The culmination of activities for the consolidation of Satsang across Europe was celebrated on Saturday 20th August 2005 as, exactly 10 years ago, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj performed the inauguration of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London. The historic occasion began with sadhus performing the abhishek of the murtis in the central shrines with panchamrut (a mixture of water, milk, yoghurt, honey, sugar and ghee) and water, with devotees bathing the smaller metal images of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. In honour of the occasion and for world peace, a mahapuja was performed shortly afterwards inside the Haveli. A beautiful Annakut was offered to the deities from midday as devotees flocked for darshan.
A grand assembly hall set the scene for the evening’s festival, decorated with majestic lights and a large banner welcoming thousands of devotees and guests for the programme. The theme of the event focussed around the values of a Mandir, with each letter of the word
‘Mandir’, representing an individual item presented by sadhus, youths, teenagers and children.
Monument of Magnificence depicted the beautiful visuals of the Mandir exhibiting the intricate architecture and carvings, accompanied by traditional music.
Achievements of the past ten years included prestigious awards with scores of dignitaries visiting the Mandir expressing their awe. The thousands of school visits along with the exceptional media coverage were examples that were reminisced during the evening, glorifying the first traditional Hindu Mandir outside India.
Nurturing young and old alike with moral, cultural and spiritual inspiration, the Mandir has become a centre of social development and progress, providing a beacon of light for upcoming generations. Individuals who had experienced such uplifting transformations narrated their experiences.
Dedication and devotion have been the foundation of this Mandir; thus the spirit of volunteerism was highlighted through memories of festivals and service undertaken by the spectrum of departments that offer their selfless time to maintain the magnificence of this Mandir.
Inspiration for this record-breaking creation of Marble has been provided over the decades by the creative vision and expert guidance of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His interaction with devotees and a montage of his divine blessings and memories provided the assembly with recollections of Swamishri’s enormous sacrifice and generosity. Swamishri’s personal blessings for the evening were heard shortly afterwards becoming the highlight of a wonderful evening.
Reflections of the inauguration of the Mandir were relived by Atmaswarup Swami who heightened the emotions of the evening by encouraging everyone to place God inside their hearts and become a living mandir. A colourful dance provided the conclusion of the magnificent celebrations, with the anticipation of the grand opening of the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex in New Delhi.
On Sunday 21 August in the evening assembly, the dedicated volunteers who have sincerely sacrificed their time over the last ten years to selflessly serve in various departments in the Mandir and in centres around the country were felicitated.