News and Events

Observing International Volunteer Day
Saturday 30 November 2013

Background
In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring an international day of observance to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism. Since then, 5 December has been adopted as International Volunteer Day. It is an opportunity for volunteers and volunteer organisations to raise awareness of and gain understanding for the contribution they make to their communities.

Observance by BAPS in London
This year, the event was observed by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London. It was held on Saturday 30 November to coincide with the presence of senior sadhu Ishwarcharandas Swami, international convenor of BAPS’s volunteer activities.

The special evening assembly focussed on paying tribute to the daily, silent and tireless sacrifices volunteers of BAPS make to better the world around us.

It began with Jitu Patel, Chairman of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the UK, formally greeting Ishwarcharandas Swami on behalf of all those present.

After a formal vote of thanks by Harshad Patel, a trustee of BAPS in the UK, Harish Trivedi and Satyavratdas Swami shared inspiring examples of dedicated volunteers serving not only selflessly but joyously, often despite personal hardship.

A visual collage of these selfless acts of volunteerism was then presented on the screens.

This was followed by the key address of Ishwarcharandas Swami, who provided profound insights on the Hindu concept of seva, the selfless service of others. He drew upon teachings on seva as codified in ancient Hindu scriptures, preached and practiced by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, and lived out by successive gurus. He especially cited Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj, recounting several touching and memorable incidents from their lives and whose example and inspiration are the driving force for the thousands of BAPS volunteers around the world

The evening concluded with a video montage of blessings to volunteers from His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

In thus observing the United Nations’ International Volunteer Day, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha reaffirms its support of a shared vision of our world working together for the common good, and its commitment to actualising the spiritual message of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj: “In the joy of others, lies our own.”

To learn more about International Volunteer Day, please visit the United Nations Volunteers site here.

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

Worshippers Join Local Church-Goers on Day Out during National Inter Faith Week
Wednesday 20 November 2013

Continuing BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s commitment to National Inter Faith Week, and following the prayer meeting with local faith leaders at the Mandir, worshippers from the Mandir joined parishioners from St Anselm’s Church in Belmont for a day out together on Wednesday 20 November 2013. The day included visits to Lambeth Palace and each other’s places of worship to learn about their respective faiths.

The party gathered at St Anselm’s Church shortly before 11.00am and were warmly welcomed by Rev. Rana Khan and other members of the church. Friendships forged over tea and light vegetarian snacks kindly prepared by the church, after which the group departed for Lambeth Palace amidst unexpected snow flurries. 

The two-hour guided tour of Lambeth Palace – the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, worldwide leader of the Anglican Communion – helped further develop the new-found friendships between members of both faiths. This continued during a tour of the City by coach. 

The group arrived at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden shortly after 5pm and were guided around the complex where the church-goers learned about the religious significance of temple architecture and various Hindu beliefs, values and practices. 

The day came to a relaxing end with tea and refreshments as everyone reflected on a fruitful day of learning and fun. 

Nitin Palan, interfaith volunteer for BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the UK, shared: “The opportunity for temple-goers to meet with Christians from St Anselm’s and visit their places of worship provided an interesting way to better understand the common values that are important to both faiths. Sharing one another’s experiences not only educated but helped to build positive relationships, something which His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj has always valued and promoted.”  

To learn more about National Inter Faith Week please click here

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

Brent Laureate Writes and Films Poem on Neasden Temple
Tuesday 19 November 2013

Brent Poet Laureate Simon Mole recently unveiled his new poem for the borough. Inspired by BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – popularly known as the Neasden Temple – the poem explores the contrast between this quiet reflective space and the hustle and bustle of busy city life. 

Simon explains: “Like a lot of Londoners sometimes I find it hard to switch off from the fast pace of the city. I know the temple is an important part of the lives of many Brent residents, offering them the chance to step back and reflect – despite living in the borough for five years I had never visited before, and this seemed like the perfect chance; the temple is a genuinely awe-inspiring place!” 

The piece is the second poem commissioned by Brent Council as part of Simon’s laureateship. As Brent’s Poet Laureate, Simon has been raising the profile of poetry in Brent, engaging new audiences and running free writing workshops in order to offer other local residents a chance to express themselves. 

To better express and share his latest work, Simon created a special film with help from the Mandir. 

The poem itself is appended below. To view the 3-minute film, please click here.

