News and Events

Holi Celebrations
Tuesday 26 March 2013

The Hindu festival of Holi was celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Tuesday 26 March 2013. Holi (Fagun sud Punam) is popularly referred to as the ‘Festival of Colours’, and marks the joyous arrival of Spring. 

The sacred images in the Mandir were adorned with beautiful coloured clothing. Devotees braved the unseasonably chilly weather to offer their prayers on this auspicious day. 

Also associated with Holi is fertility and the ancient ritual of offering the first spring harvest to Agni, the fire deity. This day further celebrates the saving by Lord Vishnu of the young prince Prahlad from his evil father Hiranyakashipu and demoness aunt Holika – a victory of good over evil. Devotees and visitors offered grains to a bonfire lit in the open grounds of The Swaminarayan School symbolising this victory and ancient ritual. 

Hundreds of devotees and visitors arrived to participate 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 Annual 10K Challenge
Sunday 28 April 2013

Every year, almost 4,000 people of all ages and backgrounds come together around the country to participate in the BAPS Charities Annual 10K Challenge. It is a chance to have fun, do something healthy, and most importantly, raise valuable funds for a variety of worthy causes.

Join us this year as we support the work of BAPS Charities and its national beneficiary, KIDS.

Holi Celebrations
Sunday 12 March 2017

 

Holi is one of the most colourful festivals in the Hindu calendar. It welcomes the onset of spring and celebrates the new life and vitality of all that follows. It also celebrates the triumph of good over evil and the saving grace of God, symbolised by the lighting of the Holi bonfire.

Lights Out for Earth Hour 2013
Saturday 23 March 2013

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London joined millions of supporters in 7,000 cities, towns and municipalities across more than 150 countries and territories around the world to observe Earth Hour 2013 on Saturday 23 March.

Iconic 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 Gateway of India in Mumbai, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Table Mountain in Cape Town, and Times Square in New York. 

In the UK, notable sights including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Wembley Stadium, the London Eye, Edinburgh Castle, Brighton Pier, Durham Cathedral, Old Trafford, Canterbury Cathedral, and Windsor Castle. 

The ‘Neasden Temple’ also joined other places of worship in London and elsewhere in the world to support the WWF’s aim to mobilise one billion people globally and “build momentum and motivation for the next person”. By switching off lights, the hope is to raise awareness about climate change and make a “collective impact, beyond the hour.” 

The initiative forms a part of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s continuing commitment in the UK to raise awareness about and make a positive impact upon the environment, having recently organised an event to support Climate Week during the International Women’s Day Celebrations held at the Mandir. Volunteers from the Mandir teamed up with Thames21 in October 2012 to clean the nearby Brent Feeder Canal. In addition, the Mandir was presented with an ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ in 2012 as part of the ‘Brent in Bloom’ garden competition. World Environment Day was celebrated here in 2012 and the Mandir launched a Green Travel Plan  in 2009. 

Earth Hour was also observed at BAPS mandirs in North America, as well as 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 and more than 6,950 cities in 2012.
  • 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 Swaminarayan Sanstha is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Maha-Shivaratri Celebrations
Sunday 10 March 2013

The auspicious Hindu festival of Maha-Shivaratri was joyously celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Sunday 10 March 2013. The day began with the sacred and traditional bathing of the Shivalinga performed by the sadhus. 

An ice Shivalinga, symbolising the manifestation of Lord Shiva, was displayed in the Haveli entrance providing a reminder of the sacred pilgrimage town of Amarnath in India where a natural ice Shivalinga exists. 

As part of the festivities at the Mandir, 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 (religious offering of food for thanksgiving) was artistically displayed, in which many varieties of ‘falahar’ items were offered at the shrines of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shiva-Parvati.

Recycling Clothes for Climate Week
Saturday 9 March 2013

Climate Week was observed at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 9 March 2013 with a special clothes recycling drive organised by BAPS Charities. 

Climate Week is ‘Britain’s biggest climate change campaign, inspiring a new wave of action to create a sustainable future.’ This year, the initiative was observed between 4 and 10 March and was Britain’s biggest ever environmental occasion, attended by more than half a million people across more than 3,400 events. 

The event at the Mandir coincided with the International Women’s Day conference titled ‘Celebrating Women: Above and Beyond’, which aimed to highlight the achievements of women and inspire delegates to make a positive contribution to society. Chief Guest and Keynote speaker at the conference was Home Secretary Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP

In keeping with the theme of going ‘above and beyond’, delegates were encouraged to recycle old and/or unwanted clothes, inspiring positive environmental action and increasing environmental awareness. The day was attended by more than 500 delegates and everyone was invited to bring their unwanted clothes with them. These clothes were collected and will be donated to the children’s charity Barnardo’s. 

Children and the environment are important to the Mandir. Volunteers recently teamed up with Thames 21 to clean the Brent Feeder Canal and BAPS Charities also raised funds for Barnardo’s during its Annual Challenge in 2010. 

