News and Events

Draft created on August 16, 2012 at 11:04 pm
17th Anniversary Celebrations
Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 August 2012

From its inauguration in August 1995, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London (popularly recognised as the ‘Neasden Temple’) has brought a profound sense of peace, inspiration and devotion to its community and beyond. This spirit of religiosity and service to society was celebrated on Saturday 11 August 2012 to mark the seventeenth anniversary of the Mandir’s opening. Traditionally known as a ‘patotsav’, the occasion celebrates the anniversary of the murtis (sacred images) since they were first infused with the divine presence of the deities.

The special evening programme began with devotional singing extolling the values of a mandir. This was elaborated upon further by the sadhus as they shared examples of how the Mandir has inspired young and old alike over the years.

The most memorable moments at the Mandir have been experienced in the presence of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. A video montage recounting the visits of Pramukh Swami Maharaj to London both before and since the Mandir opened revived memories for many children, youths and senior devotees.

Shrutiprakash Swami, a learned sadhu visiting from India, then drew from Hindu scriptures to explain the need for a mandir within society. He elaborated upon the spiritual benefits that a mandir offers to an individual and the wider community, particularly the peace and values that help foster positive change.

The evening also saw members of the Indian Olympic Team visit the Mandir, including Brigadier Muralidharan Raja, Chef de Mission and executive member of the Indian Olympic Association. He was joined by Ramesh Trivedi (physiotherapist), Sanjogita Soodan (medic) and Harpal Singh Bedi (press attaché) for the Indian contingent at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The assembly concluded with the key address of Narendraprasad Swami (Acharya Swami), a senior sadhu also visiting from India. He spoke further of the devotional and spiritual significance of a mandir with supporting examples from the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

The patotsav festivities continued on the morning of Sunday 12 August when sadhus performed an elaborate set of Vedic rituals in the central shrines. Devotees also participated in the abhishek (ritual bathing) of the smaller murtis. An array of sweet and savoury dishes was then offered to the deities, traditionally known as an annakut (literally, ‘mountain of food’).

Devotees and well-wishers visited the Mandir throughout the day to offer their respects and prayers.

Janmashtami Celebrations
Friday 10 August 2012

The month of Shravan in the Hindu calendar is considered to be one of the holiest of the year. It hosts many different festivals, and one of the most significant is known as Janmashtami, marking the birth of Shri Krishna Bhagwan.

The occasion was celebrated with great devotion at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Friday 10 August 2012. The day began with a ceremonial offering of food to the deities in the Mandir, where guests and devotees arrived throughout the day to pray and be blessed.

The life and teachings of Shri Krishna were presented in an enlightening programme held in the assembly hall in the evening. The festivities began with the singing of devotional songs extolling the eminence of Shri Krishna. The audience then enjoyed a short video presentation of the celebrations which had taken place in the presence of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Ahmedabad, India earlier that day.

A fascinating drama enacting an episode from the Mahabharat artistically depicted the peaceful and compassionate nature of Shri Krishna as he patiently endeavoured to avert war and broker peace among the feuding Kaurava and Pandava clans. 

Shrutiprakash Swami, a senior and learned sadhu visiting from India, then elaborated upon the inspiring and timeless spiritual messages Shri Krishna has imparted to the world.

The finale of the evening – marking the divine birth of Shri Krishna – was celebrated with the arti followed by the swinging of the ‘paranu’ (birth cradle) amid devotional singing.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Diwali is one of the most important and colourful festivals of the Hindu calendar. It is a time when charity, goodwill, family values and the love of God are celebrated and reinforced.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, hosts the largest Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations in the country. Open to one and all, the celebrations are an opportunity for the whole family to enjoy the traditions, colours and rich culture of the Hindu faith.

Traditional Indian Bells Welcome the Olympic Games
Friday 27 July 2012

Thousands of bells have rung out across the UK to mark the official start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Traditional Indian bells at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir joined Big Ben, church bells, doorbells and even bicycle bells from all over the country for a national celebratory performance.

The event was the vision of Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed as a form of ‘national sound sculpture’. Officially entitled Work No. 1197, all the bells in the UK were rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes, from 8.12am to 8.15am, on Friday 27 July, the opening day of the thirtieth Olympiad.

At the Mandir – already featuring in the official Olympic pin badge as the ‘London Landmark’ for the borough of Brent – visitors and neighbours revelled in the sonorous sound and joyous ambience created.

Lalit Patel, a volunteer at the Mandir, shared: “It felt wonderful to participate and it’s fair to say that we’re all truly excited about the coming weeks.”

Thousands of people and organisations had registered to take part in the celebration, including the National Trust, the National Theatre, the Mayor of London, the Archbishop of Westminster, and The Girl Guides Association.

Bells were also expected to be rung around the world in countries including Australia, the US, China, Botswana, and even in Antarctica.

More information about the event is available at the All The Bells website here.

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

Forthcoming Events 3

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BAPS Children’s Forum Receives Gold Award for Supplementary Education
Saturday 7 July 2012

BAPS Children’s Forum has received the Gold Award from the National Resource Centre (NRC) for its “high standards of service in providing supplementary education to the community”. Based at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, it is the first supplementary school in the London borough of Brent & Harrow to have achieved the gold standard.

