News and Events

UK Launch of ‘Transcendence’ In Memoriam of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
Wednesday 2 September 2015

The former President of India, the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, was honoured in a special memorial assembly at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London with the launch of his final book, Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji, on Wednesday 2 September 2015.

The event, an integral part of the year-long celebrations to mark the Mandir’s 20th anniversary, was a tribute to Dr Kalam’s lifetime of dedicated service and contribution to India and the world.

Present for the ceremony was a gathering of senior BAPS swamis, including Sadguru Pujya Mahant Swami, Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami and Pujya Atmaswarup Swami, as well as His Excellency Ranjan Mathai, High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom, and other highly distinguished guests, civic leaders and community representatives.

After the traditional lighting of the holy lamps to inaugurate the auspicious occasion, Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami introduced the work of the Mandir in London over the past 20 years in serving worshippers, well-wishers and the local community. He also thanked the constellation of guests for their invaluable support and goodwill in this lofty endeavour.

Pujya Atmaswarup Swami, currently head of Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi, then introduced Transcendence with the help of inspiring video presentations. They highlighted Dr Kalam’s spiritual and philosophical transformations during his fourteen-year friendship with His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Dr Kalam explicitly cites the inspiration he obtained from Pramukh Swami’s leadership of BAPS, and shares his vision for a society in which science and spirituality are fused.

In his keynote address, Mr Mathai paid tribute to both Dr Kalam as statesman, scientist and rishi, and the London Mandir, “the great jewel of Indian tradition and culture on British soil,” citing Dr Kalam’s description of it in Transcendence as “an incredible combination of heaven on earth.”

The High Commissioner went on to say: “You have provided a shining example of the greatness of India’s highest spiritual traditions in this foreign land. This extraordinary artistic achievement is a contribution to British and indeed world culture. Your commitment to social causes, betterment of lives and encouragement to the young has made you a living centre for the wider Indian community in the UK. Your example has helped to build the image of Indians in this country, and much credit goes to you for being open to both Indian and British traditions.”

Concluding the ceremony and citing several passages from Transcendence, especially an interview of Nelson Mandela, Pujya Mahant Swami urged the audience to not only read the book, but to imbibe its messages. “It is a universal book, for people of all faiths, nations, ethnicities and vocations, because it is about higher values such as peace, spirituality, tolerance, patience and service.” This, he explained, would be the highest tribute to Dr Kalam’s life, work and legacy.

BAPS Charities Donates £25,000 to British Heart Foundation
Saturday 29 August 2015

BAPS Charities presented a cheque for £25,000 to the British Heart Foundation at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 29 August 2015.

The funds were raised by thousands of people of all ages – from young children through to senior individuals in their nineties – who participated in the BAPS Charities Annual Challenge that began earlier this year.

This year’s Challenge offered an opportunity for fundraisers to embrace various physical activities, ranging from a 10-kilometre walk or run, through to tandem skydives and bike rides from London to Brighton or London to Paris.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Director of the British Heart Foundation, was present to receive the cheque on behalf of the “nation’s largest independent funder of cardiovascular research”.

Following the presentation, Dr Knapton addressed the assembly and spoke of the impact that BAPS Charities’ contribution will have. “The £25,000 that you have so generously donated,” he said, “will support training for children and adults in basic life support. We can save thousands of lives with the money you have so generously donated to us.”

Dr Mayank Shah, a lead volunteer for BAPS Charities, added: “It is very rewarding to hear that the efforts of volunteers and participants in this year’s Challenge will help to save lives of people suffering a cardiac arrest. We are delighted to partner with the British Heart Foundation to achieve this and look forward to continuing our long-standing support of their great work.”

20th Anniversary Finale Celebrations
Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 August 2015

A young boy holds a decorated oil lamp to the shrine of the Mandir. The doors open and the divine and resplendent murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan is witnessed on the giant screen by thousands gathered inside the assembly hall – where the child then appears holding the lamp to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s image. The live figure of a boy and a montage of breath-taking video clips are melded to create the opening sequence for the 20th anniversary celebrations of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.

The grand festival was held at the Mandir in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Mahant Swami (Keshavjivan Swami), Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami, Pujya Atmaswarup Swami and visiting sadhus from India on Saturday 22 August and again on Sunday 23 August 2015.

