News and Events

World Environment Day
Sunday 5 June 2016

5 June is World Environment Day. It is the United Nations’ most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.

Each WED is organised around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. WED 2016 was themed on the illegal trade in wildlife under the slogan ‘Go Wild for Life’.

Through decades of WED celebrations, millions of people from all over the world and from all sectors of society have taken part in environmental action. By bundling their energy, WED has the power to generate hugely positive impacts on the planet.

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, as a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, affirmed its commitment to protecting our environment by supporting World Environment Day on Sunday 5 June 2016 as an inspiration for us all. As the United Nations’ slogan states: World Environment Day – every year, everywhere, everyone.

To learn more about World Environment Day 2016, please visit www.wed2016.com.

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

Community Health Screening
Saturday 14 May 2016

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir hosted a free health screening for the local community on Saturday 14 May 2016.

It was organised by BAPS Charities in partnership with the Royal Free Hospital, a major teaching hospital in Hampstead, London. The two have been working together for more than seven years to deliver free screening and professional guidance to over 600 members of the local community.

In this session, 30 attendees aged between 33 and 75 years were screened.

The strategic approach for this year’s screening sessions is focussed on the guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Members of the public with an estimated risk of cardiovascular disease of 10% or more were of particular focus and were invited for follow-up screening. Another important area of concern is detecting risk factors amongst people under 40 with a family history of diabetes or heart-related diseases.

In conjunction with the screening, consultants from the Royal Free Hospital and volunteer doctors from BAPS Charities provided personalised advice.

One participant shared: “The experts explained the results to me in a very simple way and the advice on controlling my weight was delivered very professionally. I’d like to thank the doctors and volunteers for taking the time to make such a positive impact in my life.”

Public Health Screening at Local Shopping Centre
Saturday 23 April 2016

 

Volunteers from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir helped BAPS Charities to team up with representatives from the Rotary Club of Edgware & Stanmore to deliver a health awareness drive at the Broadwalk Shopping Centre on Saturday 23 April 2016.

During the five-hour session, 30 males and 33 females aged between 15 to 85 years, and from diverse ethnic groups, were offered free medical consultations. The experts helped raise awareness about potential health risks and encouraged to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Almost half of those surveyed recorded a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 which classifies a person as overweight. 22% also suffered from clinically high blood pressure and the same proportion of people were confirmed as diabetics.

His Worshipful The Mayor of Harrow Cllr Krishna Suresh attended the event to observe first-hand the service being offered in the Borough. He was very appreciative of the voluntary work offered by BAPS Charities in the local community.

Members of the Rotary Club and their president, Dr Nandini Varma, were also grateful to BAPS Charities for providing a professional and friendly service throughout the day, and hoped to continue the partnership to benefit more people in the community that has been flourishing since 2011.

Dr Lalit Nirmal, a lead volunteer for BAPS Charities, spoke of the “positive community feedback” received through the sessions. “It was great to see members of the public take some time out of their busy day to participate in the programme and learn about corrective actions that they can take to improve their health. We look forward to further sessions with the Rotary Club in the future.”

Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi Celebrations
Saturday 16 April 2016

 

The festivals of Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi were celebrated with a host of devotional festivities on Friday 15 April and Saturday 16 April 2016 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.

Chaitra sud 9 – the actual birthdate of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Bhagwan Rama according to the Hindu calendar – fell on 15 April this year. Devotional activities commenced from morning at the Mandir where devotees and visitors offered their prayers and respects at the shrines.

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.

The evening assembly presented the divine life and inspiring messages of Bhagwan Swaminarayan as seen through the eyes of his paramhansas. Their love and faith, expressed through a selection of bhajans, were brought to life by sadhus and youths through a vibrant musical journey.

A grand procession welcomed the murti of Harikrishna Maharaj inside the assembly hall before the janmotsav arti was joyously sung at precisely 10.10pm to mark the birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. The congregation joined in with devotional singing to celebrate the auspicious moment and conclude the programme.