The day was attended by Casey Calista, Campaign Coordinator for Climate Week, as well as several representatives from Barnardo’s. Casey praised the “tireless volunteering efforts” and said that such efforts “prove what great change can be made if we all act together.” Casey also offered her congratulations for the International Women’s Day celebrations, calling it an “inspiring event”, and the clothing collection drive which she said “highlights another way to reuse our old items for good instead of adding to landfills.” 

To learn more about Climate Week and Barnardo’s, please follow the respective links.

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

Celebrating International Women’s Day
Saturday 9 March 2013

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London welcomed hundreds of women on Saturday 9 March 2013 to celebrate International Women’s Day. 

The United Nations-recognised day was observed with an inspiring conference titled ‘Celebrating Women: Above and Beyond’, which aimed to celebrate the achievements of women and inspire them to fulfil their full potential. Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker at the event was the Home Secretary Rt Hon. Theresa May. (Click here for a more detailed report of her visit.) 

A panel discussion comprising other guest speakers included Baroness Barbara Young, the first female Chief Executive of Diabetes UK; Dr Devi Nair, Clinical Lead for Lipids and Cardiovascular Risk Prevention at Royal Free Hospital and Director for the Supra Regional Assay Services for Cardiac Biomarkers; Sarah Teather, Member of Parliament for Brent Central; Seema Sharma, dentist and founder of The Sharma Foundation and Operations Director for a postgraduate medical training course; Rena Amin, Chief Pharmacist for the Royal Borough of Greenwich; and PC Purnima Raval, the Metropolitan Police Service’s longest-serving female Hindu officer, with 21 years of active service. Chairing the panel was Dr Sejal Saglani, Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Respiratory Paediatrics at The Imperial College and The Royal Brompton Hospital, London. 

Delegates and guests – including Seema Malhotra, Member of Parliament for Feltham and Heston, and Krupa Sheth, Councillor for Wembley Central and former student of The Swaminarayan School – were welcomed with vibrant and colourful dance performances, illustrating an array of artistic talent among the young women. 

A ‘Vitality Show’ was organised for the afternoon, which included health, well-being and cultural activities. 

The day concluded with garba (a traditional Gujarati dance) where a fusion of traditional Indian music created an uplifting mood befitting of the occasion. 

The celebrations this year were also supporting Climate Week – Britain’s biggest climate change campaign, inspiring a new wave of action to create a sustainable future. Guests and organisers donated old and/or unwanted clothes, which will be recycled and donated to charity. 

Dr Nair spoke of the ‘positive energy that the event generated’ and the ‘inspiration she gained from listening to the achievement of other successful women as well as listening to the challenges that are embraced by women on a daily basis.’ 

Rena Amin, also one of the lead organisers of the event, explained: “This year we wanted women to really reach ‘above and beyond’ the boundaries and learn and become inspired through the experiences of others. We wanted to provide a place where an everyday, ordinary woman can realise she is special and make a valuable contribution to society.” 

Nisha Patel, 18, a delegate at the conference, shared her thoughts on the day. She said: “It is remarkable how attainable success can be when you hear from those who have been successful themselves – ordinary women who have achieved extraordinary things.” 

To learn more about International Women’s Day 2013, please click here

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

Home Secretary Attends International Women’s Day Conference
Saturday 9 March 2013

The Home Secretary Rt. Hon. Theresa May was Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker at an inspiring conference for International Women’s Day at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 9 March 2013. 

The conference, titled Celebrating Women: Above and Beyond, aimed to celebrate the achievements of women and inspire them to fulfil their potential. 

Mrs May arrived at the Mandir at 12 noon and was greeted in traditional Hindu manner with a flower garland and the tying of an auspicious thread around her wrist signifying goodwill and friendship. After touring the Mandir, she entered the assembly hall to rapturous applause. 

After being introduced to the audience, Mrs May commented on how privileged she felt at being in the company of hundreds of motivated women. She paid tribute to the sense of solidarity and friendship that she witnessed there, and praised the work of the women who were helping others selflessly and setting a fine example encouraging others to go ‘above and beyond’. 

Mrs May also commended the work of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, saying: “It was very good to see the work BAPS does, the fantastic work being done across the world to improve the lives of others, and people giving up their time generously to do it. I commend the work BAPS does and all those who are in it.” 

She went on to speak about the many government initiatives in place to encourage and support women, to ensure “women can go above and beyond and fulfil their full potential.” 

Other guest speakers included Baroness Barbara Young, the first female Chief Executive of Diabetes UK; Dr Devi Nair, Clinical Lead for Lipids and Cardiovascular Risk Prevention at Royal Free Hospital and Director for the Supra Regional Assay Services for Cardiac Biomarkers; Sarah Teather, Member of Parliament for Brent Central; Seema Sharma, dentist and founder of The Sharma Foundation and Operations Director for a postgraduate medical training course; and PC Purnima Raval, the Metropolitan Police Service’s longest-serving female Hindu officer, with 21 years of active service. 

