BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London joined more than 800 sites to celebrate Open House London – the capital’s principal architectural festival – on the weekend of 20-21 September 2014.
Open House London is part of a growing global concept “showcasing outstanding architecture for all to experience, completely for free. Open House initiatives invite everyone to explore and understand the value of a well-designed built environment.”
The annual event began in London in 1992, providing an opportunity to “get out and get under the skin of the amazing architecture in every London neighbourhood.” Open House, a small, not-for-profit organisation, falls under the umbrella of Open-City, London’s leading architecture education organisation.
The Mandir was amongst a number of well-known buildings to be featured in Brent, including the Capital City Academy, Cottrell House, Wembley WC Pavilion, Roe Green Village, and the Underground Bunker in Neasden. The Mandir also joined other local places of worship such as Christ Church in Brondesbury and Ruach City Church in Kilburn.
Tourists, members of the local community as well as visitors from various walks of life streamed through the doors of the Mandir throughout the weekend to appreciate the history behind the Mandir’s construction as well as the significance of its religious architecture. Guests also enjoyed a tour of the ‘Understanding Hinduism’ exhibition during their visit.
“Revealing”, the theme of this year’s Open House, intended to “shed light on issues that are relevant to local communities.” Volunteers of the Mandir were therefore able to provide a deeper insight on the various activities that the Mandir regularly organises to engage with and support the local community.
Jasmin Shah, a volunteer at the Mandir, shared: “Open House is a great opportunity for the Mandir to provide a more focussed and customised experience for the variety of people that arrive to learn about the architectural significance, community activities and its spirituality. We are always pleased to welcome worshippers, visitors and guests throughout the year – and entry is always free – but the Open House event enables us to spend more time with people interested in its architectural beauty and religious meaning.”
Many visitors also shared experiences of their visit in writing. Below are a few of those impressions:
Superb building lovingly maintained. Moving experience to witness the worship. Interesting exhibition which enlarged my understanding of Hinduism. Thank You. – Ann (Retired Teacher)
A wonderful temple built with great devotion. Very helpful guides & volunteers. –Catherine (IT Manager)
We are very grateful that you open this space to the general public and are so welcoming. It’s been a pleasure to see inside this special building. – Tanya (TV Producer)
Beautiful place, excellent tour and very friendly guides. Thank you. – Aine (Business Analyst)
Really enjoyed the visit. Very nice and friendly people. And the building is a real true wonder. – Carla (Administrator)
Really interesting. Beautiful to look at and lovely serene experience. Very well organised and everyone so helpful and friendly. “Oasis on the North Circular!” – Paul (Model Maker)
It’s exquisitely beautiful and peaceful. The introduction to Hinduism is so well presented. Nice way to teach children as well as people of other faiths all about Hinduism. – Shankari (Accountant)
Really beautiful and peaceful place. Tolerant of kids (I had my 2½ year old with me). Lovely space. Very beautiful. – Sonya (Accounts Manager)
I was very impressed by the beautiful carvings and the dedication that went into constructing this amazing building. Thank you for sharing it. – Kaye (Teacher)
Very interesting & a lot more to see than I expected. – Anders (Campaigns Manager)
I find it a very enriching and exciting experience having never been in a Hindu temple before. It was truly interesting. Thank you! – Katrina (Media Monitor)
Very beautiful and spiritual place. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and will definitely be back. I personally found a new sense of calm and spirituality. – Loraine
A beautiful place built on beautiful principles. – Elizabeth (Writer/Editor)