The Poem

Inside the mandir at Neasden temple
each gleaming white pillar is a spotlight of silence.
I read that inner peace brings you in to contact
with your true divine nature. See the intricate infinity
of patterns in the domed roof above. Silence
1.water, toilet roll, milk, bread. 2. Put a wash on.
3. Make a plan for the week – factor in time to be spontaneous.
4. Book advance train tickets for Thursday 12th.
I read that Ganesh is the remover of obstacles.
Smile at his one tusked elephants’ head and round belly.
Feel my bare feet warm on the marble floor. Silence
5. Adam’s email about the invoices. 6. Make space
once everything is done to chill out. Stop.
It is rare to see Ganesh dance. And yet up close
this shiny stone column is carved with such music
that he does. In eight different ways
First on tip toes, with knees bent, trunk swung to one side
As two hands of four beat drums, two carve sky palms wide
trunk grips a trumpet, as left heel kicks high
bells ring, shakers shake, horns blow
Ganesh’s father Shiva was the cosmic dancer.
The rhythm of the shapes that he threw
destroyed a weary universe, clearing the way
for the process of creation, and this silence
is its own dance, the ripples
spreading out into the space between. 

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

Faith Leaders Gather for Prayer Meeting on ‘Service to Humanity’
Tuesday 19 November 2013

Local leaders from six faiths gathered at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Tuesday 19 November to share readings on the theme of ‘Service to Humanity’. 

The event was part of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s observance of National Inter Faith Week in the UK, which this year ran from 17 to 23 November. 

The aim of the Week is to strengthen good interfaith relations at all levels, and to increase awareness of and understanding between people of different faith communities in the UK. 

The meeting began with warm greetings among the faith leaders and a chance to converse over light refreshments. 

As everyone convened in the meeting room, Nitin Palan (Interfaith Coordinator for BAPS) and Father Andrew Hammond (vicar of the nearby St Mary’s Church in Willesden) accorded everyone a warm welcome and introduced the event. 

Each faith leader was then called upon to share readings and reflections from their respective sacred texts and traditions on the theme of serving humanity. After each five-minute reading, a minute was spent in silent prayer and contemplation. 

The respected presenters were, in order:

  • Rabbi Yehuda Black – Kenton Synagogue
  • Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala – Head Priest of the London Buddhist Vihara and the current Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain
  • Imam Abdullah Salloo – Islamic Cultural Centre, Wembley
  • Dr Harshad Sanghrajka – Institute of Jainology
  • Father Andrew Hammond – Church of England, Willesden
  • Pujya Satyavratdas Swami – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden 

Others present at the meeting included:

  • Father Andrew Teather – Church of England, Willesden
  • Father Michael Moorhead – Church of England, Harlesden
  • Reverend Dr R L Leao-Neto – Methodist Church, Brent
  • Pujya Paramtattvadas Swami – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden
  • Kirit Wadia – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden
  • Rakesh Shah – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden 

After the meeting, the guests took time to appreciate a series of banners expressing Hindu wisdom related to interfaith harmony and highlighting the work of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in reaching out in dialogue to world religious leaders and also welcoming them to the Mandir. 

Appreciating the “excellent gathering”, Father Hammond noted that “the hospitality and organisation [of the evening] was exemplary”. 

Kirit Wadia, interfaith volunteer at the Mandir, added: “It was a pleasure to bring so many local faith leaders together to share thoughts on such an important topic. What was especially striking was how much we share in common and how much we can still learn from each other. As we all agreed, we hope this is the beginning of much greater interaction and cooperation among our various communities.” 

To learn more about National Inter Faith Week, please click here.

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

The Swaminarayan Prep School Ranked Among Top in the Country
Sunday 17 November 2013

The Swaminarayan School opposite the Mandir has been ranked an impressive 30th among the country’s top 100 independent preparatory schools in a league table published by the Sunday Times on 17 November 2013. It sees The Swaminarayan School climb more than 20 places from 52nd position last year. 

The rankings are based on the proportion of children passing English and Maths SATs at Key Stage 2 (Level 5), aggregated between 2010 and 2012. 

This recognition follows the record GCSE and A-Level results at the School in September 2013. 

Head of The Prep School, Mr Umesh Raja, spoke of his “delight and pride” on behalf of the School for the achievement. “The students work exceptionally hard and are supported by talented teachers and staff as well as a dedicated support structure from both parents and governors.” 

