From its inauguration by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in August 1995, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London (popularly recognised as the ‘Neasden Temple’) has provided worshippers, visitors and local residents with a profound sense of spirituality, community, peace and inspiration.
To officially begin the year-long celebrations leading to the Mandir’s 20th anniversary in 2015, a special evening assembly was held in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami, a senior sadhu visiting from India, on Saturday 22 November 2014.
The evening programme began with a video presentation charting the key chronological events leading to the opening of the Mandir.
Charity and goodwill have been key values that the Mandir has promoted over the years, and this was highlighted during a cheque presentation made to Diabetes UK – the leading charity that “cares for, connects with and campaigns on behalf of every person affected by or at risk of diabetes.” The £20,000 donated had been raised during the BAPS Charities Annual 10K Challenge earlier this year by almost 4,000 participants from around the country.
Richard Lane, Chairman of Diabetes UK, arrived to receive the cheque. Following the presentation, Mr Lane addressed the assembly and said, “The money that you [BAPS Charities] have raised is absolutely fantastic. Thank you very much indeed.”
He also emphasised the importance of raising awareness in the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and announced that in recognition of the support from BAPS Charities, Diabetes UK will help to train ‘Community Champions’ as well as provide dietician support for screening clinics organised by BAPS Charities in London, Leicester and Birmingham.
Satyavrat Swami, Head Sadhu of the Mandir, then guided the assembly through the collective contributions to the celebrations, with the aim of strengthening one’s personal spirituality as well as consolidating family unity.
In his keynote address, Tyagvallabh Swami encouraged everyone to actively participate in the festivities over the coming months. He drew specifically upon how one can reflect the purity of a mandir in one’s own life.
The evening was concluded with a video presentation of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s blessings for the Mandir.