Through creative three-dimensional projection mapping, innovative visual effects, and a series of inspiring video presentations and enlightening discourses, a team of more than 190 performers and crew brought to life the history, memories and future of London Mandir in a spectacular three-hour production.

Ishwarcharan Swami first provided contextual history to the occasion by elaborating on Yogiji Maharaj’s vision from his visit to London in 1970. Atmaswarup Swami and others continued the journey by recalling the tremendous sacrifice and devotion of thousands of worshippers and well-wishers during the planning and construction of the Mandir as well as honouring those who have continued to give their untiring support since its opening.

A colourful musical stage performance revived the devotional vibrancy experienced during the Mandir Mahotsav in 1995 as part of the events leading to its opening on 20 August. The culmination of the dances was an emotional recreation of the first arti in the Mandir in front of a panoramic backdrop of the shrines.

Emotive testimonies by devotees and sadhus spoke of the profound impact of the Mandir on individuals, families and the community over the past 20 years. The wider impressions conveyed through local, national and international media were also shared.

Memories that have been shared, heard and felt were captured through the thoughts of sadhus who have experienced its spirituality. The treasure trove of such memories of Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the Mandir was fondly relived through a touching video compilation. Swamishri also provided a fresh new memory to cherish, as he sent blessings for the celebrations from Sarangpur, India while he watched the programme live.

A look towards the future became the focus thereafter. Mahant Swami reinforced messages of personal spirituality and unity that will become the foundation for devotees and volunteers for the next 20 years and beyond.

A vibrant finale dance was followed by a concluding prayer made on behalf of everyone by the young child who had earlier opened the evening’s festivities. The joyous occasion was brought to a close with the news that the iconic arch of Wembley Stadium had been illuminated in orange in honour of the Mandir’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

As everyone departed, they were treated to a creative visual presentation projected onto the main steps of the Mandir, with the whole façade of the complex coming to life with colourful lighting effects.

Rath Yatra Festival
Saturday 18 July 2015

Rath Yatra, the Hindu ‘Festival of Chariots’, was joyously celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on Saturday 18 July 2015 with chanting, music, and the traditional pulling of the murtis on an elegantly decorated chariot.

Community Health Fair
Saturday 11 July 2015

As part of its ongoing 20th anniversary celebrations, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir welcomed BAPS Charities and various leading healthcare charities for an interactive community health fair on Saturday 11 July 2015. More than 475 people attended.

A key objective of the event was to consolidate the extensive health awareness activities that are provisioned to the local community by BAPS Charities throughout the year, and to convey important messages of safe and healthy living.

Some of the screenings, seminars, workshops, exhibitions and information stalls available throughout the day included the following:

  • Blood Pressure Screening
  • Cholesterol Screening
  • Body Fat and Glucose Screening
  • Cardiovascular Assessment
  • Carotid Doppler
  • Dietary Advice
  • Diabetes Care
  • Eye Checks
  • Feet Checks
  • CPR Demonstrations and Hands-On Training
  • Dental Care and Hygiene
  • Child Dental Checks
  • Cancer Awareness, Prevention and Screening
  • Organ, Bone Marrow and Blood Donation
  • Health and Well-Being for the Elderly
  • Children’s Health Awareness
  • Allergies, Eczema and Asthma
  • Safety in the Home
  • Medicines Advice and Education
  • Keeping an Active and Healthy Mind

Guests present at the opening of the Fair included Leader of Brent Council Cllr Muhammed Butt, Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, and Bridget Turner, Director of Policy and Care Improvement at Diabetes UK.

Simon Gillespie spoke of his positive experiences and the specific benefits for members of the community through the event. He said: “It has been a great pleasure to be here today with so many other charities involved with the wonderful work that BAPS Charities has been doing. It is really important that people can engage with healthcare professionals in settings and surroundings that they are familiar and comfortable in – so that they can ask questions and listen to the responses in a way that’s not stressful.”

A young member of the local community mentioned how she had benefitted from the “positive conversations I was able to have with professionals regarding a wide range of health issues that concern me as a South Asian mother.”

Michelle Laserna, a senior marketing coordinator for NHS Blood and Transplant, shared her appreciation of BAPS Charities volunteers. She said: “I’m in awe of the generosity, selfless acts of kindness and the general compassion you all have to just help people. It’s incredible!”

The programme was supported by a number of charity organisations, including Age UK, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Anthony Nolan, Breast Cancer Care, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Culture Dementia, Diabetes UK, London Ambulance Service, Mind, National Kidney Federation, NHS Blood and Transplant, and the Royal Free Hospital.

