News and Events

Open House London 2017
Saturday 28 October 2017

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is once again part of the Open House London festival celebrating the capital’s inspiring architectural wonders. It’s an opportunity to take an in-depth guided tour of one of London’s most iconic religious buildings. Entry is free and open to all as always.

Nilkanth Varni Decennial Celebrations
Saturday 6 September 2014

During his visit to the UK in 2004, on 6 September, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj consecrated the abhishek murti of Nilkanth Varni – the teenage form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan – at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. After performing the very first abhishek (ritual bathing) of the sacred image, he prayed for the well-being of those who come to perform the abhishek of Nilkanth Varni.

Exactly ten years on, on Saturday 6 September 2014, the decennial anniversary of the murti’s consecration was celebrated in the presence of senior sadhu Bhaktipriya Swami (Kothari Swami) at the Mandir.

The celebrations began with a mahapuja to mark this auspicious occasion and for the continued good health of His Holiness, as well as for peace to prevail throughout the world. Thereafter, Kothari Swami and sadhus performed Vedic rituals in the Nilkanth Varni Abhishek Mandap.

To commemorate this historic milestone, a grand celebration was held during the evening assembly. Following devotional singing, a series of dramas and speeches highlighted the epic journey of Nilkanth Varni across the length and breadth of India to enlighten and redeem countless souls.

A video presentation brought back fond memories of Pramukh Swami Maharaj consecrating the murti of Shri Nilkanth Varni Maharaj in London in 2004. Several real-life incidents were then shared which shed light upon the countless wishes and prayers which have been fulfilled by Shri Nilkanth Varni over the past ten years.

The celebrations continued with a beautifully choreographed and vibrant dance before Kothari Swami addressed the assembly, elaborating further upon the principles that Nilkanth Varni established along his travels and their continuation through the work of Pramukh Swami Maharaj today.

Observing International Charity Day with the British Heart Foundation
Saturday 6 September 2014

Bag It. Beat It. – the British Heart Foundation’s annual drive to raise funds for vital research – was launched at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 6 September 2014 as part of the Mandir’s wider observance of the UN International Day of Charity.

The International Day of Charity is a United Nations initiative that was established with the objective of “sensitising and mobilising people, NGOs, and stakeholders all around the world to help others through volunteer and philanthropic activities.” It is observed every year on 5 September.

The overriding message of universal involvement is underlined by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “Charity plays a significant role in the work of the United Nations and its agencies. On this International Day, I call on people everywhere to act on the charitable impulse that resides in every human being – to start giving and to keep on giving.”

The launch of the Bag It. Beat It. drive was made at the Mandir by Mr Qaim Zaidi, Ethnic Strategy Coordinator for the British Heart Foundation (BHF), during a special evening assembly where a large number of worshippers and visitors had gathered. Organised by BAPS Charities, the campaign follows several previous collaborations with BHF, from the nationwide sponsored walk in 2007 to last year’s successful Great British Bag-athon Challenge, alongside the many on-going awareness and training sessions, most recently for the provision of emergency life support training.

The Bag It. Beat It. campaign has successfully taken place each year since 2009. Instead of requesting cash donations, this initiative collects bags filled with unwanted items that could raise £20 towards life-saving research – including research behind congenital heart disease which affects over 40,000 children of school age.

Dr Mayank Shah from BAPS Charities added: “BAPS Charities is delighted to continue the on-going partnership with the British Heart Foundation, building on the success of last year’s Bag-athon and previous events. The response from the congregation at the Mandir is very encouraging and the spirit of charity and service here makes it an ideal place to promote the great work of charities such as the British Heart Foundation.”

To learn more about Bag It. Beat It., the work of the British Heart Foundation, and the International Day of Charity, please follow the respective links.

Disclaimer: BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
Images courtesy of the British Heart Foundation.

