The fourteenth anniversary of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London – Europe’s first traditional Hindu Mandir – was celebrated with great devotion and festivities on Sunday 16 August 2009. Traditionally known as the patotsava, this year’s ceremony was held in the presence of sadguru Pujya Doctor Swami.
The occasion began with the Mangala Arti at 6.00am, followed by the arti of Shri Nilkanth Varni and the Shangar Arti at 7.30am. Doctor Swami and the sadhus then performed the ritual bathing (abhishek) of the murtis in the central shrines with panchamrut (a holy mixture of milk, yoghurt, honey, sugar and ghee) and water. Devotees were also privileged with the abhishek of the smaller murtis of Harikrishna Maharaj. Doctor Swami then addressed the gathering in a special assembly until noon.
Memories of the Mandir Mahotsav of 1995 were revived with a video presentation in the Haveli assembly hall in the afternoon. During that time, devotees and guests also took the opportunity to perform the abhishek of Shri Nilkanth Varni.
A grand mahapuja began at 4.30pm where hundreds of devotees prayed for peace and well-being and the good health of Guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The sumptuous stage decorations and intricate floral designs in the central aisle created a joyous and festive atmosphere throughout the assembly hall.
The concluding evening assembly focused on extolling the devotional and spiritual significance of a mandir. Yogvivek Swami, the head sadhu of the Mandir, also retraced the over fifty-year journey of the BAPS fellowship in London – from the first casual gatherings at various satsangis’ homes in the early 1950s, to the first mandir in Islington converted from a disused church (inaugurated in 1970 by Yogiji Maharaj), to the larger mandir in Neasden on Meadow Garth, this time converted from a disused warehouse (inaugurated in 1982 by Pramukh Swami Maharaj), and finally to the traditional purpose-built stone mandir on Brentfield Road (inaugurated in 1995 by Pramukh Swami Maharaj).
Pujya Doctor Swami then addressed the assembly inspiring the devotees to bring the sanctity and piety of the Mandir into the home by strengthening family values and unity, as well as one’s own personal life.
The finale of the grand celebrations culminated with the arti ceremony, as thousands remembered Pramukh Swami Maharaj performing the first arti of the Mandir fourteen years ago.