News and Events

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.”

‘Faiths In Tune’ Interfaith Music Festival at The British Museum
Sunday 25 March 2018

Children from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London were invited to participate in the ‘Faiths In Tune’ music festival at the British Museum on Sunday 25 March 2018.

Faiths In Tune is an all-day interfaith musical festival that promotes interfaith dialogue and coexistence through music. Specifically, the Festival brings together hundreds of people of different cultures and faiths to share and experience music from their respective backgrounds.

The Mandir is committed to engaging, sharing and collaborating with different faith communities in the UK, including during the annual National Interfaith Week. The Mandir also provides a platform for children to learn and develop their musical skills and present their talent during various cultural programmes throughout the year.

The children contributed to a memorable musical festival by singing bhajans accompanied by the melodious sounds of traditional Indian musical instruments, including the tabla and harmonium. They also performed classical Indian dances.

Anja Fahlenkamp, Director of the Festival, said, “It was lovely to see and hear the dance and musical performance from the children of BAPS. They performed very well.”

Mehul Kathrani, one of the volunteers at the Mandir, added, “It was a privilege to perform at the British Museum. The students performed incredibly well in front of a large audience, and the quality of their delivery is a testimony of their dedication and the standard of teaching that they have received. Listening to music from such a diverse group of people at the Festival was a rewarding and enriching experience.”

A visiting tourist also shared, “Amazing performance of the Indian dance by the young students – wonderfully co-ordinated and hugely entertaining.”

To learn more about ‘Faiths In Tune’, please click here.

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

Earth Hour 2018
Saturday 24 March 2018

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London joined iconic landmarks as well as communities and organisations from more than 180 countries by switching off its non-essential lights to observe Earth Hour at 8.30pm on Saturday 24 March 2018.

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 the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, the Shard, and Piccadilly Circus.

Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. It is coordinated by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations. 

“Climate change is moving much faster than we are,” warns UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in a video for Earth Hour. “Its alarming impacts are upon us. Resources and ecosystems across the world are under assault. Earth Hour is an opportunity to show our resolve to change.” He added, “Protecting the environment is preserving life itself.”

Taking ‘action beyond the hour’ is a commitment that BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha continues to make as part of a wider initiative of supporting safer environmental practices. Shreya Desai, 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 Hindu faith and something that our spiritual leader 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.

Health Screening with the Royal Free Hospital
Saturday 24 March 2018

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir hosted a cardiovascular health screening session on Saturday 24 March 2018 in conjunction with BAPS Charities and the Royal Free Hospital – a major teaching hospital in Hampstead, London.

BAPS Charities has developed a longstanding partnership with the Hospital, which has fostered a series of health screening events for the local community over the past ten years.

This year, BAPS Charities has also partnered with the Tottenham Hotspurs Foundation, which is delivering a ten-week exercise and nutrition programme at the Mandir in April for people who are obese or overweight and not involved in regular sport or physical exercise.

A representative from the Foundation confirmed, “The health check provided an opportunity to educate the local community on the benefits of physical activity on their health and wellbeing.”

In total, 33 participants aged between 30 to 60 years benefitted from the event. Some of the attendees had been previously screened and diagnosed as being high-risk for heart disease and were therefore invited for a follow-up screening to assess their progress.

The health screening programme measured blood sugar, cholesterol, body mass index, blood pressure and body fat. Participants were given an opportunity to discuss the findings with doctors. Areas requiring attention were noted with corresponding guidance and follow-up plans agreed for affected attendees.

The session was very well received with positive feedback from all participants. One of the delegates shared, “Dr Sapna provided valuable advice on increasing my protein intake as part of my vegetarian diet. Many thanks for including me in the screening. I hope you are able to continue this offering in the future so that needy people can receive correct advice at the right time of their lives.”

Also in attendance was Dr John Licorish, Consultant in Public Health, Brent. His team informed attendees about tuberculosis as the screening coincided with World TB Day. Dr Licorish said, “I would also like to take the opportunity to commend you for all your hard work and the benefits that accrue to the local community.”

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.

National Gujarati Teachers’ Conference
Saturday 17 February 2018

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London welcomed 108 senior management representatives from 38 different supplementary schools, mandirs and community groups across England on Saturday 17 February 2018 to further their learning about the future of Gujarati language teaching.

The Conference was the first of its kind and focussed on the forthcoming changes to the GCSE Gujarati exams. Significant effort has been made since 2017 to avert the possible discontinuation of GCSE and A-Level exams in Gujarati. This Conference was the first opportunity for many schools and teachers to gain first-hand information about the new exam specifications being introduced by Pearson – the examination board that has assumed the administration and operation of GCSE and A-Level Gujarati.

The Conference was delivered through speeches, workshops and networking sessions designed around the theme of ‘Treasure, Innovate and Inspire’ – treasure and promote the rich heritage of the Gujarati language, innovate novel teaching methods and learn the latest information about the GCSE exams, and be inspired with renewed enthusiasm to teach Gujarati to the young and bring awareness to their parents.

Key speakers for this Conference included Alistair Drewery, Languages Subject Advisor for Pearson, Pascale Vassie OBE, Executive Director for the National Resource Centre for Secondary Education, Bernadette Holmes MBE from the language campaign group Speak to the Future, and Anju Bhatt, from CVS Brent, who provided guidance on acquiring grants and funding support for Gujarati teaching.

The Conference was further enriched with the visit of Gareth Thomas MP, the Member of Parliament for Harrow West, who campaigned heavily last year to save the Gujarati exam from being discontinued. His open letter to the Secretary of Education, petitioning for the continuation of the Gujarati GCSE and A-Level exams, received over 8,000 signatures.

Viveksagar Swami, a senior swami of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, shared motivational messages of Gujarati learning and teaching via a recorded video presentation. Video blessings were also played from His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, who stressed the value of all Gujarati schools working together.

Feedback from the delegates was overwhelmingly positive with many pledging to attend the next conference in greater numbers. A number of attendees also expressed their happiness at the opportunity to network with and meet many schools from their respective towns and cities as well as further afield.

 

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.