International Volunteer Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/212 on 17 December 1985. Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organisations have successfully joined volunteers around the world to celebrate the Day on 5 December.

The celebrations in 2015 aimed to “not only celebrate volunteerism in all its facets, but also pay special tribute to volunteers” working in various ways to help make our world a better place.

This spirit of volunteerism inspired by the teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the Gurus is at the very core of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s activities around the world, including in the UK, where mandirs and centres have fostered year-round spiritual and community outreach programmes.

While celebrating the ethos of volunteering, hundreds of volunteers who contribute selflessly to these efforts were appreciated in special evening assemblies at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 5 December 2015.

Volunteers shared personal experiences, drawing especially from projects and initiatives of 2015, including the celebrations marking the Mandir’s 20th anniversary and the recent Diwali and Hindu New Year festivals. Sadhus narrated inspiring accounts of volunteers who serve in many different capacities, sometimes in difficult circumstances.

The International Volunteer Day observances in London coincided with the month-long celebrations marking Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s 95th birthday. The various presentations thus fittingly explored his lifetime ideal of selfless service to society.

Shamita Patel, a leading coordinator of volunteering activities for BAPS in the UK, said: “Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s inspiration of serving and helping others is at the heart of everything we do. We’re delighted to have so many opportunities to serve the wider community throughout the year and it is heart-warming to see men, women and children of all ages keen to contribute and grow personally and spiritually.”

To learn more about the UN’s International Volunteer Day, please click here.

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