This latest distinction follows The Queen’s Award presented to BAPS Children’s Forum in 2009 for its outstanding voluntary services to the community.

The NRC is a national agency operating within ContinYou, one of UK’s leading education charities. Its Policy and Delivery Manager, Pascale Vassie, was accompanied by Akhita Benjamin, Regional Strategic Advisor and Mentor for Supplementary Schools in Brent, at the award ceremony held at the Mandir on the evening of Saturday 7 July 2012.

Among its various activities, BAPS Children’s Forum organises a Sunday school to teach Gujarati, in which it has attained a 100% success rate in GCSE exams, with more than half of the students receiving a grade A or A*.

During the weekly classes, some 70 volunteers assist the 350 students. The school also strives to provide value-based education helping young people develop into responsible and respectable British citizens.

At the award ceremony, Ms Vassie shared: “The quality and range of teaching materials available to pupils and their parents was exceptional. The volunteers’ enthusiasm for the school and commitment to give back to help younger children along the path of learning was a credit to the volunteers and a clear example as to why the BAPS Children’s Forum has achieved the Gold Award.”

To learn more about ContinYou and its National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education, please follow the respective links.

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

Hindola Utsav (Festival of Swings)
Thursday 5 July to Friday 3 August 2012

In the Hindu devotional tradition, the month from Ashadh vad 2 to Shravan vad 2 of the Indian calendar is celebrated as the Hindola Utsav, or ‘Festival of Swings’. Decorated swings of various shapes and forms are created in which an image of God is lovingly rocked by the devotees.

Placing God on the swing is symbolic of instilling him in one’s heart, while the gentle pulling of the swing symbolises the aspirant’s efforts of drawing closer to him through love and obedience.

This year, the Festival of Swings ran from 5 July to 3 August 2012.

Like every year at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London – and as at all Swaminarayan mandirs worldwide – volunteers devoutly created swings based on a variety of themes. Below is a selection of this year’s swings.

Rath Yatra Celebrations
Saturday 23 June 2012

The Rath Yatra Utsav (Festival of Chariots) was celebrated in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Kothari Swami (Bhaktipriya Swami) on Saturday 23 June 2012 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.

A beautifully decorated rath (chariot) with the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan had been prepared. Following the Vedic pujan ceremony, the rath was ceremoniously pulled by hand around the Mandir complex to the singing of bhajans by sadhus and devotees.

After circling the Mandir five times, the devotees ended the festival with a devotional dance.

In the evening assembly, Kothari Swami and other visiting sadhus from India were formally welcomed to the UK and Europe on their two-week religious tour. In the concluding address, Kothari Swami elaborated upon the spiritual significance of the Rath Yatra festival.

Asthma and Breathing Difficulties Seminar
Sunday 17 June 2012

As part of its on-going health awareness drive for the elderly, BAPS Charities teamed up with the British Lung Foundation’s Breathe Easy programme in Brent to deliver a seminar on asthma and breathing difficulties at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Sunday 17 June 2012.

The event was attended by more than 40 people, many of whom were sufferers of asthma and pulmonary fibrosis.

Dr Hana Patel, a GP and volunteer for BAPS Charities, delivered a presentation focussing on the symptoms and treatment of asthma. This was followed by a discussion led by experts from Breathe Easy, a self-help group for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Both talks were very well received, providing vital information for those who had not heard of or knew very little about COPD and other lung conditions.

The seminar also helped raise awareness about the support available for COPD-sufferers from the British Lung Foundation and its Breathe Easy support group at Central Middlesex Hospital in north-west London.

To learn more about Breathe Easy Brent and the British Lung Foundation, please follow the respective links.

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

Celebrating World Environment Day
Saturday 9 June 2012

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 a presentation encouraging efficient water consumption techniques. It followed recent campaigns by English water authorities to preserve water as a result of consecutive dry winters.

The presentation took place at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London during the evening assemblies of Saturday 9 June 2012. It comprised a series of eye-opening facts about water consumption and practical tips on safely cutting back.

DID YOU KNOW: In Britain, we use an average of 150 litres of water per person per day. This is compared to 125 litres in Germany, and 110 litres in France.

To help save water and lessen the burden on the environment, devotees were encouraged to make a number of small but important lifestyle changes. These changes included:

  • Turning off the tap whilst brushing teeth
  • Making sure taps are turned off properly
  • Fixing or reporting dripping taps
  • Reducing showers to four minutes
  • Only filling the kettle with the amount of water that is required
  • Only using the washing machine with a full load
  • Installing a water butt in the garden to use when watering plants

This effort is the latest in a series of initiatives the Mandir has supported for raising environmental awareness. Recent projects include observing Earth Hour and participating in a ‘Big Tidy Up’ in the local area.

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

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

Mother and Baby Welfare Seminars
Saturday 2 June, Saturday 9 June and Saturday 16 June 2012

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.’