School Summer Fair
Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 June 2015

Since its opening in August 1995, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London has organised many events to bring the local community together. Over the past 20 years, the annual Swaminarayan School Summer Fair has provided a cultural and entertaining day out for parents, students and supporters of the School as well as nearby residents and visitors.

This year, the Fair was held at the School over the weekend of 20 and 21 June. The event proved to be very popular once again, offering fun rides, vibrant stage performances, and an array of sumptuous vegetarian food. There were also various stalls selling arts and crafts and promoting health and well-being.

As part of the Mandir’s 20th anniversary celebrations, guided tours were organised, providing visitors with personalised memories from photographs captured in front of the Mandir.

A special exhibition titled ‘Mandir: Creation, Culture & Contributions’ gave an insight into the history of the Mandir and illustrated its cultural and community contributions. The interactive components included large jigsaw puzzles symbolising the construction of the Mandir, and a series of posters capturing the timeline of events leading to the Mandir’s opening.

The two-day event provided a memorable celebration of the Mandir’s values for all who attended.

Observing World Environment Day
Friday 5 June 2015

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 supporting this year’s theme, Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.

The presentation was displayed at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London throughout the week and delivered during the evening assembly on Saturday 6 June 2015. It comprised a series of inspirational tips and eye-opening facts about safely reducing consumption.

DID YOU KNOW: The human race today consumes resources the equivalent of 1.5 planets. If current consumption and production patterns remain the same, and with a rising population, we will need two planets by 2030 to accommodate our ways of living and consumption. This is simply unsustainable.

–   United Nations Environment Programme  

The theme expressed the simple fact that the current collective lifestyles of people all over the world exceeds our planet’s capacity to replenish natural resources. For all seven billion of us, our present and our future depend on the sustainable consumption of our planet’s resources.

To ‘Consume With Care’, the presentation reiterated seven suggestions from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to help reduce waste and lessen the burden on global resources. Devotees and visitors were encouraged to make a number of small but important lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Change to energy-efficient lighting
  • Recycle aluminium and glass
  • Recycle old devices
  • Bike to work
  • Telecommute
  • Dine in
  • Fix leaky pipes

The presentation echoed the words of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, that individual actions when multiplied can have an exponential impact on the planet. Together, we can make a difference.

To learn more about World Environment Day and the UNEP’s Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care. campaign, please follow the respective links.

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

Community Health Fair
Saturday 11 July 2015

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is hosting a community health fair with health awareness advice and practical activities for the whole family.

Join us on Saturday 11 July 2015 from 10am to 5pm for a variety of interactive sessions and info stalls being led by various charities, including Age UK, British Heart Foundation, Breast Cancer Care, Diabetes UK, and Mind Brent. There will also be a health awareness exhibition and short seminars on topics such as keeping your heart healthy, signs and symptoms of cancer, and a healthy mind, a healthy body.


Volunteers Create Rangoli Art at Kew Gardens Festival
Saturday 23 May 2015

Volunteers from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir participated in the Kew Gardens ‘Full of Spice’ festival by creating a colourful rangoli made with an array of spices.

Rangoli is a traditional art form originating in India that uses colours to create intricate designs and patterns.

Visitors at the launch of the event on Saturday 23 May were treated to an artistic depiction of a peacock with supporting flora and fauna.

The volunteers took several hours to create the rangoli using a range of spices and seeds found at Kew. This included turmeric, chillies, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, mustard seeds, fennel, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, and others.

Similar rangoli decorations can be seen at the Mandir during large festivals, such as Diwali, where the colourful designs can take days, if not weeks, to create, due to their size and intricacy.

Dipti Parekh, a volunteer from the Mandir, was part of the team of ten creating the rangoli to mark the launch of the ‘Full of Spice’ festival. She explained: “Rangolis are beautiful pieces of art that can brighten up any surrounding, and we’re really pleased to be able to bring a flavour of India to Kew Gardens in this way. The rangoli, as well as everything else on offer during the festival, really will be a feast for all the senses and we hope people can enjoy and learn from what’s on offer here.”

The Full of Spice festival at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew explores the botanical origins of these mystical commodities, from the distant lands in which they grow, to the botanists authenticating them at Kew for hundreds of years.

To learn more about the Full of Spice festival, running at Kew from 23 May to 6 September, please click here.

