News and Events

Neasden Temple Awarded ‘Health and Wellbeing’ Award by the Faith & Belief Forum
Tuesday 27 November 2018

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, received an award from the London Faith & Community Awards in recognition of its commitment to the health and welfare of elderly community members through regular visits to residential care homes.

The awards were organised by The Faith & Belief Forum – an organisation that exists to create good relations between people of different faiths and beliefs. The London Faith & Community Awards is a key initiative of the Forum which celebrates the vital work of local communities in making London a welcoming place for people of all faiths and beliefs.

Volunteers from the Mandir were presented with the award under the ‘Health and Wellbeing’ category by the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE during the awards ceremony held on 27 November 2018 in London. The Mandir was also selected for the Judge’s Commendation Award in the category for its work with the ‘Vadil Seva Kendra’, an elderly welfare centre hosted at the Mandir.

Volunteers have been delivering tailored programmes for residents at local care homes since 2014. Residents have, in turn, shared valuable life experiences with the volunteers, many of whom are young and have found the experiences enriching. As part of this community engagement, volunteers have also organised excursions to local places of interest, including visits to the Mandir.

Bhavna Parmar, a lead volunteer at the Mandir, shared at the awards ceremony, “We are extremely honoured and humbled to receive this award. The creator of the Neasden Temple, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj used to teach: “In the joy of others lies our own.” It is the joy of serving others itself which gives us our greatest joy and satisfaction. We hope and pray that we all continue to serve others selflessly and humbly, bringing joy to others, thereby finding our own joy too.”

Interfaith events are an integral component of the Mandir’s activities. An Interfaith Armistice Day Remembrance Ceremony was held at the Mandir in November 2018, and volunteers and worshippers from the Mandir joined community leaders and residents of various faiths to participate in a Peace Walk in September 2018. Children from the Mandir also participated at an interfaith music festival at The British Museum in March 2018. These events are often part of the Mandir’s observance of the annual National Inter Faith Week.

To learn more about the Faith & Belief Community Awards, please click here.

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

Interfaith Remembrance Marking Armistice Centenary
Friday 16 November 2018

A special interfaith assembly to pay tribute to soldiers from India and the Commonwealth who served during the First World War was held at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, on Friday 16 November 2018.

This year marks the 100th anniversary since Armistice Day (11 November 1918) – the day when the War formally came to an end. To commemorate this occasion, a programme of remembrance was held at the Mandir. The event coincided with National Inter Faith Week in the UK.

More than 1.5 million Indian Army soldiers served in the Great War, while 74,000 were killed and 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded to their ranks.

Representatives from various faiths began the assembly by lighting lamps. A trumpeter played the ‘Colonel Bogey March’ and ‘Qadam Qadam Badaye Ja’ – music representing marches of the British and Indian armies during World War One. The trumpeter, flanked by children holding 53 flags of the Commonwealth nations, also performed the national anthems of Great Britain and India.

The instrumental performances were supported by uplifting recitals by children and soldiers, from poetry by Sarojini Naidu and Rabindranath Tagore. Inspiring videos depicting the bravery and resilience of Indian soldiers were also shown, while faith leaders offered the ‘mantrapushpanjali’, an ancient Hindu floral tribute, to the departed souls.

HE Euripides L Evriviades, High Commissioner of Cyprus and Chair of the Commonwealth Board of Governors, delivered a poignant message on behalf of the Commonwealth. Lord Gadhia explained the significance of the poppy made from khadi (the homespun cotton made famous by Mahatma Gandhi) which has been commissioned by The Royal British Legion in recognition of Gandhi’s loyalty to Britain.

Lord Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN and the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, said the event at the Mandir was “an incredible demonstration of the unity of mankind, the unity of remembrance, appreciation of friendship and ties of kinship”. Sardar Sulakhan Singh, Honorary President of the Namdhari Sikh Sangat UK, reflected on the “sacrifice of servicemen from various faiths who fought in the Great War [to enable us] all to live in happiness today”. Imam Mohammed Mahmoud of Finsbury Park Mosque described the event as “unique and long-awaited” and encouraged everyone to “preserve peace and keep it alive”. Several other faith and civic leaders were also present.

