Local leaders from six faiths gathered at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Tuesday 19 November to share readings on the theme of ‘Service to Humanity’.


The event was part of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s observance of National Inter Faith Week in the UK, which this year ran from 17 to 23 November.


The aim of the Week is to strengthen good interfaith relations at all levels, and to increase awareness of and understanding between people ofdifferent faith communities in the UK.


The meeting began with warm greetings among the faith leaders and a chance to converse over light refreshments.


As everyone convened in the meeting room, Nitin Palan (Interfaith Coordinator for BAPS) and Father Andrew Hammond (vicar of the nearby St Mary’s Church in Willesden) accorded everyone a warm welcome and introduced the event.


Each faith leader was then called upon to share readings and reflections from their respective sacred texts and traditions on the theme of serving humanity. After each five-minute reading, a minute was spent in silent prayer and contemplation.


The respected presenters were, in order:

  • Rabbi Yehuda Black – Kenton Synagogue
  • Venerable BogodaSeelawimala – Head Priest of the London Buddhist Vihara and the current Chief SanghaNayaka of Great Britain
  • Imam Abdullah Salloo – Islamic Cultural Centre, Wembley
  • Dr Harshad Sanghrajka – Institute of Jainology
  • Father Andrew Hammond – Church of England, Willesden
  • Satyavratdas Swami – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden

Others present at the meeting included:

  • Father Andrew Teather – Church of England, Willesden
  • Father Michael Moorhead – Church of England, Harlesden
  • Reverend Dr R L Leao-Neto – Methodist Church, Brent
  • Paramtattvadas Swami – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden
  • Kirit Wadia – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden
  • Rakesh Shah – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden

After the meeting, the guests took time to appreciate a series of banners expressing Hindu wisdom related to interfaith harmony and highlighting the work of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in reaching out in dialogue to world religious leaders and also welcoming them to the Mandir.


Appreciating the “excellent gathering”, Father Hammond noted that “the hospitality and organisation [of the evening] was exemplary”.


Kirit Wadia, interfaith volunteer at the Mandir, added: “It was a pleasure to bring so many local faith leaders together to share thoughts on such an important topic. What was especially striking was how much we share in common and how much we can still learn from each other. As we all agreed, we hope this is the beginning of much greater interaction and cooperation among our various communities.”

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