BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London (popularly recognised as the ‘Neasden Temple’) has provided worshippers, visitors and local residents an important sense of spirituality, community, peace and inspiration since its opening in August 1995. This spirit of reverence and service to society was celebrated on Saturday 31 August 2013 with the ‘patotsav’ ceremony marking the anniversary of the Mandir’s opening and the day its murtis were first infused with the divine presence of the deities.
The day began with the ritual bathing of the murtis, which was conducted by senior sadhus visiting from India and America as well as by the resident sadhus of London. A variety of sweet and savoury dishes were also artistically arranged before the deities in the main shrines as an offering of thanksgiving. This was followed by the mahapuja, praising God and asking for peace, forgiveness and well-being.
The evening programme began with the singing of devotional bhajans extolling the glory of a mandir as God’s home. Speeches by Gnanpriya Swami (Head Sadhu of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Kolkata, India) and Satyavrat Swami (London) elucidated upon of the need of a mandir in society and the positive impact the Mandir has had in the lives of individuals and families as well as on the broader community over the 18 years.
A short video reliving the opening ceremony in the presence of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj was then shown, bringing back treasured memories from 1995.
The evening also saw a special cheque presentation to KIDS Charity, for funds raised during the BAPS Charities Annual Challenge in April 2013.
The programme culminated with the keynote address of Ghanshyamcharan Swami (Head sadhu of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Surat, India). He included several inspiring incidents from the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, laying particular emphasis on the spirit of devotion that the Mandir has been able to foster.