Deafblind
Saturday 29 September 2012

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London hosted a special presentation by Sense – the UK’s charity for people who are both deaf and blind – on the evening of Saturday 29 September 2012. 

The work of Sense is wide-reaching, from providing practical and emotional help to parents whose newborn baby has been diagnosed as deaf and blind, to supporting the growing number of people who lose their sight and hearing in older age so that they can continue to lead independent lives. 

Sunil Sheth, Chairman of Sense International, presented a video about the charity’s work in India before making a presentation about Sense’s holiday programme in the UK. Each year, Sense organises vacations for 100 deafblind children and adults who have an opportunity to enjoy a range of activities just like other boys and girls which they ordinarily would not be able to experience. These short breaks adapt to the needs of the deafblind person. 

The charity relies on volunteers from all walks of life and without them these holidays would not be possible. Each volunteer is paired with a child to support them and to ensure they have a superb holiday. Testimonies from volunteers can be seen here

Rakesh, a volunteer last year, shared, “It is funny to think how apprehensive I was about signing up to it. My Sense holiday was a fantastic experience! I’ve never worked so hard but I loved every second.” 

During the presentation, Sense also encouraged those who are able to work well in a team and have ‘stamina and a sense of humour’ to volunteer in the summer of 2013. 

To find out more about volunteering on a Sense holiday, please click here

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

Observing International Peace Day
Sunday 23 September 2012

Background
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, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date.” As the resolution specifically states: “Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.”

Since its inception, Peace Day has grown to include millions of people in all parts of the world, and each year events are organised over the week to commemorate and celebrate this idea.

Observance by BAPS in London
This year, the event was observed by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London on Sunday 23 September. The special evening assembly was inaugurated with the traditional lighting of the lamp and the choral singing of the Shanti-Paath, an ancient Vedic peace prayer.

Providing a spiritual perspective on this year’s theme of ‘Sustainable Peace’, Satyavrat Swami drew upon the words of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and explained that lasting world peace can only be achieved when inner impurities are eliminated in individuals. He cited several inspirational incidents from the life and work of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, whom former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has described as “a messenger of peace.”

A short video followed thereafter depicting Pramukh Swami Maharaj bringing peace and joy to all those around him.

Thereafter, the gathered joined in meditative chanting to pray for all fellow humans who were suffering in war-torn, conflict-stricken zones, and for the bereaved and those who had lost their lives or been injured by acts of violence or in natural disasters. A special prayer was also said for the orphaned, homeless, ailing, poor and deprived, and for those who were still reeling from the continuing economic unease.

The assembly concluded with a final statement of prayer and reflection, tying in the spirituality and message of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj for a truly lasting, meaningful end to conflict within hearts and homes and ultimately the world.

In thus observing the International Day of Peace, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha affirmed its support of a shared vision of our world at peace and in harmony, and its commitment to converting these noble aspirations into a reality – here and now for us, and for generations to come everywhere.

To learn more about the United Nations International Day of Peace, please click here

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

Visitors Enjoy ‘Open House London’
Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 September 2012

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London participated once again in Open House London, the capital’s annual festival of architecture, by welcoming hundreds of visitors over the weekend of 22-23 September 2012. 

The Mandir joined over 700 buildings, including private homes, commercial and government offices, historical sites, places of worship, educational establishments, and many others in “a celebration of all that is best about the capital’s buildings.” 

The annual event is coordinated by Open-City, an independent architecture organisation which “aims to be at the centre of creating better places – and a better city” by “champion[ing] excellence in design quality and advocating for an inclusive and informed approach to the development of our city.” 

Despite the steady rainfall over both days, a constant stream of visitors arrived in earnest to explore the Mandir and Haveli (adjoining cultural complex). 

Guided tours were on offer throughout the day where visitors learned about the making of the Mandir and the significance of its religious architecture. Guests were also able to explore the ‘Understanding Hinduism’ exhibition as a part of their visit. 