Also in attendance was Rt. Hon. Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons. Mr Tugendhat recently laid a wreath at India Gate in New Delhi in respect of Indian soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War. He spoke of the stories that Britain and India had written together and which bind the two countries.

Swami Yogvivekdas, Head Swami of the Mandir, concluded by sharing His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s message for the evening: “I pray for the peace and liberation of the many souls who sacrificed their lives for all of us – not only in World War One but in all the many wars since. May their sacrifices always be remembered and may the need for such sacrifices never arise again.”

The Mandir recently paid homage to the heroes of the First World War by installing a poppy display outside the Mandir. It was one of 14 locations selected by The Royal British Legion to display large poppies featuring moving messages from the First World War generation woven along threads that pointed to 20-ft installation at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.

Carers UK Produce Gujarati Guidebook for Caring with BAPS Partnership
Thursday 8 November 2018

Carers UK have launched their popular ‘Looking after someone’ guide in Gujarati. It is a product of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s ongoing partnership with Carers UK which began during the Annual Challenge in April 2018 where more than 3,000 enthusiastic participants from across the UK joined together to raise funds for various good causes.

Carers UK is the country’s only national membership charity for carers. It aims to make life better for the 6.5 million people in the UK who are supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill.

‘Looking after someone’ is a tool for anyone caring for family or friends. It outlines the rights of carers and provides an overview of the practical and financial support available to them. Kashmira Popatia, a wheelchair- and oxygen-bound volunteer at BAPS who is herself supported by a full-time carer had worked closely with Carers UK to create the Gujarati guide.

The publication will enable Gujarati carers to draw upon support, ensuring that they can in turn provide the best level of care to those they are supporting in their respective communities.

Hannah Hockin, Corporate and Events Fundraiser at Carers UK, presented the guide to Mrs Popatia during the Hindu New Year festivities at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, on Thursday 8 November 2018.

The unveiling of this new guide follows the cheque presentation made to Carers UK in September for the funds raised during the Annual Challenge. Professor David Grayson CBE, Chair of Carers UK, also thanked BAPS for its support in a letter that was sent on 29 September 2018. He wrote: “We [Carers UK] are looking forward to continuing our partnership together, and have much to look forward to – not least the ‘Looking after someone guide’ in Gujarati…. We believe that this resource will also help us to leave a lasting legacy of our partnership. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with you in support of our vision of a society that respects, values and supports our carers.”

Mrs Popatia added, “It is very encouraging to see the tangible outputs from the annual charity Challenge. This booklet has made the life of carers in the Gujarati community much better and I hope that it will improve the lives of those in the community who are struggling to find access to appropriate resources.”

To learn more about the work of Carers UK, please visit their website at www.carersuk.org.

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

Mayor of London Visits to Celebrate Hindu New Year
Thursday 8 November 2018

The Mayor of London, Rt. Hon. Sadiq Khan, joined thousands of devotees and visitors at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, on Thursday 8 November 2018 to celebrate the Hindu New Year.

This was Mr Khan’s third visit to the Mandir, following his previous visit in November 2013, while he was MP for Tooting, Shadow Justice Secretary, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Minister for London, and again as mayoral candidate for London in 2015.

Mr Khan joined swamis shortly after 11.30am inside the upper sanctum for rituals thanking God for his bountiful providence.

The Mayor then joined the congregation in the assembly hall where an artistically arranged annakut (literally, ‘mountain of food’) was offered to God in thanksgiving as the first meal of the New Year. Mr Khan was welcomed in traditional Hindu manner with a garland of fresh flowers by Sadguru Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami, visiting from India, and Yogvivek Swami, Head Sadhu of the Mandir.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Khan spoke of the valuable multi-faceted contributions that the Hindu community makes to the capital. The Mayor added, “When I walk around this temple and I meet the volunteers, it inspires me. You show that is it possible to be a proud Hindu, and it is also possible to be a proud Londoner and to be proudly British.”

Reflecting on the contribution of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the creator of the Mandir, the Mayor said, “I am aware of the importance made not only to the life here in Neasden, not just to life in Brent, not just in London but around the world by the contributions of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.”

Sadguru Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami also addressed the assembly, praying for peace, harmony, success and righteous prosperity to prevail throughout the world.

