Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Luton on Sunday 15 February 2015, joining the BAPS Women’s Forum of Luton for a cultural celebration entitled ‘Mandir: A Home of Culture, Values and Inspiration’.
The Lord-Lieutenant, as an official representative of The Queen, was warmly welcomed by young girls singing traditional Vedic prayers and the tying of a sacred thread symbolising friendship and auspiciousness.
The celebration began with the traditional lighting of lamps, after which the Lord-Lieutenant and guests were garlanded by leaders of the BAPS Women’s Forum in Luton.
The gathering of over 100 women witnessed a vibrant cultural dance performed by the youth members of the Women’s Forum demonstrating the Mandir's role in preserving culture. This was followed by a multimedia presentation highlighting the value the Mandir has brought to the lives of individuals and the wider community.
Youth members recited Sanskrit verses describing the morals nurtured at the Mandir followed by a variety of presentations by members of all ages who came together to share how the Mandir has personally influenced their lives for the better. A heartfelt speech then paid tribute to His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the inspirer of the Mandir and its activities.
The Lord-Lieutenant officially launched this year’s BAPS Charities Annual 10k Challenge, supporting the British Heart Foundation and Rosa, the UK fund for girls and women. In her keynote address the Lord-Lieutenant expressed her delight with the Mandir’s activities, commenting, “I have learnt so much about this wonderful mandir and I am just in awe with all of you. It is so important what you do here and I congratulate you.”
Before departing, the Lord-Lieutenant further shared: “Your culture is so rich and the Mandir nurtures this which is so important. Your Guru – what a wonderful person! It is no wonder that so many many people find him a true inspiration.”