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

Neighbours Appreciation Day
Thursday 21 May 2015

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London has fostered a profound sense of community spirit since its inauguration in August 1995.

As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, more than 150 local residents were hosted at the Mandir on Thursday 21 May 2015. Invitees included representatives from the three local schools, businesses (including IKEA, Tesco and Europcar), staff at the nearby health centre, clergy from the local churches, and the neighbourhood police.

Guests were welcomed and personally looked after by a team of dedicated volunteers. Upon arrival, each had their photograph taken with the Mandir backdrop which was later gifted to them as a memento of their visit.

The visitors enjoyed a special guided tour which included an exhibition explaining the multifarious activities organised by the Mandir. After a video about the Mandir’s making and its current role as a hub of community services, everyone was again thanked by the Board of Trustees for their years of support and friendship, stretching back over 33 years in some cases.

Girish Patel, one of the volunteers at the Mandir, explained, “The Mandir opened in 1995 as Europe’s first traditional Hindu temple. Since then, it has become a valued part of Britain’s religious landscape and earned international acclaim for its architectural beauty. In all these years though, even while we’ve had royalty, heads of state and various celebrities visit, we have never lost sight of one of our most important supporters – our neighbours.”

A sumptuous vegetarian meal followed where neighbours shared more of their personal experiences of living near the ‘Neasden Temple’. They departed with a greater understanding of the Mandir’s local, national and international contributions and a deeper sense of pride and appreciation for this iconic building in their neighbourhood.

One of the residents later shared: “Thank you for a wonderful evening. You made us all feel very special and part of your community. Everyone we met could not do enough for us and appeared happy that we were with you all. The Mandir is an amazing place, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.”

Elderly Appreciation Day
Sunday 10 May 2015

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London has welcomed worshippers and visitors from the local community and around the country, as well from abroad, since it first opened its doors in August 1995.

This year, as the Mandir celebrates its 20th anniversary, many events have been organised to thank various groups of people for their continued support and commitment.

Central to its establishment and various ongoing activities has been the dedicated support of elderly volunteers. On Sunday 10 May 2015, a special event was organised at the Mandir to celebrate their efforts in helping build the Mandir over 20 years ago and to appreciate their dedicated services to this day.

Guests were warmly welcomed by a team of volunteers at the entrance gate. Upon arrival, each had their photograph taken with the Mandir backdrop which was later gifted to them as a memento of their visit.

The senior volunteers were then entertained by musicians, comedians, a colourful dance, various games and presentations, and a magic show, before being treated to a sumptuous vegetarian meal.

Sadhus and trustees of the Mandir also offered their personal notes of appreciation, thanking everyone for their invaluable contribution over the years.

The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all who were able to attend, and many offered their personal testimonies. One elderly lady remarked: “When I walked inside the dining hall, I could not believe what I saw. The effort was phenomenal. I feel so deeply touched.” Another volunteer, a senior gentleman, added: “You did all this for us! The whole event was simply overwhelming, bringing back so many memories of when the Mandir was being built. Thank you for making us feel so special.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron Visits Neasden Temple
Saturday 2 May 2015

The Rt Hon. Prime Minister David Cameron MP visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 2 May 2015 in the run up to the general elections.

Below is a transcript of the speech he delivered to the assembly after visiting the upper sanctum and before meeting several of the worshippers.

Jai Swaminarayan.

This is the third time I’ve been to Neasden Mandir, and I want to thank you for the warmth and kindness you have always shown Samantha and me when we’ve visited.

Thank you for all your help in organising the Diwali receptions I’ve held at Downing Street these past five years, and particularly for the fantastic food and delicacies you’ve provided. I like to think I’m pretty good in the kitchen, but I certainly couldn’t have managed that myself.

And I want to send my good wishes to His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. I wish him the very best of health.

It’s great to be here. It’s always great to be here. I go around the country, I see our iconic buildings and statues – Stonehenge, the Angel of the North, Big Ben. And I’ll tell you what: Neasden Mandir is one of them; one of our great British landmarks. The first traditional Hindu temple built in Europe wasn’t in Germany, or France, or Spain. It was here in Britain – right here in Neasden – and I’m so proud of that.

