BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the UK raised over £600,000 in six days to support BAPS’s Covid-19 relief work in India.
India is experiencing an unrelenting surge in infections and deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, with its hospitals coming under extreme pressure from shortages of oxygen and critical care beds.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, launched an emergency campaign to support the BAPS relief efforts in India on 24 April 2021. As a part of this initiative, BAPS began a ‘Cycle to Save Lives in India’ campaign on 28 April 2021 – a 48-hour, non-stop static relay cycle challenge. It aimed to cover 7,600 kilometres – the distance between London and Delhi – but ended up almost tripling that by cycling 20,127 kilometres!
787 participants, as part of a relay, cycled during the day and throughout the night from Saturday 1 May to Monday 3 May at BAPS Swaminarayan mandirs in London, Chigwell and Leicester. Their collective efforts, sponsored by more than 14,000 donors, raised over £600,000 – every penny of which will be directed towards the life-saving relief efforts in India.
The cycles were arranged outside the respective mandirs, following strict social distancing guidelines. They were also thoroughly sanitised after every use.
Ketan Patel, one of the cyclists, shared, “Like so many others, it’s been heart-breaking watching the news about the situation in India. I wanted to do something to help, but didn’t know how. It came to a point where we couldn’t just watch on and worry. So when I heard about this cycle challenge, I quickly registered. It’s the perfect way to raise funds and awareness. I thoroughly enjoyed cycling in the early hours of the morning. It reminded me of those brave medics and volunteers working day and night in India.”
Radhika Kholia, a volunteer who was logging the distance covered by each cyclist as well as sanitising the bikes, added, “Our hearts and prayers go out to all those suffering in India during this Covid surge. Although we are thousands of kilometres away from them, every distance logged from the cyclists brought us closer together. It is heart-warming to see how a united effort can bring hope in even the direst of situations. I am honoured to have an opportunity to stand by the people of India and support the heroic relief efforts. It’s what Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life embodied and what he taught us: ‘In the joy of others lies our own.’”
Dr Mayank Shah, a trustee for BAPS, added, “We’ve been blown away by the incredible support of the community. More than 14,000 people have donated to this cause! We’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to each and every one of these supporters as well as all of our cyclists and tireless volunteers for making this event so fruitful.”
Yogvivekdas Swami, head of the mandir in London, also said, “It’s a tragedy anywhere in the world when lives are being impacted by this deadly virus. We have to work together as one human community, because, ultimately, the only way we will be safe here is if everyone is safe everywhere.”
For the latest news and updates about the ongoing work of BAPS in the UK and the international Covid relief efforts for India, please follow London Mandir’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts (@neasdentemple).