News and Events

Celebrating International Women’s Day
Saturday 10 March 2018

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir observed the UN’s International Women’s Day, which falls annually on 8 March, with an inspiring conference titled ‘Celebrating Women: Strength in Unity’. It formed one of the thousands of events held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements.

More than 1,100 women of all ages gathered for the conference on Saturday 10 March 2018.

The conference focused on three important themes for promoting unity that are inspired by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS. The first theme, ‘Be Kind’, covered elements of generosity and selflessness through organ donation. The second theme, ‘Be Mindful’, focussed on the importance of reducing the growing intergenerational gap in families and society. And the third theme, ‘Be Aware’, dealt with the potential negative impacts of social media and the need to manage external influences.

These topics were presented through an interactive programme of sketches, multimedia presentations, discussion panels, game shows and speeches by esteemed women of the community. Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central, was one of the guest speakers of the evening. She paid tribute to the contribution of women internationally. She also said, “If you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation. If you treat women well, your country will be well.” She concluded by encouraging everyone to recite and believe that they are ‘phenomenal’ and urged them to share this message amongst women far and wide.

Mrs Meena Modi OBE, a former headteacher at a school in Watford, also joined the conference and explained her journey to transform Chater Infant School into an “outstanding” Ofsted-rated school. She also shared details of her kidney donation to her husband, and how this act of selflessness positively impacted her wider family. This was echoed by Kanchan Bhagat, who received a kidney from her daughter Swati. Both women also addressed the assembly.

Delegates were inspired from their accounts and gained an appreciation of the “gift of life” that organ donation provides. ‘Being kind’, they learnt, has the ability to transcend the barriers of age and background and unify people across the world.

A number of delegates shared their impressions of the conference. Sheila Patel, a working mother of two children, stated, “Thank you so much for organising this enlightening conference which gave me the belief that I can manage my career, my family as well as make positive contributions in so many other areas. The stress and anxiety management workshops were particularly useful.”

After the conference, attendees enjoyed the opportunity to network over dinner and share their perspectives on the various inspiring themes of the day.

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.

Crime Prevention Awareness Drive
Saturday 17 & 24 February 2018

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, organised a crime prevention drive on Saturday 17 and 24 February 2018. The events were planned in response to the significant rise in burglaries across the UK, and were delivered in partnership with the Metropolitan Police.

The sessions were attended by various members of the local community, including patients of the nearby Brentfield Medical Centre.

Detective Inspector Kamal Patel, Metropolitan Police Lead for Community Engagement, delivered an insightful presentation to the assembly as part of the campaign. He provided useful information on the current state of burglaries and how the community can work together to prevent crime from happening.

Information stalls were also displayed in the foyer of the Mandir during both weekends, where police officers from Harlesden Police Station engaged with worshippers and neighbours to combat crime and answered questions from the public on keeping themselves, their homes and their possessions safe.

Dan Novakovic, one of the police officers at the event, said, “It was very encouraging to see so many people from the local community attend this event and ask questions, as well as take a keen interest in the informational material. Thank you to the organisers and volunteers at the Temple who helped us reach out to the community to protect them from being victims of crime.”

A local resident added, “Thank you for inviting us here and providing such valuable information. It was so reassuring to learn how simple, basic measures can help prevent me from being targeted by burglars. It also gives me confidence that we, as a community, can work together to fight against crime in our neighbourhood.”

Further information about crime prevention is available on the Police advice page here.

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

Annual Charity Challenge Launch
Saturday 17 February 2018

The BAPS Annual 10K Challenge for 2018 was launched on the evening of Saturday 17 February at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.

The official partner for this year’s charity Challenge, which takes place in April, is Carers UK, the UK’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 Challenge brings together more than 3,000 enthusiastic participants of all ages and backgrounds around the country for a fun and healthy way to raise funds for various worthy causes and local charities.

Jeremy Gould, Head of Fundraising for Carers UK, joined worshippers and guests at the Mandir for the official launch. Following a brief tour of the Mandir, Yogvivek Swami welcomed him to the assembly. Mr Gould elaborated on the work of Carers UK, adding that they are very excited to be working in partnership with BAPS.

