Since its inauguration by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in August 1995, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London has welcomed various faith communities to the Mandir. Through positive engagement and collaboration, the Mandir has established prosperous relationships with various religions in the local community.
This year – the 20th anniversary of the Mandir – volunteers from the Mandir partnered with Wembley United Synagogue to collect food for Sufra, a community food bank and kitchen based nearby in the London Borough of Brent. Sufra aims to support disadvantaged families suffering from food poverty in the local area by “providing a life-line for families who simply don’t have enough food to eat.”
The project was part of the Mandir’s support of National Interfaith Week, an annual event that takes place across the UK in November with the aim of increasing awareness about the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society. It also followed closely after Diwali, a time for Hindus when charity is especially celebrated.
The collection was also an important activity of Mitzvah Day, when the Jewish community “builds local communities by bringing together over 37,000 people each year, to take part in collective, hands-on social action projects which make a real difference to local issues.”
Family and friends from both communities donated generously, collecting 100 packs of Indian sweets and savouries as well as various canned items of food. Members from both organisations visited Sufra to personally offer the food.
Mohammed Mamdani, Director of Sufra, thanked the party for their collective effort. “Thank you for your kind visit and food donations last night. It was a pleasure to meet many of you for the first time, and I’m sure that we will continue to work together and support our communities. I was very touched by your warm words of support, and your generosity.”
Nitin Palan, an interfaith volunteer for BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the UK, shared his thoughts of the event. “It is very rewarding to help those in need by working with members of other faiths who share our common desire of goodwill. This year being the 20th anniversary of our Mandir is an even greater reason to demonstrate the strong values that we hold with other faiths and which are close to the heart of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.”