On 25 November 2006 the High Commissioner of U.K., Right Honourable Paul Boateng, and his wife, visited the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Durban.
The honoured guests were welcomed in traditional Hindu manner with the chanting of Vedic verses, tying of the sacred nadachhadi and the marking of the auspicious kumkum chandlo on their forehead. This was followed by a presentation of flower bouquets and other gifts.
An Akshar Deri badge was pinned on Right Honourable Paul Boateng’s jacket, as sign of welcoming him as an old acquaintance of BAPS Sanstha.
The atmosphere was charged with spirituality and divinity when the arti was performed by our honoured guests and devotees. Thereafter, the guests enjoyed a short video of “Swaminarayan Akshardham” in New Delhi. The viewing of Akshardham inspired and motivated the guests that they pledged to visit this exquisite monument in the near future.
The Right Honourable Paul Boateng then addressed the gathering. In his speech he praised the work of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
The Right Honourable Paul Boateng and his wife departed from the Mandir, charged with the spirit of love and devotion, God and spirituality. The visit lasted from 3.20 to 4.45 pm.
Transcript of the High Commissioner of U.K., Right Honourable Paul Boateng
“Greetings! It’s great to be here at the temple in Durban and to greet you as British High Commissioner, yes, the representative of Britain in South Africa, but also to greet you as someone whose life has been affected by the privilege of meeting and sharing with Pramukh Swami Maharaj. So many of us who have met Swamiji, are left with the overwhelming impression of goodness, of knowledge and of deep spirituality.
This is a man of our time, who draws on values which are timeless. The values of love, of sharing, of peace and of community. These values are timeless, they know, no territorial boundaries, they are to be found wherever good people come together in our world.
Swamiji’s great gift is the way in which he binds us all together!
I met him first in 1988, in the Houses of Parliament in Great Britain. He touched my life then, just as I know, he has touched yours!
To be here in Durban, in this temple, is for me very much to be at home. To feel the link, that binds us all, whether we are in Delhi, in Durban, in Johannesburg, in London, in Leicester, wherever we are in the world.
Neasden and the temple in Neasden for me and for my wife are very important, because our home too is in Brent. Our home is within walking distance of the temple in Neasden.
I know the contribution that Neasden, it’s adherents, the worshipers, those who teach there, I know the contribution they make to the spiritual life of my country. I know the contribution that this place, this temple, the teachers here and you all make to the spiritual life of South Africa.
Together, people of the spirit, people who adhere and seek to it here, to those timeless values of love, peace and community. Together we can, with those values, with one another, with the love and spirit that Swamiji shares, that makes him one of the great spiritual leaders of our world. Together we can change that world and make it a better place.
I greet you in the name of Her Majesty’s Government and I look forward very soon to the arrival of Swamiji, here in South Africa, when with you, I can join with you in greeting him and hailing him for what he is - a Great Teacher, Good Man!