News and Events

Hindu New Year Celebrations
Monday 31 October 2016

The Hindu New Year – Vikram Samvat 2073 – was devoutly welcomed on 31 October 2016 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.

The first arti ceremony of the new year was performed at 5.30am, followed with a special mahapuja praying for peace, prosperity and harmony around the world.

The main attraction of the day was darshan of the murtis in the upper sanctum and the iconic annakut offering in the main prayer hall. Worshippers and visitors were captivated by the sumptuous arrangement of over 1,200 freshly prepared pure vegetarian dishes offered in thanksgiving to God as the first meal of the new year.

In the short assembly following the thal, Yogvivek Swami conveyed His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s new year blessings. Also joining the celebrations on this day was His Excellency Dinesh Patnaik, Acting High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom. In his address, he said that it was “a proud moment” for him to be present at the Mandir on such an auspicious occasion. He also spoke about the “positive energy” created by the Mandir in “bringing the community together in prayer and service.”

Children reinforced this message by collecting funds for victims of the recent earthquake in Italy. The young volunteers engaged enthusiastically with visitors, encouraging all to donate generously in the spirit of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s teaching, “In the joy of others lies our own.”

As a part of their visit, well-wishers had the opportunity to pay tribute to His Holiness, who passed away in August. He was the creator of the London Mandir and the religious leader of millions around the world.

More than 50 peers, Members of Parliament and councillors also attended throughout the day to lend their support to the community celebrations and pay tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Guests included Lord Jitesh Gadhia, Lord Raj Loomba, Baroness Usha Prashar, Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry MP, Bob Blackman MP, Deputy Mayor of London Rajesh Agrawal, Mayor of Brent Cllr Parvez Ahmed, Mayor of Barnet Cllr David Longstaff, Leader of Brent Council Cllr Muhammed Butt, Cllr Krupa Sheth, Cllr Tom Miller, and several others.

Visitors also hailed from several other countries, including America, Austria, Bulgaria, Chile, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Georgia, a local visitor, wrote: “How can I begin to thank you for that wonderful day? It was absolutely tremendous. We learnt so much and felt so privileged and honoured to be treated with such generosity by you all. Please thank everyone involved. I’m still tracking through the whole day in my mind, trying to savour every sight, sound and taste! I’m sure we will come again. The joyful welcome we received and the atmosphere of devotion, dedication and inclusiveness was an inspiration.”

Diwali Celebrations
Sunday 30 October 2016

Diwali at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London is an iconic community celebration, reinforcing charity, goodwill, family values and the love of God. Worshippers and visitors experienced the devotional vibrancy and rich culture of Diwali with a host of festivities on Sunday 30 October 2016.

The ‘Festival of Light’, as it is fondly known, was marked with dazzling displays of bright, intricate Indian patterns and flickering lamps. The murtis in the inner sanctum were also beautifully adorned.

Worshippers and visitors arrived at the Mandir throughout the day to offer their prayers and respects. In the evening, a special ceremony for home and business owners was held in the presence of sadhus. The chopda pujan ceremony is an occasion for business owners to close their existing account books and open new ones in preparation for the year ahead. In doing so, they also reflect upon their spiritual relationship with God and the core values underpinning Diwali, such as giving to the needy.   

The assembly included devotional singing by youths which conveyed further the spiritual significance of the festival. Memories of Diwali celebrations in London with Pramukh Swami Maharaj were rekindled through a video presentation. Yogvivek Swami, Head Sadhu of the Mandir, also addressed the gathering and wished the celebrants a very happy Diwali.

The festive atmosphere continued outside where devotees and visitors mingled with members of the local community to enjoy a selection of delicious traditional hot Indian street food in the marquee opposite the Mandir.

Earlier in the week, volunteers from the Mandir visited 10 Downing Street to celebrate Diwali with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Pooja Patel, a young volunteer at the Mandir said, “I love helping out at the Mandir during Diwali because there is a feeling of happiness from everyone you meet. It is a time where I can think about ways to help more people and become a better person.”

Prime Minister Hosts Diwali Reception at 10 Downing Street
Monday 24 October 2016

Prime Minister Theresa May hosted a special reception on Monday 24 October 2016 at 10 Downing Street to celebrate Diwali.