The excellent academic results are complimented with a variety of other awards that have been made to the School. Most recently, the School was presented with the NACE Challenge Award for “helping pupils achieve their best”. The Prep School has also previously been accredited with an award from the Cognitive Education Centre for being a “Thinking School”

Prime Minister Hosts Diwali Reception at 10 Downing Street
Wednesday 6 November 2013

Following his visit to the Mandir on Monday 4 November to celebrate the Hindu New Year, Prime Minister David Cameron celebrated the Hindu festival of Diwali at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday 6 November 2013. 

Along with British Hindus from various denominations, also gathered in the Pillared Room of the Prime Ministerial home were Keith Vaz MP, Shailesh Vara MP, Alok Sharma MP, Priti Patel MP, and several other eminent Britons of Indian origin. 

The event, helped organised by Bob Blackman MP, began with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp while schoolchildren chanted ancient Vedic prayers. 

A traditional arrangement of Indian food was also on offer to Hindu Deities as part of the auspicious celebrations. Volunteers from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir had worked hard to set up the decorations and ‘Annakut’ – as it is called in Sanskrit – comprising a colourful selection of Indian sweets and savouries in offering to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami, Shri Radha-Krishna and Shri Sita-Rama. 

In his short address, Mr Cameron began by recalling his visit to the Mandir. He said: “You get to make some extraordinary visits as Prime Minister, you get to meet some extraordinary people and you get to do some extraordinary things. But very few will actually compete with my experience on Monday, going to the Mandir in Neasden. It was a beautiful service; it was lovely to see so many people packed into a temple and queues stretching round the block; people wanting to celebrate their belief, wanting to celebrate their faith, and wanting to do so with their families, with their neighbours, with their friends. It was a really wonderful thing to do and I want to thank those that asked me to take part.” 

He then went on to reiterate his two wishes made at the Mandir on Monday – that the British Hindu community can help “forge great relationships between Britain and India” and “becomes ever more involved in shaping the life of our country”. 

After applauding the “enormous contributions that British Hindus make to our country”, he highlighted the importance given to family, community and voluntary service in the Hindu faith. 

In conclusion, the Prime Minister said: “So, as you celebrate your values, let’s make them our values, and let’s have more of them in Britain.” 

On this special occasion, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj had sent a message of goodwill to the Prime Minister. His Holiness said he was praying for the peace and well-being of all people in the UK, and the light and warmth of God to guide us swiftly through this period of austerity. 

In keeping with the spirit of Diwali, the celebrants were presented at the end with the delicacies which had formed a part of the Annakut, to further share with their family and friends. 

Earlier on Monday, the Prime Minister had visited the Mandir in Neasden with his wife Mrs Samantha Cameron to participate first-hand in the Hindu New Year celebrations. To see a report with photos and a video, please click here

For detailed reports of the Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, please follow the respective links. 

To read the full transcript of the Prime Minister’s speech on the official Number 10 website, please click here

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

Speech by Prime Minister Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP
Monday 4 November 2013

Jai Swaminarayan. 

Samantha and I are delighted to be here with you today. I must apologise that I am not in traditional dress but I am proud to come here with someone who is and who looks magnificent. 

I want to say a big ‘thank you’ from both of us for the wonderful time that we have had – to Satyavrat Swami, the other Swamis at the Mandir, the Board of Trustees, the volunteers and everyone gathered here today, thank you. 

Now, as Prime Minister, I have addressed some pretty big gatherings but I can’t remember the last time I spoke to an audience of several thousand people. And you know what, if I am honest, it is a bit nerve-wracking, so thank you for that warm welcome. 

These are truly spectacular celebrations. No matter what you have heard about the Annakut – the mountain of food – seeing it really is quite something. I don’t think I have ever seen such a magnificent display of different foods – and I will quite happily help you finish some of it off. 

Now Samantha and I are here, of course, to celebrate New Year with you, and as you know, every New Year begins with a wish, so I hope you will allow me two wishes today. 

My first wish is this, that the British Indian community helps to strengthen our relationship with India. I have made two official visits to India since I became Prime Minister, and I can tell you today that very soon, I will be making my third. This is a vitally important friendship for the United Kingdom. Yes we have a shared language, we have cultural ties, we have a shared past – but what really matters is how we can work together now and in the future. We want to be the partner of choice for India – to grow, to do business and to make that case I want to have you right behind me. That is my first wish. 

And the second wish is this, that the British Indian community becomes ever more involved in shaping the life of our country. I think of the values that you are celebrating today – family, community – those are the values that we in this country need more of. When I look around this magnificent mandir, built by thousands of volunteers who gave their time and their money – that is a spirit we can all celebrate today in Britain. 

