The Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper visited the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto on August 17, 2015 with his wife, Mrs. Laureen Harper, on the occasion of India's Independence Day Celebrations.
The Prime Minister and Mrs. Harper were welcomed at the foot of the Mandir by the Board of Directors of BAPS - Canada and by the children of BAPS.
This is the third visit of the Prime Minister to the Mandir. When he last visited during the inauguration ceremony of the Mandir in 2007, in the presence of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, he expressed a wish to return again in the future with his family, which he did so on this special occasion. Inside the Mandir, the Prime Minister and Mrs. Harper offered their respects to the sacred images by offering flowers. Sadguru Pujya Doctor Swami (Pujya Swayamprakashdas Swami) traditionally welcomed the Prime Minister with a garland and presented him with the book ‘Transcendence’ written by the late former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam that had been released the previous day.
On their way to the beautiful Haveli, the Prime Minister and Mrs. Harper paid a visit to the informative and educational Heritage Museum. At the assembly, they were welcomed with cheers and applause by more than 1,100 devotees, well-wishers and dignitaries.
During his speech to the gathering, the Prime Minister said, “I remember fondly inaugurating this stunning Mandir in 2007. I said then, that, this is one of the greatest pieces of architecture in our entire country! So I am truly delighted to be back.”
In his tribute to late former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the Prime Minister also acknowledged, “I was privileged to meet Dr. Kalam on his visit to Canada in 2008. In honouring his memory today, you are honouring one of the renowned figures of modern India, a brilliant and accomplished scientist, yet also a man of great simplicity.“
The Hon. Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who was also present at the Mandir the previous day to release ‘Transcendence’ in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Doctor Swami, said, “Yesterday some of us were here to help launch a book by one great Indian, the late and much-lamented former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, about his spiritual journey with another great Indian, your [inspirer], Pramukh Swamiji.”