Rakesh Shah, a volunteer at the Mandir, shared: “We welcome all visitors throughout the year, but this particular event allows us to provide guests who are more interested in the architecture a deeper insight into the building and its religious role. We hope visitors could also learn a little more about what this Mandir offers to the wider community and our joy in reaching out and welcoming everyone.”

Many visitors also shared their impressions of the Mandir and the volunteers. Here are a few:

An incredibly beautiful building, which is spiritually uplifting and fills me with humility to think it was built by volunteers who carved and laid every piece of stone with love. Thank you for allowing me to experience. – Teacher, 46 

Beautiful, elegant, peaceful building. Magnificent. Truly amazing place for worship. Thank you for opening your house to us. 

It was a wonderful experience, with lots to learn. We experienced great peace during our visit. I will definitely be coming back. Thank you. – Bookseller, 40 

Magnificent! I have travelled the world but have not seen anything like this. I am a Roman Catholic but found myself praying. I will come back.

Very impressed by the Mandir & the philosophy behind the religion. A pleasant experience. – Council Administrator, 51 

I really enjoyed my first ever visit to a Hindu Temple. I have learned much and will tell all my friends and hope to return. – Town Planner, 51

Incredible building, with informative and enthusiastic people providing information & welcoming smiles. – Design Engineer, 32 

Friendly, informative, calm, peaceful, spiritual. Left me yearning for more insight of this beautiful religion and culture.  Thank you. – Businesswoman, 43

Delighted we had the opportunity to visit here today. What a beautiful temple and everyone so friendly and helpful. Thank you. – Retired Nurse, 62 

The children [guides] were lovely and knowledgeable. An impressive building. Fantastic visit. – Teacher, 26 

Calm & beautiful place. The place is a result of devotion. – HR Export Manager, 45 

To learn more about Open House London and Open-City, please follow the respective links.

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

Diabetes Care Programme Launched
Saturday 15 September 2012

A Diabetes Care programme was launched at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 15 September 2012. The programme organised by BAPS Charities in conjunction with the Royal Free Hospital of London incorporates multi-disciplinary clinics for diabetic patients with the aims of controlling diabetes, screening for complications, and providing information about medication and diet. 

Dr Vinod Patel, a consultant in Diabetes Care from the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton, Warwickshire was invited to speak about the disease at the launch. His expertise and specialist area of research is the prevention of diabetes complications, upon which he has published widely. His team has also developed a strategy which has been taught across the UK and presented in 32 countries to significantly improve the quality of patients’ lives by preventing complications of diabetes and other health conditions. 

Dr Patel presented enlightening facts about diabetes to the audience including an insight into the cause of the condition. He also emphasised the prominence of diabetes in the South Asian population and highlighted the warning symptoms. Also on offer was advice for diabetics to reduce their risk of complications. 

Information leaflets were also available after the presentation outlining the key points that were delivered. 

Dr Devi Nair, a consultant lipidologist from the Royal Free Hospital and members of her team, Dr Anjly Jain and Mr Persaud, were also present. 

BAPS Diabetes Care clinics are due to start in January 2013, and are part of an on-going initiative to raise awareness about diabetes and help people with the condition. In 2008, BAPS promoted and raised funds for Diabetes UK through its Family Walk & Fun Run, while in recent years, BAPS Charities has organised regular health screening sessions at the Mandir in which people are screened for conditions such as diabetes and offered important lifestyle advice.

‘Brent in Bloom’ Garden Award
Thursday 6 September 2012

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London has been presented with an ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ in the ‘Brent in Bloom’ garden competition for 2012. 

‘Brent in Bloom’ is an annual competition held by Brent Council recognising the local community for its gardening skills. The aim is to enhance the borough’s attractiveness for both residents and visitors and raise awareness about environmental responsibility. It forms a part of the ‘London in Bloom’ campaign, a wider initiative where boroughs, communities, residents and businesses work together to improve the environment of the capital “to make it a greener, cleaner place to live, work and visit.” This in turn is part of the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Britain in Bloom’ campaign to help “communities become better places to live.” 

