News and Events

Living Organ Donation Conference
Saturday 28 October 2017

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is leading a project to raise awareness about Living Organ Donation among Hindus in a programme funded by NHS Blood & Transplant.

Did You Know? In 2016-17, there were approximately 1,000 Asians waiting for an organ transplant in the UK. However, there were only 79 Asian living donors and 29 Asian donors after death.

Hindu New Year
Friday 20 October 2017

The day following Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year in parts of North India. It is one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu calendar and celebrated joyously with gifts, feasting and merriment.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, hosts the largest Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations in the country. Open to one and all, the celebrations are an opportunity for the whole family to enjoy the traditions, colours and rich culture of the Hindu faith.

Diwali
Thursday 19 October 2017

Diwali is one of the most important and colourful festivals of the Hindu calendar. It is a time when charity, goodwill, family values and the love of God are celebrated and reinforced.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London hosts the largest Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations in the country. Open to one and all, the celebrations are an opportunity for the whole family to enjoy the traditions, colours and rich culture of the Hindu faith.

Supporting Girl Empowerment through Kranti’s London Tour
Saturday 24 June 2017

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London welcomed Kranti (Revolution) for a tour of the Mandir and exhibition on Saturday 24 June 2017.

Kranti is a non-governmental organisation that empowers girls born to workers from Mumbai’s red light areas to become agents of social change through the provision of homes, education and training. Kranti enables these ‘Revolutionaries’ to emerge as leaders and economic assets, redefining the value of women in Indian society.

BAPS Charities is supporting Kranti’s London leg of their UK tour by sponsoring their meals and transportation costs as well as raising awareness about their inspiring work and programmes.

On Saturday, the girls presented Kranti’s one-hour theatrical production, ‘Laal Batti Express’, to an audience of over 200 people at The Swaminarayan School (opposite the Mandir).

This choreographed enactment is themed around a train journey that follows the past and present traumas, insecurities, discrimination, violence and emotional distress that these girls have endured in their lives, and charts the changes that they hope to bring for a better future.

Their performance, which portrayed humility, dignity and resilience, drew emotional support from the gathering who were particularly impressed with their determination to better their lives and the lives of their families and others who have been affected by their issues.

​Robin Chaurasiya, the founder of Kranti, stated, “Making a difference to even one element of the daily atrocities endured by these women and their families is a worthwhile effort. Together, we as a society, need to break the taboo of discussing issues that we are uncomfortable with.”

​Araddhna Patel, a BAPS Charities volunteer, added: “We were struck by the raw emotions throughout the production. Every single statement made by the performers was their own individual experience. ​These insights enabled the audience to understand the harrowing lives led by children of sex workers and witness the strength of character by them to make a difference not only to their lives, but the lives of others in their situation.”

Please click here for further details of Kranti’s UK performances and here if you wish to make a donation to support their work with daughters of sex workers.

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

Supporting ‘Saree in a Gadi’ for ‘Save Girl, Educate Girl’ Campaign
Sunday 7 June 2017

More than 100 women dressed in red sarees embarked on a car rally from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, on Sunday 7 June 2017 to raise awareness of the ‘Save Girl, Educate Girl’ women empowerment and education campaign.

The campaign was initiated by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to bring an end to the gender-selective abortion of female foetuses – a practise that occurs in India and many other parts of the world for assumed cultural reasons that span centuries.

The ‘Saree in a Gadi’ rally was led by Bharulata Kamble of Navsari, India, with support from the Mandir. Ms Kamble recently broke a world record in becoming the first woman to drive alone through the Arctic Circle and 32,000 kilometres from England to India, propagating the vital messages of this campaign along her journey.

The event was flagged off in traditional Hindu manner at the Mandir in the presence of local Member of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Dawn Butler MP. Before departing, the women also held a minute’s silence in prayer and remembrance of all those affected by the recent attacks in London and Manchester. 

The rally stopped at the BAPS Swaminarayan mandir in Wellingborough to spread awareness to guests and worshippers there, before reaching BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Leicester. The participants received a grand reception from volunteers of the Mandir as well as the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Cllr Rashmikant Joshi.

In the words of the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, scientist and former President of India, “When women are empowered, a society of stability is assured.” This rally was a great gesture of solidarity by women across the globe, raising awareness and empowering the less fortunate with the same basic human rights of respect, education and also the right to live.

Speaking about her work and messages, Ms Kamble said: “It’s been perceived that Indian women are not active in adventure activities, and I was happy to break that perception through my journey. The event aimed to mobilise non-resident Indians (NRIs) to act as brand ambassadors for the cause to support girls and their education.”

