In August 1995, Pramukh Swami Maharaj inaugurated the first traditional Hindu mandir in all of Europe. The 6-day Mandir Mahotsav, or Inauguration Celebration, included a Vishwashanti Maha Yagna, or prayer for world peace, and a Nagar Yatra, or cultural procession. During the yagna, a sacred fire ritual, devotees prayed for world peace. The Nagar Yatra is a procession of the murtis throughout the city. The procession started from Trafalgar Square and traveled all the way to Piccadilly Circus. Thousands of Britons witnessed this cultural marvel proceed through the streets of London, creating a festive atmosphere in the heart of the United Kingdom. Children dressed in colorful costumes performed folk dances, while adults sang bhajans, or devotional songs, in front of floats carrying the murtis.
This mandir was hand-carved in India by 1,526 skilled craftsmen and consists of 5,000 tons of Italian cararra marble and Bulgarian limestone. Built according to the Shilpa Shastras, the mandir has revived ancient Indian architecture. In 1997, the Guinness World Records recognized this mandir as the largest traditionally built Hindu mandir outside of India. For more details about this mandir, visit Londonmandir.BAPS.org.