I know this is a big year for you – the temple’s 20th anniversary. I think of everything that went into creating it: the 3000 tonnes of Bulgarian limestone, the 1200 tonnes of Italian marble, the 1500 sculptors in India, the countless hours of volunteering by young and old. It really was a labour of love – and it really is a thing of beauty, a marvel. And I know the celebrations here this summer will be equally spectacular. The swamis and trustees here certainly know how to organise the best show in town.

You know, I come here, and there’s a lot that stands out – the dedication of the volunteers, the music, the dance and language classes, the sheer size of the congregation. But for me what stands out most is this: the values. British Hindu values. If we want to make Britain better, we could do a lot worse than taking Hinduism as an inspiration.

I think of one of the Hindu goals of life, “dharma” – duty and right conduct. I see it around the country – in the fundraising you do for charities, like the Nepal Earthquake Appeal, which you’ve already responded to in such a big way; in the work you do as doctors, teachers, police, throughout our public services; in your communities – always looking out for one another, always putting family first; in our Government – with the work of excellent Ministers like Priti Patel; and in the vast contribution the Gujarati community makes to Britain. That’s something we can heed in Government and throughout public life. And I believe we are. Every single day we say “we will do our duty by those who need us”.

We’ll make the difficult decisions so we can increase the budget of the health service that cares for so many of us. We’ll continue driving up standards in education, and opening brilliant new schools – because we believe in giving children the tools they need to get on in life. We’ll commit to cutting taxes for the lowest paid – and in this Parliament we’ve taken three million people out of income tax altogether. We’ll make sure we protect our elderly – increasing their State Pension by a decent amount each year and protecting their Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes, TV licences and prescriptions.

All these things have one aim: to give you security at every stage of your life. And we can only do them because, like you, we believe you’ve got to be careful with money, and strong economic foundations are fundamental to everything.

But I’m not just in politics to make the numbers on the graph go in the right direction. I’ve got big ambitions for Britain, for everyone in this country. Last week I launched my 2020 vision – ambitions for Britain’s diverse communities over the next five years. For people from ethnic minorities – 20 per cent more jobs; 20 per cent more students; a 20 per cent increase in apprenticeship take-up; 20,000 Start-Up Loans for new businesses; 20 per cent of new recruits in the police, and on our way to 20 per cent in the Army too; and for our party, 20 per cent of candidates in retirement seats. That’s my 2020 vision.

It comes back to a clear belief that Britain will only be the best it can be if its people are all they can be.

I know that in these areas – in student numbers, in jobs, in apprenticeships, in Parliamentary seats – it will be the British Hindu community that leads the way. And I know that leadership will start right here in Neasden. So they’re my big ambitions for Britain.

But I want to end by sharing some personal ambitions with you. I want to visit some of the temples you are building in America. I want to see your iconic Akshardham monument in Delhi – I haven’t got round to visiting yet, but I will definitely make it there. I want to welcome Prime Minister Modi to Britain at the earliest opportunity. And yes – I met him in Brisbane, I was proud to be one of the first leaders to congratulate him. And I know how pleased you are to see a dynamic Prime Minister taking India forwards. 

But I have an ambition that is more imminent. That can be fulfilled in five days. We have ahead of us the most important election in a generation. On it rests the future of everyone in this country. It’s the difference between carrying on building a strong economy – or letting all our hard work and sacrifices go to waste. Seeing our schools continue to be transformed – or letting them slide back. Backing businesses so they can create millions more jobs – or putting all of them at risk. Having the money we need to cut taxes, protect our NHS, provide free childcare – or putting them all in danger. That’s the difference between a Conservative Government and a Labour Government – and it would be felt by every community in our country. 

So this is my ambition: in five days, Phir Ek Bar Cameron Sarkaar. And you can help deliver it, by voting for the excellent candidates we’ve got here today: Bob Blackman, Hannah David, Matthew Offord, Alan Mendoza.

So once again, thank you for having me. Thank you for everything you do to make Britain great.

Jai Swaminarayan.

Nepal Earthquake Appeal
Sunday 26 April 2015

BAPS Charities is collecting funds to support the victims of the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in more than 80 years.

On Saturday 25 April, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck an area of central Nepal, while a 6.7-magnitude tremor was felt less than 50 miles from the capital, Kathmandu, causing widespread devastation. Strong aftershocks continued to hit the region on Sunday 26 April.

As a result, more than 5,000 people are reported to have been killed with thousands more injured and countless homeless and affected.

Prayers were held at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on Saturday evening in the presence of senior sadhus, including Sadguru Ishwarcharan Swami who was visiting the UK from India.