19th Anniversary Celebrations
Saturday 16 August & Wednesday 20 August 2014

Since its inauguration by Pramukh Swami Maharaj in August 1995, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London (popularly recognised as the ‘Neasden Temple’) has provided worshippers, visitors and local residents with a profound sense of spirituality, community, peace and inspiration. This spirit of reverence and service to society was celebrated on Saturday 16 August 2014 and again in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Bhaktipriya Swami (Kothari Swami), a senior sadhu visiting from India, on Wednesday 20 August 2014.

The evening programme on Saturday was themed around Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s previous visits to London and began with a video montage rekindling fond memories of the opening in 1995 as well as His Holiness’s visits to the Mandir thereafter.

Sadhus spoke about the spirit of service which the Mandir has fostered and shared inspiring incidents with Pramukh Swami Maharaj in London from previous years, encouraging devotees to strengthen their deep spiritual relationship with him.

Satyavrat Swami concluded by elucidating upon the invaluable role of mandirs in society and highlighting specific personal observances that a mandir fosters which help one progress on the spiritual path.

The ‘patotsav’ ceremony marking the anniversary of the Mandir’s opening and the calendric day that its murtis were first infused with the divine presence of God was marked with further devotion on Wednesday 20 August 2014.

The festivities included a mahapuja praising God and seeking his blessings, and the ritual bathing of Thakorji by devotees and visitors. A variety of sweet and savoury dishes were also artistically arranged before the deities in the main shrines as an offering of thanksgiving. This was followed by the evening assembly, in the presence of Kothari Swami.

The evening programme began with the traditional welcoming of Kothari Swami and other visiting sadhus. After devotional singing, a discourse by Gnanpurush Swami highlighted the positive impact the Mandir has had on the lives of individuals and families over the previous 19 years.

The programme culminated with the keynote address of Kothari Swami. He placed particular emphasis on the spirit of devotion that the Mandir has inspired, and shared several inspiring incidents from the devotional life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations
Sunday 17 August 2014

The Hindu festival of Janmashtami, marking the birth of Shri Krishna Bhagwan, takes place during the holy month of Shravan – considered to be one of the holiest months in the Hindu calendar. The occasion was devoutly celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Sunday 17 August 2014.

The day began with a ceremonial offering of food to the deities in the Mandir, where visitors and devotees arrived throughout the day to pray and offer their respects, and to swing the murti of Shri Krishna in the ‘paranu’ (birth cradle).

The life and teachings of Shri Krishna Bhagwan were presented through an enlightening evening programme which began with the devotional singing of hymns in praise of his life.

Sadhus narrated various incidents from the life of Shri Krishna, elaborating upon key aspects of spirituality with their relevance in today’s day and age.

The finale of the evening – marking the divine birth of Shri Krishna – was celebrated with the arti followed by the joyous swinging of the paranu accompanied with vibrant devotional singing.

Observing International Youth Day
Saturday 9 August August 2014

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared 12 August as International Youth Day, providing an opportunity to recognise the vital contributions young people make to our world and to celebrate their energy, imagination and initiative.

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, commemorated International Youth Day in 2014 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London on Saturday 9 August.

Drawing from the UN’s ‘World Programme of Action for Youth’, a wider charter adopted in 1995 for the new millennium and beyond, the theme for the event was ‘Shaping the Present, Nurturing the Future’.

A BAPS youth leader spoke of the hope and responsibility young people represent in our world – the hope that together we can enjoy a better tomorrow, but for which today we must fulfil our responsibility of guiding and empowering youths.

Drawing on the UN’s theme for this year’s International Youth Day, ‘Mental Health Matters’, the speaker also stressed the importance of the family, social and school environment in removing the stigma often associated with mental illnesses and embracing everyone under the ancient Hindu teaching of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – the whole world is one family.

The youths then engaged in a group activity wherein they discussed the importance of having a pure character and mind during this formative stage in life, as well as considering different ways in which they can contribute to the well-being of society.

The presentation also incorporated Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s message of ‘In the joy of others lies our own’, and highlighted various activities His Holiness has initiated for young boys and girls internationally.