She welcomed more than 150 key figures from across the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities, alongside His Excellency Dinesh Patnaik, Acting Indian High Commissioner; Priti Patel, Secretary of State for International Development; Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities; Lord Gadhia; and Alok Sharma, Foreign Office Minister. Mr Jitu Patel, a trustee of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the UK, was also present at the event.

In keeping with the customary Hindu welcome, Rena Amin and Hinal Patel, volunteers at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, offered a garland of flowers and tied a nada-chhadi (decorative string symbolising friendship) on the Prime Minister’s wrist.

Jitu Patel and the Acting Indian High Commissioner began the festivities with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp amid chanting of Vedic peace prayers by children from the Mandir.

A traditional arrangement of Indian food was also on offer to Hindu Deities as part of the auspicious celebrations. Volunteers from the Mandir had worked hard to set up the decorations and ‘Annakut’, as it is called in Sanskrit, comprising a colourful selection of Indian sweets and savouries.

Ms May addressed the gathering saying it was “great to have so many of you here at this special time of year and an honour to host my first Diwali reception as Prime Minister.”

After commenting on the diversity of India and speaking about the values of “hope, optimism, forgiveness and new beginnings represented by the Hindu New Year”, she applauded the achievements of British Indian communities. “One and a half million people demonstrate just how much a country can achieve when talent is unleashed and people of all backgrounds are able to fulfil their potential – that’s what is important.”

In conclusion, the Prime Minister wished everyone a “Shubh Deepawali” before pausing to observe the Annakut offering. In keeping with the spirit of Diwali, the celebrants were presented with delicacies from the Annakut to share with their family and friends.

Hinal Patel, a national youth leader for BAPS in the UK, observed, “It was a pleasure to celebrate such an important Hindu festival at Number 10 with the Prime Minister and so many friends and supporters. I think it’s testament to the value the British Hindu community brings to our country and we’re all immensely proud to not only be a part of it but to be contributing to it and seeing Britain grow.”

A transcript of the Prime Minister’s speech can be found on the UK Government website here, and a short video of the reception can be viewed here.

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

Elderly Care Home Visits
Sunday 16 October 2016

Volunteers from the Mandir joined BAPS Charities on a series of visits to local residential care homes over September and October 2016. They visited Meera Nursing Home, Sancroft Hall Care Home, Shivam Nursing Home and Birchwood Care Grange Home, with residents from Birchwood Grange reciprocating with a visit to the Mandir.

As a part of the Mandir’s on-going commitment to support the health and welfare of the elderly within our community, the visits included a tailored programme to engage with the residents, where volunteers also delivered a musical performance. Residents spoke with volunteers at length on various subjects and shared enlightening life experiences.

The initiative was one of various activities organised by BAPS Charities in support of International Sewa Day, an annual event where “thousands of good-hearted people across the world come together to perform sewa and experience the joy of giving in its truest sense.”

Bhavna Parmar, one of the lead volunteers for the project, explained, “The ethos of caring for and respecting seniors within our community, and to appreciate the valuable role of the elderly, is an important objective of the Mandir. The experience has been heart-warming for all of us, particularly through the positive energy we have seen from the residents.”

To learn more about International Sewa Day, please click here.

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

Collecting Food for the Homeless
Saturday 15 October 2016

Young members of The Swaminarayan Sunday School at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir joined BAPS Charities to collect food for the homeless.

They collected four large trolleys of food for Sufra, a community food bank and kitchen based in the London Borough of Brent. Sufra aims to support disadvantaged families suffering from food poverty in the local area, including the more than 29,000 children in north-west London who are living in severe poverty.

The initiative was one of various activities organised by BAPS Charities in support of International Sewa Day, an annual event where “thousands of good-hearted people across the world come together to perform sewa and experience the joy of giving in its truest sense.”

Hitesh Jethwa, one of the lead volunteers for the programme, explained, “His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj lived by the ethos ‘In the joy of others lies our own.’ This message really motivated the young children to help support local families who simply don’t have enough food to eat.”

Anjali Patel, 11, shared her experience saying, “The Mandir always teaches to help others and this is something that is in our hearts. We really enjoyed the day and learned a lot about helping others. I hope this food stops families going to bed hungry.”

Mohammed Mamdani, Director of Sufra, thanked everyone for their efforts. “I am very grateful to you and your team for your noble efforts in raising food for local families in crisis for International Sewa Day. I was also very glad that some of the children who took part in the collection were able to visit the food bank on Sunday and see where the food they have collected will be distributed.”

