BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London has fostered a profound sense of community spirit since its inauguration in August 1995.
As part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, more than 150 local residents were hosted at the Mandir on Thursday 21 May 2015. Invitees included representatives from the three local schools, businesses (including IKEA, Tesco and Europcar), staff at the nearby health centre, clergy from the local churches, and the neighbourhood police.
Guests were welcomed and personally looked after by a team of dedicated volunteers. Upon arrival, each had their photograph taken with the Mandir backdrop which was later gifted to them as a memento of their visit.
The visitors enjoyed a special guided tour which included an exhibition explaining the multifarious activities organised by the Mandir. After a video about the Mandir’s making and its current role as a hub of community services, everyone was again thanked by the Board of Trustees for their years of support and friendship, stretching back over 33 years in some cases.
Girish Patel, one of the volunteers at the Mandir, explained, “The Mandir opened in 1995 as Europe’s first traditional Hindu temple. Since then, it has become a valued part of Britain’s religious landscape and earned international acclaim for its architectural beauty. In all these years though, even while we’ve had royalty, heads of state and various celebrities visit, we have never lost sight of one of our most important supporters – our neighbours.”
A sumptuous vegetarian meal followed where neighbours shared more of their personal experiences of living near the ‘Neasden Temple’. They departed with a greater understanding of the Mandir’s local, national and international contributions and a deeper sense of pride and appreciation for this iconic building in their neighbourhood.
One of the residents later shared: “Thank you for a wonderful evening. You made us all feel very special and part of your community. Everyone we met could not do enough for us and appeared happy that we were with you all. The Mandir is an amazing place, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.”