News and Events

Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi Celebrations
Saturday 31 March & Sunday 1 April 2012

Festivals marking the divine birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shri Rama were celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London over the weekend of 31 March and 1 April 2012.

The celebrations began on the evening of Saturday 31 March with a two-day production, culminating on the evening of Sunday 1 April 2012. Inspiring episodes from the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan were dramatised depicting the faith and steadfastness of sadhus and devotees from his time. Children, youths and senior devotees all contributed to an enlightening set of performances.

Interspersed with these sketches were explanations by sadhus of the positive transformation that Bhagwan Swaminarayan had inspired in the lives of so many. A collection of devotional songs extolling the divine virtues of Bhagwan Swaminarayan were also eloquently sung before Yogvivek Swami, Head Sadhu of the Mandir, spoke of the importance of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life and work in our lives today.

On Sunday 1 April 2012 – the actual day of the births according to the Hindu calendar – a traditional annakut (grand variety of food) was offered the deities to mark the auspicious occasion. At 12 noon, the sadhus performed a special arti to commemorate the birth of Shri Rama.

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

A special programme of devotional songs was organised inside the Haveli assembly hall from 5pm as part of the festivities. Sadhus sang a collection of bhajans describing the divine characteristics of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shri Rama before the second day of the production continued at 8pm.

The grand assembly culminated with the celebrations of the birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan at precisely 10:10pm.

The festivals were also celebrated at all BAPS mandirs and centres around the UK as well as in Europe.

In addition, a special assembly of festivities by the Women’s Forum was held in London on Saturday 7 April 2012. A series of sketches illustrated the positive transformation of people’s lives that took place with the blessings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan in his time. The inspiring and joyous celebrations were enjoyed by young and old.

International Women’s Day 2012 Sharing Strength; Inspiring Integrity
Saturday 17 March 2012

Hundreds of women gathered on Saturday 17 March 2012 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, for an evening of education and inspiration in commemoration of International Women’s Day 2012.

The Mandir hosted the national event with a programme to honour the ‘unsung heroines’ of society – highlighting the commendable work of women who may not be in the public eye or widely considered successful, yet who are inspirational role models nonetheless. The event also included dance and cultural performances as part of an overall gala awards ceremony.

Awards that were presented included tributes to young achievers, those who have offered tireless community and public service, and women of special strength. Invited guests included Brent Borough’s youngest ever elected councillor, Krupa Sheth, and Dawn Butler, British Labour Party politician.

Krupa Sheth, 20, spoke of how, if it were not for the support of her family and her education at The Swaminarayan School, she would not be where she is today. She went on to say that she hoped that her recent election win would inspire others to achieve their goals.

Rena Amin, one of the lead volunteers helping organise the event, explained: “The main message we hope to share is that there are inspiring women all around us and we can learn so much from them. A seemingly simple housewife can not only teach us how to help raise a strong and happy family, but also about multitasking, prioritising and managing expectations. A young professional can inspire youngsters to excel in their studies and scale great heights. If we individually take the time to talk to others and listen to their stories, we would have the potential to learn and develop beyond expectation.”

Pooja Patel, 18, of Wellingborough won the Young Achievers Award. Pooja is a high-achiever academically as well as in extra-curricular activities, and has recently secured a scholarship to study Biomedicine at the University of East Anglia. She said, “I never expected to get this award, but I’m really pleased. I’ve always been taught to work hard, and the Mandir has given me the spiritual strength and guidance to strive for progress in each area of my life. I’m really grateful for that.”

Sunday 1 April 2012

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Special Book Release: BAPS Charities – Celebrating Your Support of Barnardo’s
Saturday 10 March 2012

Following the BAPS Charities 10K Challenge and 30-mile bike ride in 2010, BAPS Charities raised £25,000 for Barnardo’s to help vulnerable children throughout the UK. In commemoration of this project, Barnardo’s recently published a book to express their gratitude to everyone who participated and as a celebration of the success and fun of the challenge itself.

Mr Jez Alcock, Special Advisor to Barnardo’s, was present on the evening of Saturday 10 March 2012 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, to inaugurate this souvenir book. In his address, he said: “I have been at Barnardo’s for 23 years and I have to say, you are the friendliest and kindest people I have ever met. I am here tonight to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all of you for your efforts to raise a magnificent £25,000 to fund our critical work at Carefree in Leicester, The Arch Service in Birmingham, and Heshima in Croydon.