The Mayor participated in the annakut arti before departing.

Poppy Installation Pays Tribute to WWI Soldiers
Thursday 25 October 2018

Photo Credit: The Royal British Legion

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London paid tribute to the heroes of the First World War by installing a poppy display outside the Mandir.

The poppy was adopted as a symbol of remembrance after the War to honour those who served and sacrificed their lives. The Royal British Legion, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of the War, launched its annual poppy appeal on 25 October 2018 by unveiling a 20-foot poppy memorial at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

The memorial features moving messages from the First World War generation woven along the threads that culminate in the large red flower. The threads point to 14 other partner displays around the UK. The Legion explains that the aim of the partner displays is to “highlight how the legacy of the First World War is woven through the fabric of the nation, often in unexpected places.”

The Mandir has been selected for a partner display to pay tribute to the Indian Army for its sacrifices to protect a foreign land. More than 1.5 million Indian Army soldiers served in the Great War, while 70,000 were killed and 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded to their ranks.

The words of Indian Veteran Sepoy Waris Khan of the 22nd Regiment, Nowshera, are embedded in the display at the Temple: “Do not be anxious my dear friend. Every man whom God created is bound to die someday.”

Other locations for the poppies include No. 10 Downing Street (London), Queen Mary’s Hospital (Sidcup, Kent), The Response Memorial (Newcastle), Deepdale Stadium (Preston), The Royal Pavillion (Brighton), The Library of Birmingham, Edinburgh Napier University, Ballyclare Football Club (County Antrim), and Women’s Land Army Tribute (Staffordshire).

Kesh Morjaria, a volunteer at the Mandir, shared, “We are deeply honoured to have been chosen as a partner and offer our heartfelt respects to those who served so selflessly for our country and our peace and liberty. We hope that the many hundreds of tourists, worshippers and visitors that pass the Mandir each day will observe this display and take a few moments to offer their own personal respects and gratitude to our heroes.”

The Mandir will also be hosting a special remembrance service on the evening of Friday 16 November, with faith and community leaders joining from all over the country.

To learn more about the poppy memorial and The Royal British Legion, please click the respective links.

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

Interfaith Peace Walk and Tree Planting
Sunday 30 September 2018

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London joined community leaders and residents of various faiths to participate in a Peace Walk passing through diverse communities and places of worship in Brent on Sunday 30 September 2018.

The event was organised by the Brent Multi Faith Forum and brought together approximately 150 people who visited the Islamic Culture Centre in Wembley, Harlesden Ummah Community Centre, Harlesden Methodist Church, and BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden. The group also stopped at Harlesden Town Garden and collectively planted three apple trees to commemorate the coming together of the faith communities.

Multi-faith prayer meetings were held at the respective faith centres with leaders opening their doors and extending hands of friendship to promote faith cohesion and collaboration within the local neighbourhood. The congregation also shared a meal together which provided a forum to appreciate each other’s experiences and forge newfound friendships.

Volunteers at the Mandir extended a warm, traditional welcome to walkers with the beating of Indian drums and tying of symbolic threads upon the wrists of the faith leaders as a symbol of friendship and harmony. The guests were taken on a guided tour of the Mandir and provided with refreshments.

The Mayor of Brent, Cllr Arshad Mahmood, and Leader of the Brent Council, Cllr Muhammed Butt, were also present and shared their messages of encouragement and pride during the day.

The Peace Walk and tree planting ceremony were testament to the strengthened bonds forged between the faith communities over the course of the wider Harlesden Multi-Faith Network project that began in April.

Kirit Wadia, a lead interfaith volunteer at the Mandir, offered his impressions of the day: “Planting a tree is considered an act of great merit in Hinduism. However, today’s event is an especially auspicious and happy occasion, not because we are planting a tree – but because we are planting a tree together. We therefore pray that our collective efforts take deep root, branch out far and wide, and bear sweet fruit for the whole of Brent.”

The event forms part of the Mandir’s ongoing commitment to interfaith harmony. Children from the Mandir participated at an interfaith music festival at The British Museum in March 2018, and regularly participates in the annual National Interfaith Initiative.