For a fuller report about the conference, please click here.

The Swaminarayan School Receives New National Award for Able Children
Thursday 28 February 2013

The Swaminarayan Preparatory School has been recognised by the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE) with its special Challenge Award for “helping pupils achieve their best”. 

The NACE Challenge Award is recognised by external bodies, such as Ofsted, as a mark of “quality provision” which honours schools that produce high quality work and encourage pupils to achieve their best. It is regarded as “one of the most purposeful, rigorous yet supportive awards that schools can achieve.” 

The award follows the strong GCSE and A-Level results by the Secondary School received in August 2012. The Prep School has also previously been accredited with an award from the Cognitive Education Centre for being a “Thinking School” and this recent award is a testimony of the collective efforts of the staff and governors as well as the efforts of parents. 

The award was achieved after meeting requirements for ten different sets of criteria. The School prepared guides for staff and parents as well as incorporating a wide variety of teaching strategies in lessons, including practical work, use of ICT, and independent problem-solving. In addition, students were given opportunities to demonstrate leadership skills and participate in charitable services, an important ethos of the School. Examples included fundraising for organisations such as UNICEF and Prostate Cancer UK. 

The Swaminarayan Prep School, situated opposite BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, caters for pupils aged 2 to 11. 

The School’s head teacher, Umesh Raja, was presented with the award at a special ceremony at the Mandir by guests including Paralympic swimmer David Hill and former Swaminarayan School student and current Brent councillor Krupa Sheth, the youngest councillor ever (elected at age 20). 

Mr Raja explained: “This is a testament to our students’ hard work. We provide a programme for pupils to progress regardless of their ability and believe in an all-rounded education. We always aim to raise standards at all levels of the School, through parents, staff and teachers. This is the beginning of a journey.”

Speaking at the ceremony on Thursday 28 February 2013, Cllr Sheth added: “I would like to take this opportunity to commend every single person connected to this school for making it what it is today. It is a pleasure to know that the School has been accredited with the NACE Challenge Award.” 

The NACE inspector shared some comments in a report that was produced during the evaluation process: “The Swaminarayan Prep School is a school with many outstanding features. The highly aspirational parental community ensures that the school is always driving for the best possible outcomes for all pupils. Pupils are reflective and they feel their opinions are listened to. The provision for their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is exceptional and their leadership skills are deployed to very good effect. The pupils are also lively and engaged and very articulate.” 

Established in 1983, NACE specialises in working with schools and teachers to improve learning for able, gifted and talented pupils, and is recognised nationally and internationally as the UK’s leading independent education organisation in the field of education for able learners. 

To learn more about the National Association for Able Children in Education, please click here

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

Snow at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London
Saturday 4 February 2012
Mandir in Snow
Sunday 20 January 2013
BAPS UK Annual Review 2012
Tuesday 1 January 2013

We at BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha find joy in serving communities, families and individuals.
 
Find out how we enjoyed ourselves in 2012 through this brief annual review.

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Conference on ‘Living With Cancer’
Saturday 5 January 2013

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London hosted a conference on ‘Living with Cancer’ on Saturday 5 January 2013 in partnership with BAPS Charities, Macmillan Cancer Support and St Luke’s Hospice. 

The event, which was open for anyone with questions and concerns or interested in learning more about cancer, was attended by approximately 60 delegates including youths as well as the elderly. The programme followed the ‘Welfare for the Elderly’ seminar hosted by BAPS Charities in conjunction with St Luke’s in November 2012. 

The conference included discussions from patients who have been affected by cancer, sharing the importance of having a positive attitude, being open and honest about the diagnosis with family and friends, and making sure all treatments offered by the medical services are accepted. 

Tracy Neill, a Clinical Nurse Specialist and Lead Information and Support Specialist from Macmillan Cancer Support, explained the main signs and symptoms of cancer, emphasising the importance seeking medical help if any unusual symptoms persist for longer than three weeks. 

The role of the hospice was covered by David Smith, a palliative care nurse from St Luke’s Hospice in Brent. He emphasised that the hospice is not just for cancer patients but for any chronic illnesses that cannot be cured. The role of support at home and respite care was discussed, as well as the day case and in-patient facilities. Mr Smith reiterated that all services are provided free of charge. 

Finally, Karime Gangji, Information and Support Specialist from Macmillan spoke about early detection and the importance of taking up screening for cancer, which significantly increases the likelihood of a cure. 

The talks were followed by workshops which included sound therapy and relaxation demonstrations to help deal with stress and foster a positive mental attitude. A workshop educating attendees on the help available for family, carers and friends – both financial and emotional – was well received. Information stands with leaflets and specialists were open throughout the event for all to browse and ask questions. 

All delegates said they benefitted hugely from the day. One lady expressed that “hearing from the cancer patients was really helpful” and had changed her own approach and attitude, especially to friends and family. 

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

To learn more about Macmillan Cancer Support, please click here

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