In conclusion, the participants and volunteers joined in a collective prayer for the well-being of all youths around the world. They also prayed to be given the strength to study hard and serve their family, society and country to the best of their ability.

In thus observing International Youth Day, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha was able to raise awareness about correctly channelling the huge potential that lies within youths, and thereby reaffirmed its commitment to both young people and the hope they represent of a better world for us all.

To learn more about International Youth Day, please visit the United Nations’ page here.

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

Hindu New Year
Friday 24 October 2014

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
Thursday 23 October 2014

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.

International Academic Conference on Global Peace and Hindu Teachings
Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 June 2014

A three-day international academic conference on the theme of ‘Realising Global Peace: The Role and Impact of Hindu Teachings’ was hosted at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London from Tuesday 24 June to Thursday 26 June 2014.

The conference aimed to elucidate the role of peace within Hinduism and how Hindu teachings can positively contribute to not just academic scholarship but to humanity at large.

It was jointly organised by the All-India Philosophy Association, BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute, and the Indo-Hellenic Society for Culture and Development, Greece.

Over 80 delegates and guests attended the conference. They included eminent scholars and students from India, England, Ireland, America, Canada, and Australia, as well as local civic leaders and Hindu and other faith representatives.

The keynote address in the inaugural session was delivered by Prof. Jatashankar, esteemed professor of philosophy at Allahabad University, India and President of the All-India Philosophy Association. The closing session had special addresses by Dr Brian Black, Lecturer of Hinduism and Indian Philosophy at Lancaster University, and Dr Rembert Lutjeharms of Oxford University’s Faculty of Theology and Religion and the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.

The final day featured a plenary session chaired by Dr Ankur Barua of Cambridge University in which five scholar-sadhus from India, America and England – including modern-day ‘bhashyakar’ Sadhu Bhadreshdas (PhD, DLitt, Mahamahopadhyaya) – presented papers on principles and practices within the Swaminarayan Hindu tradition conducive to global peace. This session was especially well received, as Dr Black remarked: “I wanted to acknowledge how thoroughly impressed I was by our panel this morning. It’s rare to see such a wonderful example of five individuals who were drawing both from their spiritual experience as well as their very rigorous scholarly training.”

Parallel panels on the previous days covered such topics as religious identity, cultural harmony, epistemology, ethics, social philosophy, metaphysics, and Indo-Greek thought.

Dr Ramesh Chandra Sinha, Secretary for the All-India Philosophy Association, praised the arrangements and warm hospitality of the hosts, calling the conference “a gift from Pramukh Swami Maharaj”.

Conference Secretary Kirit Wadia also shared: “Hindu teachings have a lot to contribute to the quest for peace, especially as modern technology increases human connectivity and decreases distances between peoples and nations, making the need for peace even more pronounced for individuals and societies. We are very grateful to His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj for providing this theme and to all the delegates for contributing such rich discussions over the three days.”

Observing World Environment Day
Thursday 5 June 2014

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 stimulates worldwide awareness for the environment and encourages positive 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 reiterating last year’s theme of THINK.EAT.SAVE REDUCE YOUR FOODPRINT, and building upon the UN Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge

The presentation was displayed at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London throughout the week and an announcement also took place in assemblies on Saturday 31 May 2014. It comprised a series of eye-opening facts about food wastage and practical tips on safely cutting back. 

DID YOU KNOW: A third of global food production is either wasted or lost – even as 1 billion people go to bed hungry and 20,000 children under the age of 5 die from starvation every day.

