In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring an international day of observance to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism. Since then, 5 December has been adopted as International Volunteer Day. It is an opportunity for volunteers and volunteer organisations to raise awareness of and gain understanding for the contribution they make to their communities.

Observance by BAPS in London

This year, the event was observed by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London. It was held on Saturday 30 November to coincide with the presence of senior sadhu Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami, international convenor of BAPS’s volunteer activities.

The special evening assembly focussed on paying tribute to the daily, silent and tireless sacrifices that volunteers of BAPS make to better the world around us.

It began with Jitu Patel, Chairman of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the UK, formally greeting Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami on behalf of all those present.

After a formal vote of thanks by Harshad Patel, a trustee of BAPS in the UK, Harish Trivedi and Satyavrat Swami shared inspiring examples of dedicated volunteers serving not only selflessly but joyously, often despite personal hardship.

A visual collage of these selfless acts of volunteerism was then presented on the screens.

This was followed by the key address of Ishwarcharandas Swami, who provided profound insights on the Hindu concept of seva, the selfless service of others. He drew upon teachings on seva as codified in ancient Hindu scriptures, preached and practiced by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, and lived out by successive gurus. He especially cited Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj, recounting several touching and memorable incidents from their lives and whose example and inspiration are the driving force for the thousands of BAPS volunteers around the world.

The evening concluded with a video montage of blessings to volunteers from His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

In thus observing the United Nations’ International Volunteer Day, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha reaffirms its support of a shared vision of our world working together for the common good, and its commitment to actualising the spiritual message of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj: “In the joy of others, lies our own.”

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