Rena Amin, a senior BAPS volunteer, added, “We’re very proud to support the inspiring work of ‘Save Girl Educate Girl’ and share their important values and messages. The remarkable story of Bharulata Kamble and the many women who joined the rally shows the profound impact that women can make if they are given the opportunities and their voices are heard.”

The rally continues the Mandir’s continued commitment to women’s activities. Bharulata Kamble was a guest at the International Women’s Day celebrations held at the Mandir in March. The Mandir also recently welcomed Kranti (Revolution) from Mumbai to support their summer tour of women empowerment.

Prime Minister Theresa May Visits Neasden Temple
Saturday 3 June 2017

The British Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Theresa May, visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 3 June 2017.

This was her second visit to the Mandir, having previously attended as the guest of honour and keynote speaker at the International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations in March 2013.

Accompanied by her husband Philip May, the Prime Minister was greeted in traditional Indian manner with auspicious marks of welcome and goodwill. She then performed an abhishek of Shri Nilkanth Varni, before proceeding to the inner sanctum where she offered flower petals at the central shrine of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

After meeting young and old volunteers of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, she met leaders of other Hindu organisations and members of the Hindu community.

Sejal Saglani, Professor of Paediatric Respiratory Medicine at Imperial College London, introduced Theresa May to the guests and worshippers attending the evening assembly. She recalled the then Home Secretary’s inspiring messages at the IWD convention in 2013, and thanked Ms May for her glowing tribute to His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj upon his passing in August 2016.

The Prime Minister addressed the congregation of more than 2,000 people and praised

British Indians for being “inspiring role models” and encouraged them to help her make Britain the “world’s great meritocracy”.

She drew upon the “positive energy” and “strong sense of purpose and community spirit” that she experienced at the Mandir. “What you have accomplished here – and at so many Hindu temples across Britain – is not just a source of great pride for British Hindus but an inspiration for all British citizens.”

She praised British Indians for being “inspiring role models across all walks of life” and said their achievements were built “on the very best of British and Indian values”.

Ms May also reflected upon His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s legacy of selfless service that “will continue to benefit humanity for a long time to come”.

“Inspired by his own predecessor, Pramukh Swami dared to dream. He lived up to his motto that ‘In the joy of others lies our own.’ That mission is now being continued by Mahant Swami, who I am pleased to learn will visit London later this month.”

The Prime Minister was presented with mementos of her visit before meeting several of the congregation as she departed the Mandir.

Observing World Environment Day
Saturday 3 June 2017

5 June is World Environment Day (WED). 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.

As an affiliate of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha celebrated World Environment Day in the UK with a public awareness presentation supporting positive lifestyles changes so that we can all become an agent of change.

The presentation was delivered at the Mandir on Saturday 3 June 2017 and at all other BAPS Swaminarayan mandirs and centres around the UK during the rest of the week. It comprised eye-opening facts and inspirational tips about three key steps to:

  • Save Food 
  • Save Water
  • Save Fuel  

This reiterated suggestions from the United Nations Environment Programme to help reduce waste and lessen the burden on global resources.

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.

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

To learn more about World Environment Day, please click here.

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

HH Mahant Swami Maharaj in the UK
22 September to 21 October 2017

His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, spiritual head of the Mandir and the global BAPS Swaminarayan fellowship, will be gracing the UK for a month of devotional events. For all the latest information and updates about his visit, please go to events.uk.baps.org/msm17.

Observing Earth Hour 2017
Saturday 25 March 2017

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London joined iconic landmarks as well as communities and organisations from 187 countries by switching off its non-essential lights to observe Earth Hour at 8.30pm on Saturday 25 March 2017.

Earth Hour – the world’s largest environmental event – is a global movement involving millions of people “to shine a light on the need for climate action” and raise awareness about protecting the future of our planet.

More than 3,100 landmarks and monuments participated around the world, including the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House and the Acropolis, as well as notable buildings in London, including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and Piccadilly Circus.

This year’s event marked the tenth anniversary of the Earth Hour movement, which started as a one-city event in Sydney in 2007. Today it has expanded to over 7,000 cities across seven continents.

Earth Hour is coordinated by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations.

Sid Das, Executive Director for Earth Hour Global, explained, “Once again, the people have spoken through Earth Hour. Whether you are in the Philippines, Peru or Portugal, climate change matters and the record participation in this year’s Earth Hour is a powerful reminder that people, who are on the frontline of climate change, want to be a part of climate action.”