To learn more about Sufra and International Sewa Day, please follow the respective links.

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

Assembly In Memoriam of HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj
Thursday 22 September 2016

More than a thousand dignitaries and invited guests gathered at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Thursday 22 September 2016 to pay tribute to the life and legacy of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, passed away in India on Saturday 13 August 2016. He was 94.

The special assembly, held in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami from India, was attended by several prominent guests, including His Excellency Navtej Sarna, High Commissioner from India to the United Kingdom; The Rt Hon. the Lord Boateng, former Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Member of Parliament for Brent South; His Grace Sruti Dharma das, President of ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor, Watford; Shri Gopichand Hinduja, businessman and philanthropist; and Nigel Lane, architect and planner of the Mandir.

Youths began the assembly by chanting Vedic prayers for world peace. The selfless life and humanitarian work of Swamishri was portrayed through a video presentation thereafter.

Yogvivek Swami, Head Sadhu for BAPS in UK and Europe, recalled Swamishri’s dedication to serve God and society, personifying his motto, “In the joy of others lies our own.” A personal testimony from a young man who experienced Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s unconditional love further underlined Swamishri’s universal compassion.

The profound impact of Swamishri’s life has resonated through a long chorus of glowing tributes from many distinguished individuals from around the world. A collection of these were shared with the congregation.

Speakers at the assembly reflected upon their uplifting thoughts and experiences of Swamishri. Nigel Lane explained, “He was our inspiration and leader. His inspiration came to us not through grand speeches but the simple personal connection that he made.”

Lord Boateng described the atmosphere of “peace and tranquillity” that he repeatedly experienced in Swamishri’s presence, including during His Holiness’s visit to Parliament in 1988. Shri Gopichand Hinduja praised Swamishri’s leadership. “The greatest quality he had was leadership with humility.”

His Grace Sruti Dharma das explored some of Swamishri’s personal qualities. He specifically touched upon Swamishri’s kindness, which he noted was “not only for Gujaratis or mankind but for all creatures of the world.” His Excellency Navtej Sarna described Swamishri as a “monumental spiritual figure who dedicated his life in the service of human beings.”

Ishwarcharan Swami, convener of BAPS’s global activities and Project Lead for Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi, offered his insight into His Holiness’s exemplary life of devotion and selfless humanitarian service. His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual successor of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, also shared his impressions through a video message.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales conveyed his respects through Mr Hitan Mehta, Executive Director of The British Asian Trust. Mr Sadiq Khan, The Mayor of London also sent his condolences with Mr Rajesh Agarwal, The Deputy Mayor of London.

The Mayor of Brent Cllr Parvez Ahmed presented a special certificate in recognition of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s “outstanding contribution to Brent” by way of the Neasden Temple. The iconic arch of the nearby Wembley Stadium was also lit in orange in honour of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

The tribute assembly concluded with prayers and reflections.

To learn more about the life, work and teachings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, please visit

Volunteers Receive Training from Guide Dogs Association
Friday 9 September 2016

Volunteers at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir received the London Engagement Team from the Guide Dogs Association on Friday 9 September 2016. Mel, Rob and Desi were joined by Amit Patel, who is registered blind, for a day of training on how to guide visually impaired people.

Amit spoke of losing his eyesight two years ago. He explained how Kika his guide dog had transformed his life. “There is nothing I feel that I cannot do,” he said. He also shared that he had just become the proud father of a baby boy. Amit concluded by saying that all he wanted was for people to treat him with dignity and respect, “as just another human being.”

Mel explained that the ideal way to approach a visually impaired visitor is to tap the person’s right elbow and introduce oneself. Following the introduction, the volunteer should then ask if he/she needed any assistance. If the person wished to be guided, he/she will then hold onto the right elbow of the volunteer.

Mel then gave a practical demonstration on how to guide a visually impaired person through narrow spaces, doors, and up and down stairs. The volunteers then paired up, each taking turns to wear special eye masks that ensured that they could not see and were then guided by their colleague. This brought home to everyone just what visually impaired people face on a daily basis.

The Mandir wishes to sincerely thank the London Engagement Team and the Guide Dogs Association for taking time out to provide such insightful training. This was another step forward in the Mandir’s on-going commitment to providing an enriching experience as possible to all its visitors.