£20,000 Cheque Presentation to Carers UK
Saturday 8 September 2018

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha presented a cheque for £20,000 to Carers UK during a special evening assembly on Saturday 8 September 2018 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.

The funds were raised during the BAPS Annual 10K Challenge, which brought together more than 3,000 enthusiastic participants from towns and cities across the UK in April 2018 for a fun and healthy way to raise money.

This year’s national charity partner was Carers UK, the country’s only national membership charity for carers. It aims to make life better for the 6.5 million people in the UK who are supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill.

The cheque was presented to Jeremy Gould, Head of Fundraising at Carers UK. Following the presentation, Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy & Public Affairs at Carers UK, said, “We have enjoyed a fantastic year working in partnership with BAPS across the UK, collaborating on a range of different activities to help identify unpaid carers in local communities and connect them with information, support and advice. We are delighted that so many members of the BAPS community were able to take part in the Annual 10K Challenge and raise much-needed funds to support our work.

“As part of the partnership, we are developing a new Gujarati language version of our flagship ‘Looking After Someone Guide’. We look forward to further activities with BAPS this year. Thank you for your outstanding support.”

Dr Mayank Shah, a lead volunteer for BAPS, added, “His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj encourages us all to help others and care for the elderly. We are delighted that our annual charity Challenge has provided an opportunity to help carers further their noble service and has provided a tool for the local community to learn more about looking after a carer. We are looking forward to continuing our work with Carers UK throughout the year.”

Professor David Grayson CBE, Chair of Carers UK, also thanked BAPS for its support in a letter that was sent on 29 September 2018. He wrote: “We [Carers UK] are looking forward to continuing our partnership together, and have much to look forward to – not least the ‘Looking After Someone Guide’ in Gujarati…. We believe that this resource will also help us to leave a lasting legacy of our partnership. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with you in support of our vision of a society that respects, values and supports our carers.”

To learn more about the work of Carers UK, please visit their website at www.carersuk.org.

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

23rd Anniversary Patotsav
Wednesday 5 September 2018

His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj inaugurated BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on the Hindu calendric day of Shravan Vad 10 (Sunday 20 August) in 1995. Since that historic day, the internationally acclaimed Mandir has inspired millions of worshippers, visitors and members of the local community to experience a profound sense of peace, fulfilment and spiritual harmony.

The 23rd anniversary of the Mandir was celebrated in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami on Wednesday 5 September 2018.

Swamis 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 special Vedic ceremony in the morning. Devotees also prayed for God to bless the world with peace, prosperity and harmony.

A variety of sweet and savoury dishes were artistically arranged before the deities in the main shrines to thank God for his providence. Visitors observed this traditional offering of food (‘annakut’) and also participated in the abhishek (ritual bathing of Shri Nilkanth Varni).

Devotees visited the Mandir throughout the day to offer their devout veneration on this special day.

Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations
Monday 3 September 2018

The birth celebrations of Shri Krishna Bhagwan were piously observed in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami as well as senior swamis visiting from India at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. 

Shri Krishna – an avatar of Vishnu and a popular deity for Hindus around the world – manifested on the Earth on the Hindu calendrical day of Shravan Vad 8. The festival marking his birth this year fell on Monday 3 September and was celebrated with a host of devotional festivities.

Devotees and visitors arrived at the Mandir throughout the day to offer their prayers and respects as well as gently swing the image 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 shrines in the upper sanctum.

An enlightening assembly was held in the evening where swamis narrated the life and messages of Krishna Bhagwan, while youths sang devotional songs extolling his personality and virtues.

Bhadresh Swami discussed Arjuna’s unshakeable faith in Krishna Bhagwan that he demonstrated amid various challenges throughout his life. Brahmavihari Swami expanded on the spiritual teachings that Krishna Bhagwan revealed in the Mahabharat.

Anandswarup Swami spoke of Shri Krishna’s mission to eradicate evil and instil piety in the world. Tyagvallabh Swami summarised the discourses by encouraging devotees to eradicate their base instincts and strengthen their devotion to God.

Children, youths and swamis marked the divine birth of Shri Krishna Bhagwan with the arti followed by the joyous swinging of the cradle accompanied with vibrant devotional singing to bring the festivities to a close.