I see what the British Indian community has given to our country – the entrepreneurs who have enriched us, the artists who have inspired us, the sportsman who have entertained us, the doctors who have helped us, and of course, the fantastic cooks who have today, admirably fed us. Your contribution throughout this country shines out. 

And let me say this: it is great that so many British Indians are contributing to British politics. And we want many more British Indians in our Parliament, Commons and Lords, and yes, in the Government of our country too. So that is why Samantha and I wanted to be here with you today. 

So from the bottom of my heart, I would like to wish everyone here today, and all Hindus throughout Britain, a very Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year. 

Jai Swaminarayan. 

Prime Minister David Cameron Celebrates Hindu New Year at Neasden Temple
Monday 4 November 2013

The Prime Minister Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP and his wife Samantha Cameron joined thousands of devotees and visitors at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on Monday 4 November 2013 to celebrate the Hindu New Year.

This was Mr Cameron’s second visit to the Mandir to celebrate this auspicious occasion, following his previous visit as Leader of the Opposition in October 2008.                   

Mr Cameron was welcomed at the ceremonial gates by Jitu Patel, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Satyavrat Swami (Head Sadhu) who greeted him in traditional Indian manner with auspicious marks of welcome and goodwill. Mrs Cameron was greeted by Rena Amin, lead volunteer of BAPS Women’s Forum.

Mr and Mrs Cameron then performed a ritual bathing of a metallic image of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, after which they proceeded to the sanctum sanctorum where they spent several minutes absorbing the peace and intricate architecture of the Mandir.

Thereafter, the Prime Minister and his wife made their way into the prayer hall where they were greeted with rapturous applause. Mr Cameron was garlanded by Ghanshyamcharan Swami (senior sadhu visiting from India), and Mrs Cameron was similarly garlanded by Pooja Patel (youth member of BAPS Women’s Forum).

In his address, Mr Cameron expressed that both he and his wife “were delighted to be here with you today.” Expressing his awe at the “truly spectacular celebrations” and the Annakut offering, he said, “No matter what you have heard about the Annakut – seeing it really is quite something. I don’t think I have ever seen such a magnificent display of different foods.”

After expressing his two wishes for the New Year – that the British Indian community “help strengthen our relationship with India” and “becomes ever more involved in shaping the life of our country” – the Prime Minister went on to congratulate the British Indian community: “Your contribution throughout our country shines out.”

He concluded by wishing everyone present as well all Hindus throughout Britain “a very happy Diwali and prosperous New Year.” (To read a transcript of the full speech, please click here.)

In a digital message posted on screens throughout the complex by the ‘Share a Prayer’ app, Mr Cameron also wrote: “Heartiest New Year wishes to all those celebrating today at Neasden Temple. Jai Swaminarayan from David Cameron.”

The Prime Minister was then presented with a special memento sent from India by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head and creator of the Mandir.

Mr and Mrs Cameron thereafter proceeded for photographs and a selection of interviews before departing the Mandir shortly after 2pm

Hindu New Year Celebrations
Monday 4 November 2013

Following the auspicious day of Diwali on Sunday 3 November, the morning of Monday 4 November 2013 marked the Hindu New Year (Samvat 2070), which was celebrated with great piety and devotion at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. 

The first ceremony of the New Year commenced at 5.30am, followed by prayers for world peace and well-being. By mid-day, the Annakut – literally, a ‘mountain of food’ – was ready. It is a traditional offering of the first meal of the New Year made in thanksgiving to God for his providence over the past year and to seek his blessings for the year ahead. 

The Prime Minister Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP and his wife Samantha Cameron joined worshippers to celebrate the New Year. For a detailed report of their visit to the Mandir, please click here

The Acting High Commissioner of India to the UK, Dr Virander Paul, had also attended. Dr Paul joined the ceremonial arti inside the Haveli shortly before noon, and was guided around the prayer hall as well as the sanctum sanctorum. 

During his short New Year’s address, Head Sadhu of the Mandir, Satyavrat Swami, spoke of the ‘spirit of volunteerism’ that created this Mandir – a value fostered by Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He also spoke of the place that the Mandir serves for ‘people of different backgrounds to come together to worship God.’ 

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. Visitors conveyed festive messages digitally to friends and family which were then relayed on large screens in the assembly hall and around the complex. 