To learn more about the commendable work of the Guide Dogs Association, please visit

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

Launch of New Mandir Word Search App
Sunday 4 September 2016

The first ever BAPS game app was inaugurated by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj in Ahmedabad, India on Sunday 4 September, and is now available for free download at Google Play and the iTunes App Store.

The MANDIR WORD SEARCH educational app is an interactive and entertaining game that will stimulate the minds of children and adults alike, fostering concentration and precision, expanding vocabulary, enhancing spelling skills, and increasing knowledge of important satsang topics.

With 6 different levels to play and master, it can bring hours of fun and learning for the whole family.

To download MANDIR WORD SEARCH for your Android or iOS smart phone and tablet, please follow the respective links.

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

21st Anniversary Patotsav
Saturday 27 August 2016


His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj touched the lives of millions around the world. One of his greatest gifts to the UK has been the internationally acclaimed BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London. Inaugurated by His Holiness in August 1995, it has become an integral part of the country’s religious landscape, inspiring peace, harmony and spirituality in the millions who have visited over the years.

The 21st anniversary of the Mandir was celebrated on Saturday 27 August 2016 in the presence of senior sadhu from India, Sadguru Pujya Bhaktipriya Swami (Kothari Swami).

Sadhus began the ‘patotsav’ – marking the anniversary of the Mandir’s opening and the calendric day that its murtis were first infused with the divine presence of God – with a Vedic ceremony in the morning.

Visitors participated in the ritual bathing of Nilkanth Varni throughout the day, and observed the traditional offering of food (‘annakut’) to thank God for his providence.

A mahapuja praising God and seeking his blessings for continued peace and prosperity in the world was held in the afternoon.

During a special evening assembly, devotees and guests paid tribute to Swamishri’s selfless and spiritually enriching life, recalling many cherished memories of his presence at the Mandir.

Youths began the programme by singing prayers before sadhus spoke about Swamishri’s social, spiritual and humanitarian works, including the construction of the Mandir.

Yogvivek Swami spoke of Swamishri’s positive personality even amid fragile health, which has encouraged his followers to adopt resilience in their personal lives.

Kothari Swami also addressed the assembly and encouraged devotees to continue their spiritual journey with faith and conviction.

Sadhus concluded the evening by offering pushpanjali to Swamishri and performing the arti.

Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations
Thursday 25 August 2016


The birth celebrations of Shri Krishna Bhagwan were devoutly observed on Thursday 25 August 2016 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.

Shri Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu and a popular deity for Hindus around the world. He manifested on earth thousands of years ago on the Hindu calendrical day of Shravan vad 8.

Devotees and visitors began to arrive at the Mandir from the morning to offer their prayers and respects as well as gently swing the murti of Shri Krishna that is ceremoniously placed on a birth cradle on this day.

As per tradition, a grand offering of food (the ‘annakut’) was arranged before the shrine of Radha-Krishna.

In a special evening assembly, sadhus narrated the life and teachings of Krishna Bhagwan, while youths sang eloquent hymns extolling his personality and virtues.

Tyagratna Swami discussed the spiritual teachings of Krishna Bhagwan that were encapsulated within many divine episodes from his life. Prabuddhmuni Swami also addressed the congregation, explaining Shri Krishna’s mission to eradicate evil and instil piety in the world. He also spoke of the devotion that the gopis (female devotees) expressed for Shri Krishna and urged worshippers to imbibe this devotion to God today.

A montage of previous Janmashtami celebrations in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj in London brought together the spiritual messages and teachings.

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

HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj Passes Away
Saturday 13 August 2016

Creator and inspirer of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, passed away on Saturday 13 August 2016 at 6pm IST in Sarangpur, Gujarat, India. He was 94.

His Holiness, celebrated for his worldwide socio-spiritual services, was the fifth spiritual successor in the guru parampara tradition of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS). For more than seven decades he had been travelling tirelessly, visiting over 17,000 towns and villages in India and abroad. For the last two years, because of old age and frail health, he had been residing at the BAPS Swaminarayan temple in Sarangpur. Due to his longstanding heart problems, he passed away there peacefully.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj was born on 7 December 1921 to a humble farmer’s family in the small village of Chansad, near Vadodara in Gujarat. In 1939, at the age of 18, he renounced his home to become a sadhu and received initiation into the monastic order from his guru Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj. He was named Sadhu Narayanswarupdas.