Neasden Temple Featured on BBC’s Gardeners’ World
Friday 17 August 2018

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London was featured in a special edition of the BBC’s Gardeners’ World programme on Friday 17 August 2018.

Gardeners’ World is a gardening show providing ideas, tips and advice from experts on how to get the most out of your garden. It is one of the UK’s longest-running and best-loved gardening shows, first broadcast in 1968 and watched by over 2 million every week.

The airing on Friday 17 August 2018 was part of the BBC’s Big British Asian Summer – a season of programming to celebrate the cultural as well as artistic contributions of Asian Britons.

This special edition of the popular series explored the fusion of British and Indian cultures that are represented by the flowers, plants and walkways housed in the gardens of the Mandir. Monty Don OBE, with the help of Sunita Patel, a Mandir volunteer, experienced the profound sense of calm that the gardens provide to visitors as well as the fascinating blend of eastern and western horticultural styles that are interwoven into the garden’s classical design.

The programme also highlighted the floral motifs in the stone and wooden carvings of the Mandir and the offering of flowers to the deities as part of the daily devotional rituals at the Mandir.

The gardens of the Mandir have previously received first prizes and an ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award in the ‘Brent in Bloom’ garden competitions, which have recognised the Mandir’s contribution to the attractiveness of the local borough and the environment.

Sunita shared, “We’re delighted to contribute to the BBC’s focus of South Asian influences on British gardens. And it’s always humbling to be able to bring colour and joy to our local community as well as visitors from all over the world through our gardens.”

To learn more about the hour-long programme, please visit the BBC Gardeners’ World site here. It is also available to watch in the UK from the BBC iPlayer here until 16 September 2018.

To learn more about the Mandir garden, please click here.

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

Observing World Environment Day
Tuesday 5 June 2018

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:

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  

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.

Neasden Temple Enters TripAdvisor ‘Hall of Fame’
Wednesday 23 May 2018

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London – popularly known as the ‘Neasden Temple’ – has been awarded a ‘Certificate of Excellence’ from TripAdvisor for the fifth consecutive year, entering the Mandir into the TripAdvisor ‘HALL OF FAME’.

TripAdvisor is considered the world’s largest and most popular travel site, with more than 455 million monthly average unique visitors giving over 630 million reviews and opinions so far for 7.5 million hotels, restaurants, airlines and attractions. 

“TripAdvisor is excited to announce the 2018 Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame recipients, which have consistently received strong praise and ratings from travellers,” said Heather Leisman, Vice President of Industry Marketing, TripAdvisor. The annual recognition is based on the quality, quantity and recency of reviews posted by travellers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period.

The Mandir currently ranks 77th among 5,871 attractions or 1,828 ‘things to do’ in London. More specifically, it ranks 5th on the list of ‘Architectural Buildings of London’, and 2nd (after Westminster Abbey) among ‘Sacred & Religious Sites in London’.

Jitesh Chotai, a lead volunteer at the Mandir, said, “Everyone at the Mandir is humbled by this latest accolade and the positive reviews we receive from all over the world. We take this opportunity to thank all our visitors, and especially our tireless volunteers who strive to keep the Mandir clean, functioning and welcoming – ensuring we can provide an enriching experience to all our worshippers and visitors.”

To view the Mandir’s page on TripAdvisor, please click here.

For more visitor feedback submitted by educational groups and others, please follow the respective links.

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

Community Safety Day with Brent Safer Neighbourhood Board
Saturday 19 May 2018

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, organised a community safety day on Saturday 19 May 2018 for the local borough of Brent.

The event was delivered in partnership with the Brent Safer Neighbourhood Board (SNB) – a body of various community representatives that provides a greater voice for local people and victims of crime in setting policing priorities and improving consultation between the community, the police, the council and other partners.

Gill Close, Chair of the Board, was present and addressed a gathering at the Mandir in the evening. She discussed practical ways of preventing burglaries and shared valuable guidance on reporting crime.

A small information stall was set up in the foyer which provided free literature to visitors. Members of the SNB were present to answer questions from worshippers and neighbours on keeping themselves, their homes and their possessions safe, as well as the correct ways to report crime. Each visitor was also free to choose one gift item from the stall that would help improve home safety and prevent crime.