His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj also offered his prayers and condolences on behalf of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha to the families of all those who have been killed or injured in the earthquake. He prayed for everyone displaced or affected, including the thousands rendered homeless by this disaster. He said: “May we all remain strong and united in the face of this calamity and overcome it by helping each other.” 

The Mandir is urging communities to lend their support to the rescue and relief mission by donating via the BAPS Charities website at  

Yogesh Patel, volunteer for BAPS Charities, added: “The people of Nepal have suffered unimaginable trauma due to this disaster. At times like this, it’s more important than ever for people to come together and help those less fortunate – which is why we are urging those who can to donate funds via this trusted source to support rescue missions, and help the area and those affected to rebuild their lives.”

To donate via the secured giving site, please click here.

Annual Charity Challenge in Support of British Heart Foundation and Rosa
Sunday 12 April 2015

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir kicked off the BAPS Charities Annual 10k Challenge in north London on Sunday 12 April 2015.

In total, over 3,000 participants walked or ran the 10 kilometres in about 20 towns and cities across the UK. The annual event brings together people of all ages and backgrounds around the country to do something healthy and fun and to raise valuable funds for a variety of worthy causes.

The official partner for BAPS Charities this year is the British Heart Foundation, the the largest independent funder of cardiovascular research. The Challenge will also raise funds for Rosa, a charitable fund set up to support initiatives that benefit women and girls in the UK.

Previous national partners have included Barnardo’s, Breast Cancer Care, Diabetes UK, Age UK, KIDS, The Anthony Nolan Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support as well as the British Heart Foundation.

The annual challenge has evolved since its inception over 20 years ago. This year offered participants one of four very different physical feats to complete: the traditional 10km walk or run, a bike ride from London to Brighton or Paris, a gruelling Spartan Challenge, and for the really adventurous, a tandem skydive.

The event in London kicked off from the Mandir shortly after 10am in the presence of Dr Virander Paul, Deputy High Commissioner for India in London, The Mayor of Brent Cllr Kana Naheerathan, Lord Popat and Lord Ahmad as well as various local councillors. Sarah Lennon, Regional Head of Community Fundraising at the British Heart Foundation and Samantha Rennie, Executive Director of Rosa were also present.

In his brief address, Dr Paul spoke of the ‘Indian values and traditions that’ events such as the 10k Challenge fosters. He also touched on BAPS Charities’ achievements in areas of education, sport, medical support and the environment which have “made a positive difference to not only the Indian community but to the British society at large.”

Ms Lennon discussed the work that is being undertaken to improve the ‘out of hospital’ cardiac arrest survival rates and, in particular, training of schoolchildren to conduct CPR. “With your help today, we are hoping to provide these kits to local schools so that young people and children won’t be frightened if they see someone having a heart attack.”

Ms Rennie firstly praised the integral role of women within BAPS after witnessing the recent International Women’s Day celebrations at the Mandir. She added: “We’re delighted with the support this event has provided for our work. We’re also very pleased to mark a new partnership with BAPS which will help raise more funds for vital work and help spread the message that investing in women makes a big difference to the whole community.”

Lead volunteer for BAPS Charities Dr Mayank Shah shared: “We’re very proud to continue our long-running partnership with the British Heart Foundation and begin a new one with Rosa. We hope that this event will enable them to continue their great work and to help raise awareness about these important challenges in our community. It was especially heart-warming to see the enthusiasm in so many young children, youths as well as the elderly who are taking part today.”

The sunny spring weather helped to create a thoroughly enjoyable experience for all participants. Nisha Patel, 13, shared: “It’s great to walk with friends knowing that what you are doing is helping a good cause, and I hope I can learn how to save a life too.”

To learn more about the British Heart Foundation and Rosa, please follow the respective links.

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

Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi Celebrations
Saturday 28 March 2015

The festivals of Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi were joyously celebrated with a variety of devotional activities on Saturday 28 March 2015 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.

The festivities began from the morning on Chaitra sud 9 – the actual birthdate of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Bhagwan Rama according to the Hindu calendar. An annakut (traditional 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. Youths also sang bhajans to the accompaniment of musical instruments extolling the glory of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Bhagwan Rama.

Later in the evening, devotees gathered in the assembly hall to celebrate Swaminarayan Jayanti with a special programme. It focused on the high spiritual calibre of devotees Bhagwan Swaminarayan had nurtured during his life.