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

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

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
Saturday 11 March 2017

Over 1,300 women came together at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, to celebrate its eighth annual International Women’s Day on Saturday 11 March. The event, themed ‘Celebrating Women: Inspiring Generations’, was aimed at breaking down the barriers of age and seeking inspiration from fellow women.

Focusing on three key messages from His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj – Think Big: “Be the best”; Service: “In the joy of others lies our own”; and Dedication: “The future is bright” – the fun-filled programme featured a host of sketches, videos, a chat show, a game show, and motivational speeches by inspiring women. A mother-daughter team compèred the evening, which concluded with a climactic musical ensemble.

Bharulata Kamble, who broke a world record and became the first woman to drive solo through the Arctic Circle and 32,000 kilometres from England to India, was one of the inspirational speakers of the evening. She recounted her arduous journey and shared insightful reflections, encouraging the audience to push personal boundaries and think outside the box. She was presented with a cheque of £751 by BAPS Charities for her nominated charity, Kedi: The Untrodden Path, a higher learning and self-reliance project for girls in India.

Other women who regularly attend the Mandir also shared their experiences. Shreeya Patel (18) spoke about her trip to Mongolia where she helped to build an orphanage, while Ila Patel (68) recollected her experiences of selfless service while growing up in East Africa. Kashmira Popatia (55) gave a poignant reflection on how her faith has given her strength to continue serving the community, despite her debilitating long-term health condition. All three shared lessons about independence, collaboration, determination and discipline.

Janhavi Dadarkar, a corporate and media lawyer, is the youngest and only Asian member on the Institute of Director’s Board of Examiners. She is also an advisor and facilitator for the Football Association’s leadership programme for women. Ms Dadarkar delivered an inspirational talk threading together all the key themes of the event by drawing on her own personal experiences. She urged the audience to “value your family and as a Hindu women, we must promote a dharmic narrative for the betterment of the world.”

Summing up the event, Swati Desai-Patel, a lead volunteer for the event, added, “From the modest and admirable values of a young girl, to the incredible life journeys that many women have taken, today’s programme portrayed the simple yet often forgotten message that age should not be a factor in acknowledging a person’s character, strength, knowledge or wisdom. And that’s why we wanted to celebrate women across generations for their unique skills, talents and virtues. By highlighting these women of all ages, and understanding what has inspired them to achieve their goals, I really do believe that many will have left feeling motivated and inspired to take a new step towards achieving their own life goals.”

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

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

Mahashivaratri Celebrations
Friday 24 February 2017

Mahashivaratri – the auspicious Hindu festival in reverence of Lord Shiva – was celebrated with piety at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Friday 24 February 2017. 

Sadhus at the Mandir began the festivities by performing the ritual bathing of the shivalinga in the morning. 

Devotees and visitors throughout the day paid their respects to an ice shivalinga displayed in the Haveli entrance. The shivalinga, a representation of the popular Hindu deity symbolising his energy and potentiality, provided a reminder of the sacred pilgrimage town of Amarnath in India where a natural ice shivalinga exists. 

As part of the celebrations at the Mandir, devotees and visitors had the opportunity to offer Shiva-puja with bilva-patra (bael leaves) and perform abhishek (ceremonial bathing) of the shivalinga with milk throughout the day. 

A colourful annakut (religious offering of food for thanksgiving) was artistically arranged at the shrines of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shiva-Parvati.

Collecting Winter Clothes for the Homeless
November 2016

Volunteers from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir joined BAPS Charities to collect clothes for the homeless during the frigid winter period. This was a part of the Mandir’s on-going commitment to serving the needy in the local community.

A variety of warm pieces of clothing, including jumpers and jackets, were deposited at The Swaminarayan School opposite the Mandir and various other collection points. Worshippers engaged with owners of local businesses to collect clothes at their respective shops and offices.

More than 50 large bags and approximately 1,000 individual garments were collected and distributed to Crisis, the “national charity for single homeless people.”

Kirit Wadia, a lead volunteer at BAPS Charities shared his thoughts on the programme: “Being homeless brings many tough challenges but at this time of the year, it is particularly saddening. We hope that the clothes can provide some warmth and comfort to those without a roof over their heads.”

Michael Clout, Corporate Donations Coordinator at Crisis, added, “We are very grateful for the volunteers for contributing their time to help homeless people. It is one of the largest donations of clothes we have had this year and will help to keep many people warm in the cold weather.”

A further letter of appreciation from Crisis Chief Executive Jon Sparks can be read here

To learn more about the work of Crisis, please click here.

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