On completing his Sanskrit studies, he was appointed as the kothari (head sadhu) of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Sarangpur in 1946 at the age of 25. Then in 1950, aged 28, Shastriji Maharaj appointed him as the president (Pramukh) of BAPS in his place. Since then, he had been fondly known as ‘Pramukh Swami’.

Shastriji Maharaj passed away in 1951, declaring Yogiji Maharaj as his spiritual successor. Thereafter, Pramukh Swami served under the guidance and blessings of Yogiji Maharaj. In 1971, after the departure of guru Yogiji Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj succeeded him as the fifth spiritual guru of BAPS. Over the next 45 years, his unremitting satsang travels, selfless services to society, saintly virtues and profound devotion to God earned him the respect and reverence of countless worldwide.

Some of his many outstanding services to society include uplifting the needy, liberating thousands from vices and addictions, providing relief and rehabilitation in times of calamity, and inspiring character and faith in hundreds of thousands of children and youths.

As a leading representative of the worldwide Hindu community and a keen proponent of interfaith dialogue, Pramukh Swami Maharaj addressed the United Nations Millennium Peace Summit in 2000 at the UN General Assembly in New York. He stressed, “True religion is that which inspires love for one another.”

He created over 1,100 temples around the world, including Europe’s first traditional Hindu temple, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London (popularly known as the ‘Neasden Temple’). He also created the ‘Swaminarayan Akshardham’ temple complexes in New Delhi and Gandhinagar to portray the spiritual heritage of India. He inspired and initiated over 980 youths into the Hindu monastic order.

Renowned religious leaders and heads of state have been deeply touched by his simplicity, humility, saintliness and edifying works. These include His Holiness The Dalai Lama, HRH Prince Charles, the late Sheikh Isa bin Salman al Khalifa of Bahrain, India’s late president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and many other royals, religious and national leaders, and dignitaries. 

He lived by and preached the message: “In the joy of others lies our own.”

Pramukh Swami Maharaj is succeeded by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj (Sadhu Keshavjivandas), now the sixth guru in the spiritual lineage of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the current head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.

To learn more about the life, work and teachings of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, please visit

Guru Purnima
Saturday 23 July 2016

The Guru holds an especially celebrated and revered role in Hinduism as not only a guide but a powerful spiritual medium between humans and God. Devotees celebrate the Hindu festival of Guru Purnima to pay tribute to their Guru and to thank him for all his indispensable contributions in their lives.

Join us on Saturday 23 July at 7pm for an evening of enchanting singing and enlightening discourses extolling the spiritual significance of the Guru in a musical homage.

Sangitmay Bhagwat Parayan Katha
Monday 8 to Friday 12 August 2016

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London warmly invites you, your family and friends to join us during the Hindu holy month of Shravan for a musical parayan katha on one of Hinduism’s most revered scriptures, the Shrimad Bhagwat Puran.

The katha will be delivered by Pujya Yogipremdas Swami, a learned sadhu and accomplished singer who has been serving under the spiritual guidance of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj for over 20 years. Through his insightful discourses and soulful singing, he will be expounding upon the key messages of this profound ancient text.

Come learn about and experience true devotion unto God along this enlightening five-day scriptural journey.

Rath Yatra Festival
Saturday 9 July 2016


Rath Yatra, the Hindu ‘Festival of Chariots’, was joyously celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on Saturday 9 July 2016 with chanting, music, and the traditional pulling of the murtis on an elegantly decorated chariot.

Cardiovascular Health Screening
Saturday 25 June 2016

The Swaminarayan School, opposite the Mandir, hosted a cardiovascular health screening session on Saturday 25 June 2016 organised by BAPS Charities with the Royal Free, a major teaching hospital in Hampstead, London.

In total, 38 participants aged between 31 to 81 years benefitted from the event. These attendees were previously diagnosed as being of high-risk for heart disease and were therefore invited for a follow-up screening to assess their progress.

Dr Tarun Mittal, Consultant Cardiothoracic Radiologist at the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, joined volunteers from both organisations at the event. Dr Mittal is specifically focussed on computer tomography (CT) and MRI aspects of the heart and the vascular system and is involved in various research projects related to this subject.