The session forms part of the Mandir’s ongoing commitment to help the local community stay safe and combat crime. It follows a crime prevention drive held in conjunction with Harlesden Police in February 2018.

Sharing her impressions of the event, Gill said, “Many thanks for all of the help you provided for the SNB crime prevention stall. Thanks also for providing volunteers to help distribute leaflets which enabled the stalls to function effectively. It was encouraging to see the level of interest from so many community members and we hope this helps them to remain safe.”

A local resident added, “The information that was provided is very useful in helping the community as a whole combat crime and inform the relevant authorities when they fall victim of or witness crime. The leaflets also provide very useful information which I will share with my friends and family to keep them all safe.”

Annual Charity Challenge
Sunday 29 April 2018

More than 1,500 people in London – from toddlers through to senior citizens – joined the BAPS Annual 10K Challenge on Sunday 29 April 2018.

The annual 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 will go towards supporting BAPS’s multifarious educational, community and spiritual activities serving children, youths, families and the elderly.

The 2018 Challenge will also be supporting BAPS’s national charity partner, Carers UK, the country’s only national membership charity for carers. It aims to make life better for the 6.5 million people in the UK who are supporting a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill.

Previous national partners for BAPS and BAPS Charities have included Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, the Anthony Nolan Trust, Barnardo’s, Breast Cancer Care, the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK, KIDS and Macmillan Cancer Support.

The event kicked off shortly after 10.00am from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, in the presence of Ms Heléna Herklots CBE, CEO of Carers UK, Cllr Bhagwanjibhai Chohan, the Mayor of the London Borough of Brent, and Cllr Margaret Davine, the Mayor of the London Borough of Harrow. Also present were MPs Dawn Butler and Bob Blackman, Leader of Brent Council Cllr Muhammed Butt, and several other esteemed guests.

Addressing the gathering, Ms Herklots said, “It’s wonderful to join you and see so many of you here. Thank you all for the partnership you have with Carers UK. We are delighted and honoured to be working with you. We’re here to champion the support for caring and look forward to our year together working with you.”

After the opening ceremony, walkers, joggers and runners moved to the Gibbons Recreation Ground (opposite BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London) to complete their 10 kilometres. Young children completed a number of circuits of their own around the perimeter of the Mandir while participating in various entertaining activities en route.

Jay Patel, a lead volunteer, shared, “Caring for the elderly is an important service which His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj encourages. We are delighted to have an opportunity to help carers perform their noble work to the best of their ability. A special thank you to all the members of the local community who have come out today in support of the event.”

Vandan Patel, a young participant aged eleven, added, “It’s really fun to walk and race with my friends and help to raise money for charity. Helping other people is something we learn at the Mandir every week so this is our chance to do it.”

To learn more about Carers UK, please visit their website here.

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

Senior Health Convention
Saturday 14 April 2018

A health convention was organised at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, for senior members of the fellowship.

The event, attended by over 200 people, was in response to growing concerns about health and fitness amongst 40- to 55-year-olds, and provided valuable information and guidance for managing personal health, diet and fitness.

The day began with a welcome message from Yogvivek Swami who offered guidance and encouragement to the gathering. Thereafter, Dr Kalpesh Besherdas, Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, outlined key health indicators that attendees should understand and monitor regularly.

Girish Patel, a lead volunteer and AAA National Coach, was also on hand to provide guidance on preparing for long-term physical exercises, including stretching and body coordination.

Laura Holland, from the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, discussed prevention and treatment of sports injuries. The Tottenham Hotspur Foundation has recently begun a partnership with London Mandir and BAPS Charities to improve wellbeing and fitness in the local community. This inspiring initiative began in April 2018, when it was launched in the presence of star Spurs footballer Ben Davies. (See news report here.)

An emphasis on diet was an important component of the seminar. Reshma Patel, a registered dietician, discussed cooking techniques and offered practical tips in relation to the preparation of healthier Gujarati meals.

Swamis alluded to the health benefits of yoga and explained how spiritual techniques can further enhance the holistic wellbeing of an individual.

The holistic health event was very well received by delegates. One of the attendees, Varsha Patel, shared her impressions of the day: “Learning about the variety of techniques available to improve my physical health was a real eye-opener. It was particularly useful to understand how exercise, diet and meditation can work hand-in-hand to positively improve my health. Thank you for explaining these concepts so clearly.”