“Our CEO [Marie Currie] can’t be here tonight but she asked me to say these words: ‘The donation raised through your challenge events has helped us to continue to care for some of the most vulnerable young people in the UK. I am extremely grateful for your inspirational efforts.”

Jez proceeded to describe one of the beneficiaries of the money raised by BAPS Charities: “One young person called Matthew, whose mother suffers from severe mental illness, had become a young carer. The donations raised by BAPS Charities helped to fund a group for such young carers in Leicester – enabling the hire of a community hall, pay for transport for children to attend groups for advice and support, and recreational activities that children in these circumstances would otherwise not be able to experience.”

He continued by narrating Matthew’s words: “Imagine a fishing net that can catch the big fish but not the little ones. Barnardo’s is like a blanket that covers the holes, that stops the little fish like me slipping through.”

Jez concluded, “Because of your wonderful generosity, Barnado’s has been able to make that blanket just a little bit larger. Thank you all so much.”

A full, online copy of the book can be viewed here (after clicking ‘PREVIEW BOOK!’).

To learn more about the important work of Barnardo’s, please click here.

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

Holi Celebrations
Wednesday 7 March 2012

The Hindu festival of Holi was celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Wednesday 7 March 2012. Holi (Fagun sud Punam), is popularly referred to as the ‘Festival of Colours’, and marks the arrival of Spring.

The sacred images in the Mandir were adorned with beautiful coloured clothing. Devotees arrived continuously throughout the day to offer their prayers on this auspicious day.

To celebrate the protection of Prahlad by Lord Vishnu – the victory of good over evil – devotees and visitors offered grains to a bonfire lit in the open grounds of The Swaminarayan School.

Hundreds of devotees and visitors arrived to partake in the devotional celebrations. The festival brought together devotees as well as members of the local community who also joined in the celebrations.

BAPS Charities Presents £25,000 Cheque to Age UK
Saturday 3 March 2012

BAPS Charities UK presented a cheque for £25,000 to Age UK at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 3 March 2012. Mr Paul Farthing, Director of Fundraising for the Charity, had arrived to receive the cheque on behalf of Age UK – one of the country’s leading charities for people in later life.

The money had been raised over two Sundays in April 2011 when over 3,500 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 children and various other worthy causes.

Some of the funds that were raised have already been put to good use with the creation of a booklet in Gujarati on managing finances for the elderly – published by Age UK with the help of BAPS Charities.

In his address during the special cheque presentation ceremony at the Mandir, Mr Farthing expressed his gratitude for “the tremendous support” of BAPS Charities and commented on how he was “inspired by the spirit of service and volunteerism at the Mandir, and also how the elderly are looked after here.” He also touched on the common principles that the Charity shares with the Mandir – namely, to ensure that the elderly are not forgotten.

Kamlesh Patel, lead volunteer for BAPS Charities, remarked: “The elderly are an important part of the community and we are delighted to be able to help an organisation who values them like we do.”

To read a report about the BAPS Charities Annual Challenge on the Age UK site, please click here.

To learn more about Age UK and their work for the elderly, please click here.

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

BAPS Charities 10K Annual Challenge Launch
Saturday 25 February 2012

The BAPS Charities 10K Annual Challenge for 2012 was launched on the evening of Saturday 25 February 2012 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London. The official partner for BAPS Charities this year is Macmillan Cancer Support, which provides “practical, medical and financial support to push for better cancer care.”

The Challenge will offer an opportunity for participants to run, jog or walk 10 kilometres, and will take place in London and cities across the UK in April. A ‘30K Bike Challenge’ will also form part of this year’s Challenge, and will take place in Leicester.

The event will bring together people from a variety of ages and backgrounds as well as join local communities from across the country to support the various good causes of BAPS Charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support. The nationwide event will also provide many local charities with essential funds to continue their good work.

This year’s Challenge builds on 18 years of sponsored events being organised by BAPS. Previous national partners have included Barnardo’s, The Anthony Nolan Trust, Diabetes UK, The British Heart Foundation, Breast Cancer Care and Age UK.

Steven Wibberley, Head of Information and Financial Support at Macmillan, joined BAPS Charities at the Mandir in London for the official launch. In his address to the assembly, he shared: “Macmillan Cancer Support is very grateful to BAPS Charities for selecting us as their partner for this year’s Challenge. At Macmillan, we not only work with cancer patients, but look to provide support for their families, and your support will be very welcome.”

BAPS Charities volunteer Kamlesh Patel added, “We are delighted to partner with Macmillan Cancer Support this year and hope that the Challenge can help to further their great work.”