Carers UK Chief Executive, Heléna Herklots CBE, said: “Caring for our loved ones who are disabled, older or seriously ill is simply part of being human. Carers are holding families together, enabling loved ones to get the most out of life, making an enormous contribution to society and saving the economy billions of pounds.

“Many carers are stretched to the limit – juggling care with work and family life, or even struggling with poor health themselves. It can be difficult to make ends meet as a carer if it’s not possible to work as many hours or stay in work at all.

“Every day 6,000 people become carers. Many don’t know how or where to get help. It can feel overwhelming and be very lonely. We are delighted to be working together with BAPS to reach many more people with information and support with caring.”

Dr Mayank Shah, one of the organisers of the Challenge, added, “Carers perform an incredibly important and honourable service. We at BAPS are guided and inspired by Mahant Swami Maharaj to care for and serve our families, friends and members of society. We are delighted to have an opportunity to help others who share our spirit of service, and to further the noble work of Carers UK.”

To learn more about Carers UK, please click here.

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

Maha Shivaratri Celebrations
Tuesday 13 February 2018

The festival of Maha Shivaratri was celebrated on Tuesday 13 February 2018 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.

Maha Shivaratri is special day in the Hindu calendar for offering reverence to Lord Shiva. Swamis began the festivities in the morning by performing the ritual bathing of the shivaling, an iconic representation of the popular Hindu deity symbolising his energy and potentiality.

Devotees and well-wishers arrived at the Mandir throughout the day to offer their respects and availed of the opportunity to bathe the shivaling with panchamrut (a holy mixture of milk, yoghurt, honey, sugar and ghee). In keeping with the traditions of this festival, bilva-patra (bael leaves) were also offered.

An ice shivaling was presented in the Haveli entrance throughout the day providing a reminder of the sacred pilgrimage town of Amarnath in India where a natural ice shivaling exists.

As part of celebrations at the Mandir, an annakut (offering of food for thanksgiving) was also decoratively assembled before the deities in the shrines.

Bone Marrow Appeal for Nine-Year-Old Yuvan
Saturday 27 January 2018

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London hosted a bone marrow awareness and recruitment drive on Saturday 27 January 2018.

The drive was in support of children such as Yuvan, a 9-year-old boy suffering from leukaemia. His condition was diagnosed 4 years ago but unfortunately relapsed and now his best chance of surviving is to find a bone marrow transplant match. There are 2,000 people searching for a blood stem cell donor every year in the UK and unfortunately 70% of UK patients do not find a matching donor in their families. Finding a matching tissue type is much more difficult for patients of Asian, Black and Ethnic minority backgrounds.

BAPS Charities therefore strives to undertake bone marrow donor recruitment drives to increase the number of Asian donors on the national register.

The most recent drive was performed together with DKMS, a charity that works to increase recruitment onto the National Bone Marrow Registry. The Mandir has previously hosted DKMS in 2013 and 2015.

Together with DKMS and friends of Yuvan’s family, volunteers from BAPS Charities held a highly energetic drive raising awareness about the need for bone marrow donors and registering new potential donors. It was a huge success with 215 new registrants.

Vinay Thakkar, father of Yuvan, said, “BAPS Charities has been truly amazing in arranging the drive at very short notice. This kind of effort brings a lot of hope and energy to a family like ours and especially to children like Yuvan. We cannot thank BAPS Charities enough for helping us in this crucial journey in our fight against leukaemia.”

Lisa Nugent from DKMS added, “A big thank you to the entire team at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir for all their support with the recent donor registration event. 215 people signed up as potential lifesavers, which is a fabulous result. We are grateful to everyone who gave up their time to register and who will potentially give a patient a second chance of life in the future.”

The challenge of matching the need of bone marrow donors in the Asian community continues and we encourage others to register. To find out more information about the eligibility criteria and to register online, please visit the DKMS and Anthony Nolan Trust websites at the respective links.

A bone marrow transplant can save a life!

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