'Together we can gain respect' was the message that stood out on the world’s largest finger painting as dedicated BAPS volunteers led a community initiative in London to bring people from various backgrounds together for a hands-on interactive activity to raise awareness for respect.

Volunteers from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London and the local community took part in the record-breaking world’s largest finger painting as part of this year’s Brent Respect Festival organized by the Brent Council. The current Guinness World Record was broken on Sunday 8 July 2007 at Roundwood Park in Harlesden with the completed painting measuring a huge 16,400 sq ft smashing the previous world record of 12,550 sq ft set in Spain last year.

Jignesh Patel, a local artist and devotee at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir based the themes on values such as respect, peace, love, unity and tolerance along with icons of Brent and London such as the Wembley Stadium and the London 2012 Olympics. He says that he was inspired by the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, whose credo in life is, “In the joy of others, lies our own”.

Over 650 people of all age groups finger painted on 10 separate pieces of canvas measuring 10 feet by 164 feet put together to create a giant canvas screen on the lawns of Roundwood Park. The painting commenced at 10.30am and was completed at 6.15pm, in just less than eight hours.

The sight of a young three-year-old toddler and the oldest participant of 86 years prompted the Mayor of Brent, Cllr. Harshadbhai Patel to finger paint and remark, “I am proud of the residents of Brent who have taken part in this project. It is so nice to see the community coming together to create this record. I would particularly like to thank the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha who have organised this painting.”

The well-known British Broadcaster, Louis Theroux also took part in the painting and commented that the painting was a fabulous artistic achievement, “very much in line with the Neasden Mandir that I have heard so much about.”

The good weather allowed hundreds of residents to enjoy the record-breaking attempt and every participant was presented with a certificate for taking part. In the closing ceremony at 7.30pm, the Deputy Mayor of Brent Cllr. Fox helped children release balloons and wished BAPS the very best in achieving a new world record.

On Sunday 29 July 2007 during the Guru Poonam festival at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London, a special assembly was held which included thanking all those who were involved in the creation of the world’s largest finger painting. The Worshipful Mayor of Brent Harshadbhai Patel was present and on behalf of all the citizens of Brent, he thanked BAPS for their efforts in initiating this venture. As well as thanking all the sponsors and supporters, Yogvivek Swami congratulated all the BAPS volunteers in bringing the local community together, at the same time helping to set a new world record.

The Guinness World Record certificate was also portrayed for all those present. The certificate read...

The largest finger painting measured
1,523 m2 (16,400 ft2) and was created
by 650 people from the local community
at an event organised by
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Sanstha
at the Brent Respect Festival
in Roundwood Park, London UK on 8 July 2007.
The painting theme, inspired by HH Pramukh
Swami Maharaj, was ‘Respect for one
another and Unity in Diversity.’

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