Inspired by the Diwali message of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, children volunteering for BAPS Charities also collected funds for the BBC’s Children in Need campaign during the two-day festivities. Charity is a key theme for Hindus during this festive period. 

For more information 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
Sunday 3 November 2013

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 Sunday 3 November 2013. 

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. Ghanshyamcharan Swami, senior sadhu visiting from India, also spoke on the spiritual significance of the day. 

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 rain to be enthralled by the colourful 20-minute display that illuminated the skies of North London high above the Mandir domes. 

Among those enjoying the celebrations were Sadiq Khan (MP for Tooting, Shadow Justice Secretary, Shadow Lord Chancellor, and Shadow Minister for London), Barry Gardiner (MP for Brent North and Shadow Minister for the Natural Environment & Fisheries), Cllr Muhammed Butt (Leader of Brent Council), Cllr  Zaffar Van Kalwala (Stonebridge), and Cllr Krupa Sheth (Wembley Central). 

Mr Khan expressed his delight and honour at being at the Mandir and said a special thank you to His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj for blessing London – indeed Britain – with such an inspiring and beautiful temple and a community that gives so much back to the country. 

He later tweeted: “Thank you to all at @NeasdenTemple for best fireworks in 2013 in #London. #Shubhdiwali & happy new year”. 

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

Mandir Features on Bing Homepage for Diwali
Sunday 3 November 2013

Throughout the day on Sunday 3 November 2013, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London featured on the Bing homepage in celebration of Diwali.

Bing is the web search engine from Microsoft.

The website’s homepage features background images that change daily, often depicting special holidays, anniversaries or current events.

In celebration of the Hindu festival of Diwali, the search engine’s homepage sported a full-screen image of the Mandir with a caption at the bottom which read, “Indian temple? It’s actually closer to home”. This linked to the Mandir’s location on Bing Maps, the search engine’s web mapping service.

The same homepage featured in several countries around the world, including America, Australia, and Russia.

To view the homepage, please click here, or see a screenshot in the gallery above.

Supporting Life-Saving Research with the Great British Bag-Athon
Tuesday 1 October 2013

The Great British Bag-Athon Challenge – the British Heart Foundation’s annual campaign to raise funds for their vital research – was launched at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 17 August 2013 and continued till the end of September. 

Running since 2009, this hugely successful campaign is “fundraising with a difference”. As the British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains: “We don’t want your money, but we can use everything from a woolly hat to a wardrobe in our fight for every heartbeat.” 

Every bag filled with unwanted things could raise £20 towards life-saving research to help combat coronary heart disease – still the UK’s single biggest killer. 

This year, a record 1.1 million bags were collected across the country. 

At the Mandir, worshippers and visitors donated a remarkable 495 bags – the second highest total by any group in the country. The collection could be worth up to £10,000 in funds. 

Organised by BAPS Charities, the campaign follows several previous collaborations with the BHF, including a nationwide sponsored walk in 2007 and the many on-going awareness and training sessions, most recently for the provision of emergency life support training

Dr Mayank Shah from BAPS Charities shared, “BAPS Charities is proud to continue our longstanding partnership with the British Heart Foundation and help them raise funds for the great work that they do. The Mandir was the perfect place to do this, because the worshippers here are so inspired by the message of Pramukh Swami Maharaj to serve those who are ill and less fortunate than us. We hope the bags we have collected can make a real difference in saving and improving lives.” 

To learn more about The Great British Bag-athon and the work of the British Heart Foundation, please follow the respective links. 

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

63 New Donors Register at Bone Marrow Recruitment Drive
28 September 2013

BAPS Charities, in collaboration with Delete Blood Cancer UK, hosted a campaign at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir to register members of the South Asian community onto the National Bone Marrow Donation Register.  

DID YOU KNOW? Someone is diagnosed with blood cancer in the UK every 18 minutes. Every 10 minutes, blood cancer takes a life somewhere in the world.

Bone marrow and stem cell donation allows the treatment of multiple blood cancers and conditions. There is a significant lack of Asian donors on the National Bone Marrow Register. As a result, a suitable donor to treat Asians is often not available, leading to life-threatening situations. 

BAPS Charities has recognised this need and held numerous drives and initiatives over the years to raise awareness and to encourage Asians to join the register. 

This latest drive, held on Saturday 28 September 2013, involved a team of volunteers from both charities. The team’s enthusiasm and vibrant stall in the foyer of the Mandir helped attract attention, raise awareness of the issue, and sign up new potential donors. 