The celebrations continued on Saturday 16 April with an enlightening production charting the purpose of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s manifestation on earth and the spiritual revolution that he inspired.

A vivid combination of multimedia effects, devotional songs, discourses and sketches brought to life a joyous enactment of his birth and the context and impact of his subsequent work.

Sadhus elaborated upon Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s love for his devotees, the piety and righteousness he inspired in them, and the harmony he fostered among them. They also explained how Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s work of moulding individuals and society has continued today through the tireless efforts of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

The audience learned about the ultimate spiritual liberation that Bhagwan Swaminarayan granted his devotees. This understanding was further enhanced by a montage of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s blessings from previous festivals.

The celebrations were brought to a colourful close with a vibrant dance performance by youths that tied together the major themes of the evening’s programme.

Festivities continued on Saturday 30 April, when the Women’s Forum held their own celebrations with an inspiring and colourful cultural programme.

Abhishek Mandap

 

Opening of Refurbished Abhishek Mandap
Friday 15 April 2016

 

The refurbished Nilkanth Abhishek Mandap reopened at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Friday 15 April 2016, the auspicious day of Swaminarayan Jayanti.

The Abhishek Mandap is a marble chamber on the lower floor of the main mandir housing the sacred image of Shri Nilkanth Varni, the teenage form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Pramukh Swami Maharaj consecrated the murti on 6 September 2004, praying for the fulfilment of the wishes of those who come to perform the abhishek.

The two-phased renovation of the Abhishek Mandap began in 2015, with the final work commencing in February this year. The completion marks the culmination of dedicated efforts by sadhus, volunteers and skilled craftsmen. The Brazilian and Italian marble-clad chamber is now embellished with 4,692 individual pieces of traditional Indian design featuring 24 paintings and 8 relief panels depicting key incidents from the life of Nilkanth Varni.

The opening was conducted amid Vedic rituals performed by sadhus and in the presence of devotees while a larger congregation watched in the assembly hall via a live broadcast link. Devotees reflected upon the peace and fulfilment they have experienced by the blessings of Nilkanth Varni over the years.

To learn more about the Abhishek Mandap and the abhishek ritual, please click the respective links.

Annual Charity Challenge
Sunday 10 April 2016

More than 1,000 people – from toddlers through to senior citizens – joined the BAPS Annual 10K Challenge in London on Sunday 10 April 2016.

The charity Challenge organised by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) brought together more than 3,000 enthusiastic participants from towns and cities across the UK for a fun and healthy way to raise money for various worthy causes and local charities.

The funds from this year’s event will support BAPS’s multifarious educational, community and spiritual activities serving children, youths, families and the elderly.

Previous national partners, under the auspices of BAPS and BAPS Charities, have included the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK, Breast Cancer Care, Age UK, Barnardo’s, KIDS, The Anthony Nolan Trust, and Macmillan Cancer Support. Locally, the Challenge has helped a number of charities and good causes. Last year’s event raised money and awareness for Rosa, a fund for women and girls in the UK.

The event kicked off shortly after 10am from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London in the presence of Cllrs Muhammed Butt, Krupesh Hirani, Ketan Sheth and Krupa Sheth.

Addressing the gathering, Cllr Muhammed Butt spoke of the community focus of Brent which is synonymous with the Challenge. “Community is about working together, looking after one another and being there for one another. That is what Brent is all about and that is what the Mandir is all about.”

After the opening ceremony, 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. Young children completed a number of circuits of their own, around the perimeter of the Mandir, and were able to take part in various fun activities en route.

Nisha Patel, aged 13, shared her thoughts after completing the main walk. “It’s been a really enjoyable morning walking with friends in the sunshine and knowing that we are also helping to support good causes. It was also nice to see so many local people watch and meet us as we passed through the route.”