The second phase of the convention is scheduled for July 2018 with an emphasis on physical fitness techniques and exercises. Future health conventions will also be organised for younger and older generations.

Ben Davies Visits from Tottenham Hotspur Foundation for Wellbeing Programme
Wednesday 11 April 2018

Tottenham Hotspur’s Ben Davies visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on Wednesday 11 April 2018 for ‘Wellbeing 4 You’, a physical fitness programme that the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation is running in partnership with the Mandir.

The programme, which is delivered all year round to over 200 members of the Mandir, is the only project of its kind in London. The Premier League-funded programme supports the temple community by offering a weight management course, regular health checks, culture-specific nutritional advice, and a range of physical activities, such as seated exercises, football coaching and community walks. It aims to help decrease the members’ risk of long-term health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

The Welsh defender took part in a seated exercise session with elderly participants and helped to coach a football session for a group of youngsters from The Swaminarayan School, Europe’s first independent Hindu school which is situated opposite the Mandir.

Davies also took part in a question and answer session with the children about the importance of equality and inclusion in football. This was organised by Kick It Out – an organisation that tackles all forms of racism and discrimination in football, to ensure the game is open and welcome to all.   

Davies, Kick It Out Ambassador, said, “As a professional footballer, leading a healthy lifestyle is part of my day-to-day routine, but it’s not easy for everyone to keep fit. It’s great to see the Club supporting Hindu communities such as these to help improve their physical and mental health and ensure football is open to all.”

Rena Amin, a leading volunteer at the Mandir, added, “Working with the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to deliver ‘Wellbeing 4 You’ has been beneficial for all of those who attend the temple, whether they are young or old. Programmes like these not only improve the health of the participants, but they are also a great way of bringing the community together and breaking down cultural barriers.”

The ‘Wellbeing 4 You’ programme is a part of Tottenham Hotspur’s commitment to the London Borough of Brent during its season playing home matches at Wembley.

To learn more about the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, please click here.

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

All photos courtesy of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

‘Timeless Hinduism’ Youth Seminars
Saturday 24 March & 7 April 2018

On Saturday 24 March 2018, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir welcomed over 200 Hindu youths to the first instalment of ‘Timeless’ – a two-part seminar exploring the continued relevance of Hinduism in today’s modern world.

The day began with a sumptuous Indian brunch, after which participants received a guided tour of the Mandir complex before performing the traditional Hindu abhishek ceremony and participating in the arti.

The main seminar sessions then explored fundamental principles of Hinduism and the integral role that they play in today’s society, especially in the context of student life in the UK.

Swamis spoke on the relevance of spirituality to our hectic lives and used ancient scriptural teachings to offer practical solutions to contemporary issues facing youths, such as peer pressure, self-consciousness, and the need for external validation.

The concepts were consolidated through interactive workshops which allowed delegates to discuss in groups, participate in practical exercises, and read literature to further their understanding of scriptures, mandirs and themselves.

The day concluded with a traditional Indian vegetarian meal.

Vishal Patel, one of the many volunteers who helped organise the event, explained, “The presentations and workshops helped many learn more about Hinduism and what’s important to their friends – their beliefs, values, practices. We believe this openness to share and learn is a vital part of our dialogue with the wider community.”

One guest later wrote, “I loved that event! It blew my mind. Very interesting + educational. I learnt so much about the scriptures and the talks by the swamis were really inspiring.”

Another added: “I left the event with a somewhat new and revived perspective and understanding of Hinduism. Everyone was lively and made me feel welcome, irrespective of my background. The talks and workshops were also creatively presented and very relatable. Overall a well-organized, enjoyable and insightful day!”

Part 2 followed on Saturday 7 April, this time focusing specifically on the Mahabharat, one of Hinduism’s most popular epics. The theme again explored ancient teachings to address personal, modern-day challenges. The swamis’ insightful talks covered the underlying reasons for conflict and how to move towards lasting resolution.

Nishta remarked, “I had never imagined that something written thousands of years ago could be so relatable to me today. Very imaginative and thought-provoking event.”