BAPS Charities organised a series of seminars for young parents to raise awareness about and provide guidance on the welfare of new mothers and babies.

Held on the first three Saturdays of June at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, the sessions were led by guest speaker Dr Shreelata Datta, a Senior Registrar in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St Thomas’ Hospital, London.

The seminars covered four main areas:

  • Signs of Labour
  • Active Birth
  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby and Beyond

The series was specifically aimed at providing expectant couples personal medical advice in a familiar and friendly environment. They were encouraged to interact with each other as well as with the medical experts in asking questions.

The lectures were very well received by all the couples, who said they found them informative, helpful and reassuring.

Volunteers Team Up for ‘Big Tidy Up’ in Brent
Wednesday 30 May 2012

In keeping with its ongoing commitment to the local community in Brent, BAPS Charities jointly coordinated a ‘Big Tidy Up’ project with neighbouring organisations Tesco and McDonald’s to clean the roads, alleyways and green areas in the vicinity.

Several staff and senior management from both organisations joined volunteers from BAPS Charities on Wednesday 30 May as they embarked on a route from St Raphael’s Way, up to the Harrow Road-North Circular Road junction, then along Brentfield Road, before ending at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir.

The team separated recyclable products from general waste, significantly improving the appearance in the area while also helping foster environmental awareness. The efforts and community spirit of the team were warmly applauded by the local mayor, Cllr Michael Adeyeye.

This latest initiative stands in continuation of a number of community-driven projects led by Tesco and BAPS Charities in working together with and for local communities.

The day ended with a group photograph outside the Mandir and the team enjoying a delicious vegetarian Indian meal at the Mandir in the presence of the Mayor.

‘The Big Tidy Up’ campaign is a nationwide effort “to clear our country of clutter.” To learn more, please click here.

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

Volunteers Support Health Awareness Drive for Rotary Club
Saturday 28 April 2012

BAPS Charities was requested by the Rotary Club of Edgware and Stanmore to support a health awareness drive at the Broadwalk Shopping Centre in Edgware, London to coincide with National Stroke Awareness Day.

The health screening included measurements of blood pressure, body mass index and blood glucose levels. Dr Pujan Patel, Dr Jigar Dave, Dr Divya Nirmal and Dr Lalit Nirmal – all volunteers at BAPS Charities – offered their services for the event along with medical equipment.

During the five-hour screening session, the doctors examined 23 males and 37 females from a variety of ethnic groups and spanning an age range of 15 to 85 years. The findings of the day included an elevated body mass index in 14 subjects and an elevated systolic blood pressure in 16 participants. The event also helped raise awareness among the public about potential health risks and motivation for a leading a healthy lifestyle.

The Mayor of Brent, Cllr Aslam Chaudry, attended the event to see firsthand the service being offered in the borough. Both he and the Lady Mayoress were very pleased and appreciative of the voluntary work offered by BAPS Charities for members of the local community.

Following the event, a group of Rotarians led by the President of the Rotary Club of Edgware and Stanmore visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 26 May 2012 to thank the volunteers personally.

Lights Out for Earth Hour 2012
Saturday 31 March 2012

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London joined hundreds of millions of supporters in thousands of cities, towns and communities in a record 150 countries in observing Earth Hour 2012 on Saturday 31 March.

Buildings small and large across the continents switched off their non-essential lights for one hour at precisely 8.30pm local time. Some of these included the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Empire State Building in New York City, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, the Great Wall of China, the Bird’s Nest (Olympic Stadium) in Beijing, the Tokyo Tower, Taipei 101, India Gate and, for the first time, the International Space Station.

In the UK, notable sights including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, London Eye (dimmed only), the Royal Albert Hall, the National Gallery, Old Trafford, Clifton Suspension Bridge, Edinburgh Castle, the Millennium Centre, Piccadilly Circus, and local neighbours Wembley Stadium and the Tesco Hoover Building.

The ‘Neasden Temple’ also joined other places of worship in London and throughout the world to support the WWF’s aim to mobilise one billion people across the world to switch off their lights to raise awareness about climate change and “join together in celebration and contemplation of the one thing we all have in common – our planet.”

The initiative forms a part of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK’s continuing commitment to raising awareness about and making a positive impact upon the environment, having won first prize in the Brent in Bloom competition for the second successive year in 2010, celebrated World Environment Day 2009 with the launch of an environmental awareness drive and the Green Travel Plan, and also using Go Veg… Go Green… as the theme of its Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations in 2008.

Earth Hour was also observed at BAPS mandirs in North America, as well at Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi.

About Earth Hour

  • Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned their lights off for one hour to make their stand against climate change.
  • In 2008, the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. • In March 2009, hundreds of millions of people took part in the third Earth Hour where over 4,000 cities in 88 countries officially switched off to pledge their support for the planet.
  • In 2010, the global call to action had reached over 125 countries, making Earth Hour 2010 the world’s largest global climate change initiative. This increased further to 135 countries in 2011.
  • Earth Hour is organised by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations. Its mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and build a future where people live in harmony with nature.

To learn more about Earth Hour and the WWF, please follow the respective links.

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