–   Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN  

To help reduce wastage and lessen the burden on global resources, devotees and visitors were encouraged to make a number of small but important lifestyle changes. These included: 

  • DON’T buy more food than you really need
  • FREEZE IT! Freeze fresh produce and leftovers if you won’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad
  • GROW an organic garden and your own delicious food
  • GET SMART about less waste, great taste – plan meals, use shopping lists and avoid impulse buys
  • EAT ORGANIC and locally grown foods and help reduce the clearing of forests for agricultural land 

The initiative continues the on-going efforts of the Mandir in raising awareness about and supporting positive change for the environment. Other relevant projects include observing Earth Hour and recycling clothes for Climate Week

To learn more about the UN’s THINK.EAT.SAVE campaign, please click here

For more information about World Environment Day and the Zero Hunger Challenge, please follow the respective links. 

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

Over 1,500 Participate in Annual Charity Challenge
Sunday 27 April 2014

From toddlers through to senior citizens in their nineties, over 1,500 members of the local community raised funds and awareness for a variety of good causes in a fun and healthy charity event at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Sunday 27 April 2014. 

This year’s ‘10K Challenge’, organised annually by BAPS Charities, partnered with Diabetes UK, the leading charity that cares for, connects with and campaigns on behalf of every person affected by or at risk of diabetes – including the 3.8 million people in the UK that are currently diagnosed with the condition. 

As part of the Challenge, participants were asked to walk 10 kilometres, while for the more energetic, there was an option to jog or even run the distance. Despite the damp weather, all those taking part showed tremendous high spirits and enthusiasm. 

The Challenge this year builds on 20 years of sponsored events. Previous national charity partners have included Macmillan Cancer Research, Barnardo’s, The Anthony Nolan Trust, The British Heart Foundation, Breast Cancer Care, Age UK, KIDS, as well as Diabetes UK. 

The event kicked-off shortly after 9am in the presence of Baroness Barbara Young, CEO of Diabetes UK. Also present to offer his support was The Worshipful Mayor of the London Borough of Brent Cllr Bobby Thomas, as were Cllrs Muhammed Butt, Zaffar Van Kalwala, Paul Lorber, Suresh Kansagra, Colum Moloney, and Ketan Sheth. In addition, PPCs Ibrahim Taguri, Kishan Devani and John Detre were also at the event. 

Prominent members of the Punjab National Bank, who had contributed generously to the event, also joined the opening ceremony. The event was also supported by local companies who had kindly donated healthy refreshments for the walkers and runners. 

Addressing the gathering, Barbara Young reiterated that Diabetes UK is “incredibly pleased to be associated with the Challenge.” Noting that diabetes particularly affects the South Asian community, she added that Diabetes UK was pleased to join BAPS Charities in helping people become aware of and deal with the condition. 

She continued by saying: “We are particularly pleased to be working with your [BAPS Charities] healthcare team who work tirelessly to bring an excellent service.” The Baroness also offered her support for the diabetes screening sessions that are regularly organised at the Mandir by BAPS Charities. 

The Mayor also addressed the assembly. “It is perhaps very fitting,” he said, “because here in Brent we are probably the borough that is affected most by diabetes. It is also good to see youngsters taking part for a good cause. I hope today is about healthy lifestyle and that you enjoy the walk and run.” 

After a traditional opening ceremony at the ceremonial gate of the Mandir, walkers, joggers and runners moved along the route from the Mandir towards the picturesque King Edward VII Park in Wembley where participants completed two circuits before returning to the Mandir. 

BAPS Charities volunteer Dr Sejal Saglani added, “We are very grateful to Diabetes UK who have worked closely with BAPS Charities to raise awareness about diabetes. We believe that this year’s Challenge has been even more popular despite the weather and are hopeful that generous sums will have been raised to help the charity with their excellent work.” 

Similar events are being held by BAPS Charities at several other centres around the country, bringing the national total to around 4,000 participants. 

For further information about BAPS Charities, please click here

To learn more about the work of Diabetes UK, please click here

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

Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi Celebrations
Tuesday 8 & Saturday 12 April 2014

The festivals of Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi were celebrated with great joy and devotion on Tuesday 8 April 2014 and in the presence of Sadguru Tyagvallabhdas Swami on Saturday 12 April 2014 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. 