To learn more about Macmillan Cancer Support, please click here.

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

Maha-Shivaratri Celebrations
Monday 20 February 2012

Monday 20 February 2012 saw the auspicious Hindu festival of Maha-Shivaratri celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London. The day began with the sacred and traditional abhishek of the Shivalinga performed by the sadhus.

The ice Shivalinga on display in the Haveli entrance symbolised the manifestation of Lord Shiva, providing a reminder of Amarnath in India where a natural ice Shivalinga exists.

Devotees and visitors had the opportunity to offer Shiva-Puja with bilva-patra (bael leaves) and perform abhishek of the Shivalinga with milk throughout the day. A beautiful Annakut was offered as well, in which many varieties of ‘falahar’ items were offered at the shrines of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shiva-Parvati. Devotees observed a ‘falahari’ fast throughout the day.

Health Awareness Seminar for the Elderly Stomach and Intestinal Diseases: How to Recognise Them
Sunday 12 February 2012

As part of their Health and Welfare for the Elderly series, BAPS Healthcare held a seminar about stomach and intestinal diseases. The seminar was conducted by Dr Kalpesh Besherdas, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Barnet and Chase Farm NHS Trust.

Topics covered included:

  • Recognition of alarming symptoms that might be suggestive of cancer
  • Symptoms suggestive of heartburn, indigestion and reflux
  • Symptoms of stomach ulcers
  • Symptoms of gall stones or gallbladder problems
  • Recognition of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • What to do about an altered bowel habit or stomach bloating

Click here for PowerPoint Presentation (6 MB)

Advice about when and where to seek help and guidance from was offered.

Finally, questions were answered from the floor

The seminar was attended by about 50 people, all of whom learned a significant amount, found the seminar very informative and helpful, and had numerous questions.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for medical advice.

Snow
4 February 2012
82 New Donors Register at Bone Marrow Recruitment Drive
Saturday 28 January 2012

As part of its continuing partnership with The Anthony Nolan Trust, BAPS Charities UK organised a recruitment drive for bone marrow donors on the evening of Saturday 28 January 2012 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. This follows the funds and awareness raised for the UK blood cancer charity in 2009 from BAPS’s Family Walk & Fun Run.

There is a specific shortage of young male donors between the ages of 18 and 30, and this event helped to address this gap. For example, a 24-year-old temple-goer of Indian origin has recently been diagnosed with leukaemia and urgently requires a bone marrow transplant. A match had not been found from the current register of bone marrow donors, and this drive will help many like him find a life-saving match, especially as the likelihood of a match increases with donors from the same ethnic background.

As part of the drive, a total of 22 volunteers from BAPS Charities were also trained in recruiting bone marrow donors. Lynsey Dickson, Regional Recruitment Manager for Anthony Nolan, suggested that volunteers from the charity would be taken with the Anthony Nolan team to other recruitment events in the local community in the future.

The campaign proved to be a notable success as 82 new donors registered. A young male that had registered to be a donor at a previous drive with BAPS Charities spoke of his experience of being a bone marrow donor, and his privilege of saving a life. This helped to encourage many more young people to register.

For more information about joining the Bone Marrow Register and the important work of The Anthony Nolan Trust, please follow the respective links.

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

Pramukh Swami Maharaj: Inspirer & Masterbuilder
The Swaminarayan School Ranked 12th in Independent School Table
January 2012

After being recognised as the third-best independent school of its size by The Daily Telegraph following the A Level results in 2011, The Swaminarayan School has been ranked 12th among all independent schools in the country in a table published by the same broadsheet for the GCSE results from the summer of that year.

The School’s score – which is the basis of the standings – is calculated by the average of a pupil’s points allocated for grades between A* to G. For the 2011 results, this was 583.6.

All 100% of students who sat the exams at The Swaminarayan School in 2011 achieved at least five A* to C grades. An outstanding 96% of grades across the range of subjects were in the A* to C band. Additionally, 58% of all results were in the A* and A band (compared to 23% nationally), with this increasing to 85% for the A* to B band.

This outstanding achievement builds on similar results and other awards of recognition over the years at various levels.

Mr Savjani, Headteacher of the School, congratulated the Year 11 students’ “superb performance”, saying, “It’s a testimony to their hard work and dedication and also the exceptional teaching provided by all our staff here. We must also thank the tremendous support from all the parents and governors, proving once again that this really is a collaborative project.”

To learn more about The Swaminarayan School, visit its independent website here.

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