One of the lead volunteers for the event, Jay Patel, added, “We’re very pleased to see so many people – both young and old – as well as families come together to do something positive and enjoyable. We’ve been organising this for over 20 years and faced bitterly cold and wet weather in the past so it was a bonus to be blessed with sunshine. The enthusiasm to help others is why this event is so successful each year. We really want to thank all the participants and sponsors for this event.”

Lights Off for Earth Hour 2016
Saturday 19 March 2016

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London joined iconic landmarks as well as communities and organisations from 178 countries by switching off its non-essential lights to observe Earth Hour at 8.30pm on Saturday 19 March 2016.

Earth Hour – the world’s largest environmental event – is a “global moment of solidarity for climate action” involving millions of people to raise awareness about protecting the future of the planet.

More than 10,400 landmarks around the world, including the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, Taipei 101 and the Sydney Opera House, as well as notable buildings in London, including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, The Gherkin, Piccadilly Circus, Harrods and the Ritz, participated in this year’s event.

Siddarth Das, Executive Director for Earth Hour Global, explains, “While we are experiencing the impacts of climate change more than ever, we are also witnessing a new momentum in climate action transcending borders and generations. From living rooms to classrooms and conference rooms, people are demanding climate action. This tenth edition of Earth Hour is our time to ensure people are empowered to be a part of climate solutions.”

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, said: “It is more than a symbolic gesture for everyone at the Mandir. Caring for the environment is one of the ideals that our spiritual leader Pramukh Swami Maharaj continues to inspire, and which we endeavour to foster in our various activities here.”

From participating in organised environmental events such as Climate Week and World Environmental Day, through to volunteering projects to clean local parks, waterways as well as awards for environmental features of its gardens, the Mandir is actively committed to a better environment. Also central to its construction and operations are number of key environment-friendly features. Please click here to learn more.

Earth Hour was also observed at Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi and BAPS Swaminarayan mandirs in North America.

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 10,400 landmarks and close to 40 UNESCO World Heritage sites. This has been extended to 178 countries this year, with social media awareness campaigns being introduced to further its cause.
  • 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.

Seminar for Dental Professionals
Saturday 17 March 2016

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London hosted another BAPS Charities seminar for dental professionals on Thursday 17 March 2016.

Guest speaker at the seminar was Dr Christopher Sproat, Consultant Oral Surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, who shared his wealth of experience on the topic of ‘Modern Management of Third Molars’ with an informative presentation.

The event was co-sponsored by the Dental Directory and AAA Dentalab and brought together more than 90 dental practitioners, from undergraduate students through to specialists. It was recognised for two hours of verifiable Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

The evening concluded with a summary of BAPS Charities’ activities provided by Dr Sejal Popat, lead volunteer for BAPS Charities Healthcare.

Dr Sproat offered his thoughts on the evening: “I enjoyed the evening thoroughly and am inspired by your work for the community. We could all learn from your example.”

This was the fourth dental seminar organised by BAPS Charities and hosted at the Mandir. It again proved insightful for the delegates. Dr Dipti Mehta, one of the attendees, shared: “An excellent lecture to update my knowledge. Thank you to BAPS Charities for organising the event. Looking forward to the next one!”

Neasden Temple Hosts Special Edition of Antiques Roadshow
Sunday 13 March 2016

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London hosted a special edition of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, which aired on the evening of Sunday 13 March 2016.

The Antiques Roadshow is a British television show in which experts travel to various locations in the United Kingdom to value antiques brought in by local members of the community. It has been running since 1979 and is currently in its 38th series.

This special edition of the popular series devoted an entire episode of prime time TV to celebrate the art and culture of India. Titled ‘India Special’, the programme reflected on the fascinating and rich history of India as portrayed through an enchanting collection of objects.

The Mandir’s courtyard provided the primary setting for the exhibition of artefacts that were examined and discussed by the show’s experts. Various internal and external video images of the Mandir were also featured, highlighting its modern-day contribution to ancient Indian art.