The festivities began from the morning on Chaitra sud 9 (Tuesday 8 April), the actual birthdate according to the Hindu calendar of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Bhagwan Rama. A traditional annakut (ceremonial offering of food) was artistically arranged in the shrines before the murtis. 

Sadhus performed a special arti at noon to commemorate the birth of Shri Ramachandraji.

The theme of the evening festival for Swaminarayan Jayanti was ‘Sarvopari Shri Hari’. Through an array of enlightening discourses from sadhus and lively bhajans, the key messages revolved around Bhagwan Swaminarayan as being supreme, ever-present, and the all-doer. As the finale neared, the murti of Harikrishna Maharaj arrived inside the assembly hall amid a grand procession as youths danced to welcome him. The janmotsav arti was joyously sung at precisely 10.10pm to mark the auspicious birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

Devotees also gathered to celebrate this momentous occasion on Saturday 12 April 2014. The celebrations began with devotional singing followed by an enthralling drama, also entitled ‘Sarvopari Shri Hari’, expertly interluded with relevant hymns.

Travelling back in time, historical characters in successive scenes asked questions about the spiritual person of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. These were all answered by drawing from Hindu scriptures and those of the Swaminarayan tradition. Shrijikirtandas Swami, visiting from India, expanded on these points by further referencing incidents from the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. 

The climax of the programme was the keynote address by Tyagvallabhdas Swami, who elaborated upon the divine life and work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan while also incorporating incidents from the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. 

The festival concluded with a vibrant and colourful dance which once again culminated with the arrival of Harikrishna Maharaj through a grand procession. 

The women’s forum will be hosting another festival at the Mandir on Saturday 19 April 2014.

BAPS Charities Annual Challenge
Sunday 12 April 2015

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 beneficiaries, the British Heart Foundation and Rosa, a fund for women and girls in the UK.

Neasden Temple Turns Off Lights for Earth Hour 2014
29 March 2014

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir joined millions of people in the world’s biggest environmental event by observing Earth Hour at 8:30pm on Saturday 29 March 2014.

Starting in New Zealand, Earth Hour made its way through a record 158 countries and territories passing all seven continents – including Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa, then to

North and South America, and even to Antarctica – before it concluded in Tahiti.

Amongst the landmarks that switched off non-essential lights were Times Square and the Rockefeller Centre in New York, the India Gate in New Delhi, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and, for the first time, the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor.

In the UK, some notable buildings including Buckingham Palace, the Gherkin, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Wembley Stadium also joined in.

The Mandir is committed to going “beyond the hour in leading a greener life,” explained Yogesh Patel, a volunteer at the Mandir, adding, “This respect for nature is deeply rooted in Hindu values and teachings espoused by Bhagwan Swaminarayan and our spiritual leader Pramukh Swami Maharaj.”

Projects including a recycling event for Climate Week in 2013, the ‘Big Tidy Up’ in Brent and the cleaning of the local Brent Feeder Canal, celebrating World Environment Day, and being presented with an ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ as part of the  Brent in Bloom garden competition demonstrates its commitment to raise awareness about and make a positive impact upon the local environment.

Earth Hour was also observed at BAPS Swaminarayan 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.
  • In 2014, the number of countries joining the event has extended to 158.
  • 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.

Cardiovascular Screening Session
22 March 2014

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London hosted a cardiovascular screening session on 22 March 2014. The event was organised by BAPS Charities in conjunction with the Royal Free Hospital. 

Twenty-five volunteers from BAPS Charities assisted three highly qualified consultants in screening 27 patients. Nineteen people with a Body Mass Index of greater than 25 were discovered and 16 were identified as having above-average levels of cholesterol. Four visitors registered high blood pressure and five cases of diabetes risks were also identified. 

Blood samples taken on the day were also sent to the Royal Free Hospital for further tests. 

The findings are in line with national statistics which indicate that the prevalence of chronic conditions – such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke – is up to six times higher in the South Asian community and occurs from a younger age amongst this group of people. 