The day proved a great success with 63 new registrants signing up for the National Bone Marrow Register and many more being educated about the need for South Asian donors. One new donor shared: “I was initially scared about having to give a part of me to a stranger, but I have been really  inspired by the message of Pramukh Swami, about finding joy in bringing joy to others and helping others. It was a really satisfying experience.” The visiting team also enjoyed the day and expressed their “amazing experience of the drive at the Mandir.” 

This initiative follows a similar drive last year by BAPS Charities, this time with The Anthony Nolan Trust, which raised 82 new potential bone marrow donors. This followed the funds and awareness raised for blood cancer treatment when BAPS Charities partnered with The Anthony Nolan Trust for the BAPS Family Walk & Fun Run in 2009.

 To find out more about Delete Blood Cancer UK, visit their website at deletebloodcancer.org.uk. Or click here to learn about bone marrow donation.

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

Observing International Peace Day
Sunday 22 September 2013

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 22 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 ‘Education for Peace’, Prabuddhmuni Swami drew upon the life and work of Shastriji Maharaj, the founder of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. 

This was followed by Ghanshyamcharan Swami (visiting from India), who expounded upon the teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He explained how these spiritual principles could induce a truly lasting, meaningful end to conflict within hearts and homes and ultimately the world. 

A short video was then shown depicting Pramukh Swami Maharaj bringing peace and joy to all those around him. 

Thereafter, a statement of prayer and reflection was read out reiterating the UN Secretary-General’s message for 2013: “On this International Day of Peace, let us pledge to teach our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect. Let us invest in the schools and teachers that will build a fair and inclusive world that embraces diversity. Let us fight for peace and defend it with all our might.” 

The assembly concluded with meditative chanting to pray for all fellow humans 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 especially for those affected by the tragic acts of terror on-going around 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.

Celebrating ‘Open House London’
Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 September 2013

Open House London – the capital’s principal architectural festival – took place over the weekend of 21-22 September 2013. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London participated once again in the annual celebration of all that is “best about the capital’s buildings, places, and neighbourhoods.”

The annual event is organised by Open House, a small, not-for-profit organisation established in 1992 aiming to promote public awareness and appreciation of the capital’s building design and architecture. It falls under the auspices of Open-City, London’s leading architecture education organisation.

The Mandir was among more than 700 buildings, including homes, monuments and places of worship, in opening its doors to the public. Other local wonders included the Brent Civic Centre in Wembley and South Kilburn Studios.

Over the two days, hundreds of visitors were offered guided tours of the Mandir complex, learning how it was made 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: “The Mandir welcomes worshippers, visitors and guests throughout the year. Open House, however, provides a more specific and tailored experience for those who wish to understand the architectural significance as well as the religious activities that take place here. We hope that all the visitors over the weekend were able to learn something about the Mandir as well as the various community activities that it conducts and promotes.” 

Many visitors also shared their experience of the Mandir, exhibition and volunteers. Below is a small selection of their feedback. 

“Very welcoming, interesting and informative. In a world of unbelief, it is refreshing to be with those who believe.” 

“Staff and volunteers all very welcoming and happy to talk to us and explain. Exhibition and film excellent and very informative. A very spiritual and uplifting visit. Thank you.” 

“The mandir oozed peace, harmony and toleration. Very uplifting.” 

 “Awesome architecture. Information available made me aware of the good aspects of Hinduism – the goodness of the teachings.” 

“Fascinating + very interesting. Gives more understanding of Hinduism. Very inclusive.” 

“I enjoyed this even more than expected. The information panels were concise and just the right amount of info for a beginner to the religion. I loved it all. Beautiful building.” 

“Amazing building. The attention to detail was like nothing we have seen before. Thank you for allowing this visit!” 

“Very beautiful temple. Very helpful & friendly people. 10/10.” 

“Thank you for bringing something so beautiful to England. God bless.” 

“Beautiful. Superb. Never thought we’d see this in London.” 

“This is a place of great spiritual power. I belong to an altogether different religious confession but I’m definitely coming back to experience again this incredible feeling.” 

“Beautiful, well explained exhibition and informative, fantastic stone carvings and a feeling of a ‘higher power’ being involved in its construction.” 

To learn 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.

Hindu New Year
Monday 4 November 2013

The day following Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. It is one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu calendar and celebrated fervently with gifts, feasting and merriment.

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.

Diwali
Sunday 3 November 2013

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.