On 20 August the ‘Neasden Temple’ commemorated the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Mandir, the first traditional Hindu mandir of its kind in Europe. Eminent personalities from Prince Charles to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Mayor of London sent their tributes to the Mandir for its community service for last 25 years and especially at the frontlines of Covid-19 pandemic.
In August 1995, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj inaugurated BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London – bringing to fruition years of sacrifice and devotion for thousands of worshippers and well-wishers.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of this momentous occasion, a series of inspiring, devotional events were held for everyone to enjoy and share. These included special programmes for women, children as well as a tribute to the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
A key feature of these celebrations was a global online Vishwa Shanti Mahapuja – a unique online Vedic ceremony for family harmony and world peace. It was held in the presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj on Saturday 22 August. The mahapuja was conducted from the shrines at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, by the resident swamis. His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj joined in the opening rituals from Nenpur, India, via a live video link.
The explanations of the various components and rituals were narrated in English and Gujarati, and accompanied with written guidance throughout the ceremony which helped families perform the mahapuja correctly. More than 30,000 individuals from 33 countries participated in this special event from their own homes. The mahapuja provided an opportunity for everyone to pray for those affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Swamis of the Mandir performed a musical tribute on 23 August with a medley of kirtans during Mahant Swami Maharaj’s puja. The live performance in London, relayed to Nenpur via video conference facilities, journeyed through the inspiring history of the Mandir.
Swamis eloquently sang a selection of kirtans composed especially for this occasion. The patotsav ceremony, to commemorate the anniversary of when the murtis were infused with the divine presence of God, was performed later in the morning of 23 August. Swamis conducted the rituals, including the abhishek of the murtis. Mahant Swami Maharaj also performed the abhishek in London from India via a remote facility and also performed the ceremonial arti at noon which was broadcast live on the webcast.
The celebrations concluded with a documentary-style production that explored the rich history and challenging creation of London Mandir and its profound, enduring impact on worshippers and visitors around the world. It also revealed how everyone can become a part of the divine legacy of Pramukh Swami Maharaj that continues to flourish today through the guidance and blessings of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.
Prince Charles lauds BAPS for its remarkable spirit of volunteerism
Prince Charles began his video message to the BAPS Mandir with a “namaste” and “Jai Swaminarayan”.
The Prince of Wales said he was impressed with BAPS’s “remarkable spirit of volunteerism and community service and the sheer sense of peace and tranquility one experiences at the Neasden Temple. I have also been struck by the very special beauty and craftsmanship of the building,
“It has given me immense pride to learn of the way in which the Hindu community, including such a large number of BAPS volunteers, have been so active in their support for those in need – providing thousands of hot meals and assistance for the elderly and most vulnerable. The Temple had reached beyond the Hindu community and welcomed millions of visitors from all faiths and none, in order to share perspectives and learn from one another.
According to him, Neasden Mandir embodies Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s message, “In the joy of others lies our own.
Prime Minister Johnson congratulates BAPS, a proud British landmark
In the meantime, prime minister Boris Johnson also took to Twitter to wish the temple a “very happy 25th anniversary”, adding that it was “a proud British landmark and one of the greatest gifts that the Hindu community has given to the UK”. Johnson had visited the temple ahead of 2019 General Elections alongside Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Mayor of London says BAPS a shining example of embracing multi-culturalism
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan also congratulated the Mandir for rendering its services to Londoners. He tweeted,
“Today we celebrate Neasden Temple’s 25th anniversary. The Mandir and local Hindu community are a shining example of how here in London we don’t just tolerate our differences but embrace and celebrate them. Thank you for your huge contribution to our city.”
Indian PM Modi recalls visit to the Mandir
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also recalled his visit to the Neasden Temple in his Twitter message. He tweeted, “Neasden Temple marks its silver jubilee. The Temple has been at the forefront of many community service initiatives. It has brought people together and inspired them to work for humanity. When I was Gujarat CM, I had the honour of visiting the Temple.”