The celebrations began with devotional singing followed by an enthralling production which took the audience back in time as the hall transformed into a scene from the era of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Performers expertly enacted inspiring accounts of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s devotees who had shown remarkable courage in remaining steadfast to their faith and religious observances.

The drama was supported by enlightening discourses from sadhus and lively bhajans that further elaborated upon the theme of the programme. The historical journey was brought to a conclusion with reference to modern-day devotees who have demonstrated the same values with the guidance and inspiration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

As the finale drew near, youths performed a vibrant and colourful dance welcoming the murti of Harikrishna Maharaj inside the assembly hall amid a grand procession.

The janmotsav arti was joyously sung at precisely 10.10pm to mark the birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Everyone joined in devotional singing to celebrate the auspicious moment, thereby concluding the day’s festivities.

On Saturday 5 April 2015, the Women’s Forum celebrated Swaminarayan Jayanti again with their own inspiring programme. It expertly interspersed devotional singing with insightful speeches about female devotees and their spiritual relationship with Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

Observing Earth Hour 2015
Saturday 28 March 2015

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London joined millions of people across the globe to raise awareness about climate change by observing Earth Hour – the world’s largest environmental event – at 8:30pm on Saturday 28 March 2015.

Starting in Samoa, Earth Hour made its way through a record 172 countries and territories passing all seven continents, including Antarctica and also the International Space Station, before concluding in Tahiti.

More than 1,400 landmarks around the world switched off non-essential lights in participation of the global event. In the UK, some of the notable buildings included Buckingham Palace, the Gherkin, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Taking “action beyond the hour” is a commitment that BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha continues to make for the environment. Yogen Shah, a volunteer at the Mandir, explained: “Bhagwan Swaminarayan enlightened his devotees of the fundamental Hindu concept about caring for nature. This is furthered today by our spiritual leader Pramukh Swami Maharaj in the many activities he inspires.”

Projects including a recycling event for Climate Week, celebrating World Environment Day, being presented with an ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ as part of the Brent in Bloom garden competition, cleaning the Brent Feeder Canal and, most recently, cleaning up a local park demonstrate BAPS’s continued commitment to raise awareness about and make a positive impact upon the environment.

The Mandir itself was constructed and operates with a number of key environmental-friendly features. Please click here to learn more.

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 extended to 158.
  • A record participation once again in 2015 included 172 countries and territories, incorporating over 1,400 landmarks and close to 40 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • 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.

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2015
Saturday 14 March 2015

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London welcomed more than 1,400 women to celebrate International Women’s Day on Saturday 14 March 2015.

The day, recognised by the United Nations, was aimed at inspiring change, raising awareness and empowering women to make positive changes in their lives, families and the wider community.

Each year on 8 March, individuals and organisations across the world gather to celebrate International Women’s Day in honour of the significant achievements that women have made throughout the course of history. The day was ratified by the UN in 1977, but has been observed around the world since the turn of the 20th century.

The event marked the beginning of a year-long initiative by the BAPS Women’s Forum focussing on respect, independence, health and safety – all deeply influential for women striving to lead a progressive and more fulfilling life.

The evening began with prayers for world peace, followed by an enlightening programme which included a thought-provoking game show and a powerful debate exploring the views and challenges associated with the first component of the year: ‘Be Respectful’. A contemporary shadow dance depicting the stages of a woman’s life provided a fitting conclusion.

Chief Guest at the event was Ms Ritula Shah, a journalist and news presenter for The World Tonight and the Saturday edition of PM on BBC Radio 4. She has also previously presented Woman’s Hour on Radio 4.

In her keynote address, Ms Shah shared her vision of what women can achieve with the right support and guidance, and by being progressive whilst remaining committed to one’s culture, family and profession. She spoke of being inspired by “the many lessons learned to help women be financially independent, healthy and kind.” She also added: “As women, we can join together and build our relationships. Let’s unite and help one another.”

The programme provided valuable information and inspiration for women of all ages. One of the attendees spoke of her “new-found energy” to “move forward in life while still being grounded in my values and beliefs.”

Amee Desai, one of the lead organisers of the event, shared: “A woman’s life is so multi-faceted. Trying to progress and find meaning whilst remaining respectful is an important challenge that the event addressed. The feedback from many of the attendees has been overwhelmingly positive and we hope it will inspire many more to progress in whatever is their calling.”

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

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