Judging for the award was carried out during the month of June. Marks were awarded for colour design, quality of plants and cleanliness. 

This year’s achievement follows similar awards for the Mandir’s garden in 2009 and 2010

Hansa H. Patel, landscape designer and manager of the small garden surrounding the Mandir, expressed, “We’re humbled to receive another award for this competition, but bringing a bit of colour and joy to the area is the biggest reward. We’ve always been keen to contribute to the local community and are delighted that our garden has made such a positive impact to the environment.” 

The award affirms the Mandir’s on-going commitment to supporting a cleaner, greener environment for the local community. Recent initiatives have included observing World Environment Day and engaging in a voluntary clean-up of nearby neighbourhoods in the ‘Big Tidy Up’ project. 

To learn more about the Mandir’s garden, please click here

For further details about the London in Bloom and Britain in Bloom campaigns, please follow the respective links.

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

Paralympic Torch Welcomed to Brent
Wednesday 29 August 2012

The Paralympic Torch was welcomed to the London Borough of Brent at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden on the morning of Wednesday 29 August as part of a joyous community celebration. 

Despite the relay running two hours behind schedule, hundreds of local residents and worshippers had gathered from as early as 6am to witness this proud moment for the borough. 

The Paralympic Flame arrived in a lantern to the Mandir at around 8.25am where it was greeted by young girls and two traditional Indian drummers. They accompanied the carrier to the main steps of the Mandir as the crowd cheered and waved on. 

As the flame arrived at the top, sadhus from the Mandir chanted the Shanti Paath (an ancient Hindu peace prayer) in the presence of a sacred image of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj

Antony Eames then lit his torch from the flame and held it aloft to a rapturous round of cheers and applause. Antony was nominated for his courage and determination in overcoming the many challenges that he faced after being diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome (Sudden Death Syndrome). 

Antony Eames was accompanied by four other torchbearers – Barrie Guy, Usman Aurakzai, Simon Schofield, and Rohit Ali. 

Before Antony and his fellow relay runners jogged off with the newly-lit Paralympic Torch, the Mayor of Brent, Cllr Michael Adeyeye, and representatives from the Mandir and local community gave it a final auspicious sending off at the Mandir’s ceremonial gate. 

Also present at the ceremony were members from the Asian People’s Disability Alliance and the Ashiana Charitable Trust (who support children and young people with learning disabilities), as well as local councillors Paul Lorber, Muhammed Butt and Krupa Sheth, neighbourhood leaders Karin Jaeger and Roger Macklen, Rev. Canon Ronald Herbert from the nearby St Michael’s Vicarage, and Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North. 

Mr Gardiner observed, “It was a very special moment. We have been waiting since 6.30am and the thrill and excitement is just fantastic. I don’t think there has ever been a setting like this for an Olympic or Paralympic flame.” 

Sharing the MP’s enthusiasm was 15-year-old Nishta Parekh who was part of the welcoming group. She said: “The atmosphere was just incredible! I’m really happy to have taken part in this. The Olympics were a fantastic success for our country and I’m sure these Games will be too.” 

Natasha from nearby Wembley also remarked that it was “amazing” to see so many diverse people at the Mandir and lauded “the wonderful community spirit” it has created. 

Girish Patel, a volunteer at the Mandir as well as a Paralympic Gamesmaker and himself a former British athlete, added: “The theme of the Paralympic Torch relay is ‘Light the Way’, so we really wanted this to be a celebration where the whole community can get together and kindle the hope and aspirations so many of these inspirational athletes hold. We wish all the Paralympians the very best of luck and look forward to another amazing Olympic Games.” 

From Brent, the Torch made its way through the capital to the Olympic Park in east London where it was used to light the cauldron during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. 

To see a short video report of the event on the BBC News website, please click here

For more information about the London 2012 Paralympic Games, please click here

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

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