Simon Shaw, Executive Producer of the show, remarked: “We had 6 million viewers watch the broadcast and many comments we saw on the night suggested that there was a strong appetite to visit the Temple as a result of watching the episode. Interestingly the short clip put up on social media has been reached by over 200,000, which is a very strong result. Thanks again to everyone at the Temple in helping us make the episode.”

To learn more about the hour-long programme, please visit the BBC Antiques Roadshow site here.

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

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2016
Saturday 12 March 2016

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London welcomed more than 800 women to celebrate International Women’s Day on Saturday 12 March 2016.

The day, recognised by the United Nations, was marked with an enriching programme organised by BAPS Women’s Forum, UK 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.

Entitled ‘Creating The Stronger You’, the event empowered women of all ages and backgrounds to become more confident, healthier and stronger individuals by addressing a number of key aspects of their lives.

The messages were conveyed through a variety of interactive activities, including workshops addressing a diverse range of subjects, from health and nutrition through to planning for the future, building confidence, and raising awareness on bullying. These helped delegates realise their full potential and equipped them to better tackle everyday challenges.

The activities were consolidated through a thought-provoking talk show where an expert panel of guests offered their insights into the respective themes. Their real-life testimonies provided valuable context and encouragement to the delegates.

The afternoon drew to a conclusion with a vibrant and captivating cultural performance.

Bhavisha Panchmatia, a participant, shared her reflection of the day: “Today’s IWD celebration at the Neasden Temple was an inspirational event. I am now more aware of the importance of planning and preparing for the future and not daunted by the tasks ahead. I feel energised and ready to embrace the challenges.”

Hinal Patel, one of the lead organisers of the event, added, “Women often balance many priorities throughout life and frequently place the needs of others before their own. This event provided an opportunity for women to reflect on their own long-term priorities and take inspiration to make a positive change.”

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.

BAPS Charities UK donates £65,000 to Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund
Saturday 27 February 2016

 

On Saturday 25 April 2015, 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 days afterwards.

In response to this tragedy, BAPS Charities launched an international appeal to raise funds to support those affected by the natural disaster.

Following a fundraising drive in the UK, BAPS Charities presented a cheque for £25,000 to His Excellency Tej Bahadur Chhetri, the Ambassador of Nepal to the UK, on Saturday 29 August 2015 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.

In his address to the gathering, Mr Chhetri voiced his appreciation by saying, “On behalf of the government and people of Nepal, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to BAPS Charities for their support in Nepal’s rehabilitation, reconstruction and rebuilding.” He also encouraged those present to show their own support of Nepal by visiting the many places unaffected by the earthquake.

At the Mandir on Saturday 27 February 2016, BAPS Charities UK presented a further cheque for £40,000 to UNICEF. On hand to receive the donation was Mr Surinder Sharma, UK trustee of the United Nations’ fund dedicated to children’s welfare.

In his address, Mr Sharma drew upon the “impact of everyone in collecting the funds”, before explaining how the funds would be used in directly helping the earthquake victims. The money would go towards building educational facilities, including 40 tents for more than 4,000 children in 13 of the most affected areas, and providing a further 295 ‘mobile schools in a box’ equipped with learning materials to help 11,800 children in rural areas.

Sanjay Kara, lead volunteer at BAPS Charities, added: “Everyone at BAPS Charities was deeply saddened as news broke of the destruction and loss of life in Nepal. Almost a year on, we have not forgotten that the need to help rebuild and rehabilitate lives is as vital as ever. And so we are heartened to be able to work with these agencies to make a real impact on the lives of so many. We also thank everyone from around the world who has helped us in this cause.”

As part of the international appeal, BAPS Charities USA donated a total of US$135,000 to the Nepal Earthquake relief fund, while BAPS Charities Canada donated C$30,000 and BAPS Charities South Africa gave R20,000.

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