He was very impressed with the event and shared his views of the session: “It was my privilege to be part of the health camp yesterday and offer some help to all the volunteers. The programme was well organised and I very much enjoyed being part of an initiative that is so important to the well-being of the local community.”

The feedback from the attendees was also very encouraging. Dilip Patel, who travelled from Bristol to be screened, said that “it was worth the time and expense to have this excellent health check.”

Dr Mayank Shah, lead volunteer at BAPS Charities, added, “Our thanks once again to Dr Mittal and all the volunteers for organising and running this event. Follow-up of high-risk members of the community is critical to plan for the best possible treatment and lead a healthy life. We look forward to helping many more in the future.”

Bring A Friend Day
Thursday 9 June 2016

Young volunteers of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London welcomed more than 250 friends and colleagues for a memorable open evening on Thursday 9 June 2016.

A warm traditional welcome set the tone for the evening as guests were collected by a special shuttle service from Neasden Station and greeted by volunteers. As they entered the Mandir complex, a special photograph was taken with their host to provide a memento of their visit.

Visitors were welcomed with the traditional tying of the nada-chhadi – a gesture of friendship – and then ushered to a reception of Indian snacks and refreshments.

Volunteers accompanied their associates and friends on a guided tour around the Mandir and ‘Understanding Hinduism’ exhibition, and were given the opportunity to take part in the ritual bathing of Shri Nilkanth Varni.

The guests continued their journey to the prayer hall and engaged with interactive stalls illustrating the various activities undertaken at the Mandir. The stalls covered Hindu festivals, the art of creativity, bhakti, charitable activities, the art and architecture of mandirs, health and vitality, and traditional Indian music.

The evening continued with a vote of thanks by Satyavrat Swami, followed by a short talk by Tyagprakash Swami, who addressed the assembly about the key to a happy and meaningful life. The gathering also joined in a chanting of the Vedic shanti path, praying for peace, prosperity and harmony to prevail in the world.

The evening was brought to a close with a traditional vegetarian meal where guests reflected upon their experiences.

Before leaving, every visitor was presented with a gift bag, which included a copy of Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji, the final book of the former President of India, the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.

The event proved a great success for everyone involved. The guests especially appreciated the opportunity to learn about the beliefs, values and practices of their close friends and colleagues.

A selection of the guests’ experiences captured in the visitor book include the following:

“What an incredible place! Blown away by the people and the architecture and the warmth. Thank you!” – Deborah

“Thank you for a lovely evening! I’ve learnt so much and would love to come back again!” – Pam

“An inspiring and wonderful place!” – Hilary

Sunday School Receives Gold Award for Supplementary Education
Sunday 5 June 2016

The Sunday School at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London has received a second Gold Award from the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education (NRCSE).

The NRCSE is a national strategic and support organisation for the supplementary education sector across England. They serves as the “national champion for excellence, innovation and partnership in supplementary schools”.

The award was conferred after a detailed appraisal by representatives of the National Resource Centre on Sunday 5 June 2016. They observed assemblies and classes, conducted a thorough examination of policies, and spoke with pupils, teachers and the school director as part of the formal assessment.

The findings from the visit were documented in a statement prepared by the Centre. It especially mentioned the “fully engaged and eager students” and the “clear, confident technique [of the teacher]”, which contributed to a “most effective and enjoyable lesson”.

This follows the same achievement in 2012, when the Sunday School was first awarded a Gold Award from the NRCSE for its “high standards of service in providing supplementary education to the community” – the first supplementary school in the London borough of Brent & Harrow to have achieved the gold standard.

Other distinguished accolades for the Children’s Forum include The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, conferred in 2009.

The Sunday School also includes Gujarati classes, in which students has attained a 100% success rate in GCSE exams, with more than half receiving a grade A or A*. During the weekly classes, some 70 volunteers assist the 350 students. The Sunday School as a whole strives to provide value-based education helping young people develop into responsible and respectable British citizens.

Sharing his thoughts on the latest award, Manoj Patel, lead volunteer for the Sunday School, said, “We are delighted and honoured to receive the Gold Award once again. The achievement is a testimony of the collective efforts from the children, parents and all the volunteers. We are committed to providing a positive and rewarding learning environment and hope we can continue to build on this success in the years to come.”