The session provided valuable information and helped many become aware of the necessary lifestyle changes needed to avoid health complications. One of the participants shared: “I have taken so many aspects of my lifestyle for granted. But with the guidance of experts who could explain the facts to me clearly, I will be making the necessary changes for a healthier lifestyle.” 

The Mandir hosts such screening sessions regularly. For details of the previous event, please click here

Holi Celebrations
Sunday 16 March 2014

Holi is known as the ‘festival of colours’, and marks the joyous arrival of spring when Hindus celebrate its beauty, energy and vitality. The sacred images in the Mandir were thus duly adorned with beautiful coloured clothing on Sunday 16 March 2014. 

There are many significant events and beliefs associated with Holi. One of the most renowned is the protection of young Prahlad by Lord Nrusinh from a burning fire instigated by his demoniac father King Hiranyakashipu. Holi therefore celebrates the burning of evil instincts and the saving grace of God, when worshippers make offerings into a bonfire and reverently walk around it. 

Also associated with Holi is fertility and the Vedic ritual of offering the first spring harvest to Agni, the fire deity. Devotees and members of the local community availed of the newly harvested grains after offering them to the devas. In keeping with this ancient custom, hundreds of devotees offered grains and coconuts into a bonfire lit in the open grounds of The Swaminarayan School from 5pm in the evening. 

Celebrating International Women’s Day
Saturday 8 March 2014

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London welcomed more than 1,100 women on Saturday 8 March 2014 to celebrate International Women’s Day. 

The day, recognised by the United Nations, was celebrated with an inspiring conference titled ‘The Strength Within’, which aimed to reinforce the delegates’ resilience, build their self-belief, and harness their inner strength. 

Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker at the event was Tessa Sanderson CBE, six-time British Olympian and a gold medal-winner at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. 

Addressing the gathering, Ms Sanderson began by saying she was “delighted to be here” before going on to share through personal examples what International Women’s Day means to her – “grasping an opportunity” and being “mentally and physical prepared to take and face challenges.” She discussed the “full-time job that was involved in winning the Olympic gold medal in 1984,” and urged the audience to have “self-confidence and belief.”

After the plenary session, Ms Sanderson visited a selection of the workshops that had been organised to help women strengthen their resolve. These were supported by seminars to convey practical lessons in overcoming everyday obstacles and realising one’s full potential. 

Vibrant cultural performances, including a colourful dance and an expertly performed mono-act, depicted the many talents that women possess. Other activities, including an arts and crafts stall, meditation and yoga, and a focus on the environment through a gardening workshop, provided depth and variety to the event. Important discussions on bullying and health were also very well received. Members of the British Heart Foundation, who were one of the sponsors for the programme, were also on hand to offer advice and guidance. 

The concluding session of the event explored the importance of faith through a variety of mediums, including a lively debate. 

Other guests at the event included Cllr Ansuya Sodha and Cllr Krupa Sheth, as well as Dr Suman Datta, Jennette Arnold (Member of the London Assembly), Mei Sim Lai Peters OBE (Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the Borough of Brent), PC Purnima Raval (the Metropolitan Police Service’s longest-serving female Hindu officer), Lt Col. Colette MacDonald (Diversity Manager for the Army), and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Dawn Butler. 

The event proved highly educative and inspirational for the delegates, as one young attendee later shared: “I genuinely believe in myself more now. The keynote address and the many informative workshops have given me the tools to achieve more and make a greater impact in life.” 

Rupal Patel, one of the lead organisers of the event, added: “Helping women of all ages find their ‘inner strength’ and get the best out of themselves was an important objective of the conference. Hopefully the many determined women who shared their life-experiences today will inspire many more to follow them in achieving something special in life.” 

Upon departing from the Mandir, Ms Sanderson further shared: “This temple is simply beautiful. The work done by women of all ages is equally inspirational and the spirit of volunteerism is unmatched.”

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

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