Yuvaks and yuvatis of London welcomed more than 250 friends and colleagues for a memorable open evening at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on Thursday 9 June 2016.
A warm traditional welcome set the tone for the evening as guests were collected by a special shuttle service from Neasden Station and greeted by volunteers. As they entered the Mandir complex, a special photograph was taken with their host to provide a memento of their visit.
Visitors were welcomed with the traditional tying of the nada-chhadi – a gesture of friendship – and then ushered to a reception of Indian snacks and refreshments.
Yuvaks and yuvatis accompanied their associates and friends on a guided tour around the Mandir and ‘Understanding Hinduism’ exhibition, and were given the opportunity to take part in the ritual bathing of Shri Nilkanth Varni.
The guests continued their journey to the prayer hall and engaged with interactive stalls illustrating the various activities undertaken at the Mandir. The stalls covered Hindu festivals, the art of creativity, bhakti, charitable activities, the art and architecture of mandirs, health and vitality, and traditional Indian music.
The evening continued with a vote of thanks by Satyavrat Swami, followed by a short talk by Tyagprakash Swami, who addressed the assembly about the key to a happy and meaningful life. The gathering also joined in a chanting of the Vedic shanti path, praying for peace, prosperity and harmony to prevail in the world.
The evening was brought to a close with a traditional vegetarian meal where guests reflected upon their experiences.
Before leaving, every visitor was presented with a gift bag, which included a copy of Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji, the final book of the former President of India, the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
The event proved a great success for everyone involved. The guests especially appreciated the opportunity to learn about the beliefs, values and practices of their close friends and colleagues.
A selection of the guests’ experiences captured in the visitor book include the following:
“What an incredible place! Blown away by the people and the architecture and the warmth. Thank you!” – Deborah
“Thank you for a lovely evening! I’ve learnt so much and would love to come back again!” – Pam
“An inspiring and wonderful place!” – Hilary