From its inauguration by 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. This spirit of reverence and service to society was celebrated on Saturday 16 August 2014 and again in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Kothari Swami (Bhaktipriya Swami), a senior sadhu visiting from India, on Wednesday 20 August 2014.
The evening programme on Saturday, themed ‘Swamishri in London’, began with a video montage rekindling fond memories of the opening in 1995 as well as Swamishri’s visits to the Mandir thereafter.
Sadhus spoke about the spirit of service which the Mandir has fostered and shared inspiring incidents with Pramukh Swami Maharaj in London from previous years, encouraging devotees to strengthen their deep spiritual relationship with him.
Satyavrat Swami concluded by elucidating upon the invaluable role of mandirs in society and highlighting specific personal observances that a mandir fosters which help one progress on the spiritual path.
The ‘patotsav’ ceremony marking the anniversary of the Mandir’s opening and the calendric day that its murtis were first infused with the divine presence of God was marked with further devotion on Wednesday 20 August 2014.
The festivities included a mahapuja praising God and seeking his blessings, and the ritual bathing of Thakorji by devotees and visitors. 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 evening assembly, in the presence of Kothari Swami.
The evening programme began with the traditional welcoming of Kothari Swami and other visiting sadhus. After devotional singing, a discourse by Gnanpurush Swami highlighted the positive impact the Mandir has had on the lives of individuals and families over the previous 19 years.
The programme culminated with the keynote address of Kothari Swami. He placed particular emphasis on the spirit of devotion that the Mandir has inspired, and shared several inspiring incidents from the devotional life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.