The 10th anniversary of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto, ON was celebrated with great fanfare in the presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.
The festivities welcomed guests from all parts of North America and from around the globe. His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj performed the unforgettable inauguration ceremonies in 2007 surrounded by the enthusiasm and excitement of hundreds of volunteers. Carrying forward his lifework and legacy, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj commemorated this historic milestone by sharing divine memories from the 2007 events and encouraging devotees to remain steadfast in their pursuits towards spirituality.
Many dignitaries joined devotees, well-wishers and community leaders in celebrating the ten-year anniversary and to mark Canada’s 150th Birthday.
Special guests at this historic occasion included:
• The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
• His Worship John Tory, the Mayor of Toronto
• His Excellency Mr. Vikas Swarup, High Commissioner of India to Canada
• Premier of Ontario, Hon. Kathleen Wynne
• Hon. Kirsty Duncan, MP, Etobicoke North, Minister of Science
• Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, MPP, Etobicoke-North
• Deepak Chopra, President &CEO, Canada Post
The Prime Minister encouraged all Canadians to visit the Mandir saying, “I hope all Canadians can find the time to come visit this magnificent site and learn more about the rich history of the Hindu community right here in Canada, at home.”
During the celebrations, His Worship John Tory, the Mayor of Toronto, presented His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, with the Key to the City of Toronto, the city’s highest honour. The key is bestowed by the Mayor to distinguished persons and honoured guests of the City of Toronto. "I am honoured to recognize his Holiness' global and Toronto-based humanitarian, charitable, and community-building efforts through BAPS Charities Canada," said Mayor Tory in a city press release. "His Holiness' great contributions have enriched Toronto, and there is no better setting to bestow this honour than the BAPS Mandir, a unique and majestic white marble temple and an architectural masterpiece that adds to the multicultural mosaic of the city." “It is an inspiration for those who pray here and who gather here, but also, I can assure you, an inspiration for all Torontonians, for all Canadians, and for people from around this continent and around the world who come to visit,” added Mayor Tory.
His Excellency Mr. Vikas Swarup, High Commissioner of India to Canada said, “Today we celebrate, not just the beauty contained in this combination of stone and marble. We also celebrate the vision which animated this project, and the devotion and dedication of thousands of worshippers and well-wishers from Canada and beyond which led to its successful completion. This temple has become the focal point for individuals, families and the local community.”
Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, MPP, Etobicoke-North also brought a message of congratulations from the Government of Ontario.
On this historic occasion, His Divine Holiness Mahant Swami said, “On Canada’s 150th anniversary, and on this Mandir’s 10th anniversary, I would like to offer a prayer. May this beautiful country, Canada, prosper in all ways. May everyone in Canada live in harmony. May the Prime Minister be a leader, who strengthens the unity of the country. May the people of Canada be happy and peaceful. May this Mandir continue to inspire everyone towards better living. May the whole world unite as one big family.”
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan in Toronto is the first of its kind in Canada, and community volunteers welcomed the ten-year anniversary celebrations in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj with the same zeal and excitement they experienced back in 2007.
Over the past ten years, the Mandir has welcomed people from all walks of life, leaving a lasting impression in their lives. Special programs, events, and festivals at the Mandir provide an opportunity for community members to explore and practice Hindu traditions and faith. The Mandir is also the site of various charitable initiatives that include health fairs, blood drives, and community walkathons for people of all ages – merging the spirit of service with volunteerism.
The BAPS Mandir in Toronto unites families in spirituality, setting the tone for the anniversary events.Highlights from the program included video footage of the inaugural ceremonies and colourful traditional dances. Devotees shared stories of reaching milestones in their spirituality, growing closer to one another, and practicing peaceful living – all inspired and guided by the role of Mandir in their lives. The celebrations concluded with an address by Prime Minister Trudeau and with blessings from Mahant Swami Maharaj who encouraged all to uphold unity, maintain faith, and further develop one’s spirituality in strengthening the Mandir as a community place of worship.
Below are some of the events that took place as part of the 10-year celebrations.
1. Cheque Presentation to the William Osler Health System Foundation:
On the occasion of the 10th Anniversary Celebration, to continue its goal of supporting the community through health initiatives, BAPS, through its humanitarian wing BAPS Charities, announced a new partnership the William Osler Health System by presenting a cheque for $25,000 to the William Osler Health System Foundation in support their health research activities. This donation is the first part of a longer term partnership. The check was accepted by the President and CEO of the Foundation, Mr. Ken Mayhew and Dr. Naveed Mohammad, VP of Medical Affairs.
2. Inauguration of a Custom Canada Post Stamp:
A special custom Canada Post stamp (CAD$ value of Permanent Domestic) was unveiled to commemorate the historic occasion of the 10th anniversary of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir and to honour the contributions of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in enriching the lives of individuals, families and the communities in Canada. The President and CEO, Canada Post, Mr. Deepak Chopra joined His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj for the unveiling of the custom Canada Post stamps. During the ten day celebrations, a total of 2 custom Canada Post stamps were unveiled. The write up for each stamp on the souvenir sheet was as follow:
o His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj inaugurated this custom postage stamp on the special occasion of the 10th anniversary of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto, Canada. The stamp honours HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the inspirer and creator of the Mandir.
o His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj inaugurated this custom postage stamp on the special occasion of the 10th anniversary of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto, honouring the Mandir's contributions in enriching the lives of individuals, families and the community across Canada as inspired by HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
3. Blood Donation Drive
In recognition of Canada 150, a blood donor drive was organized during the celebrations in partnership with the Canadian Blood Services. A total of 100 pints of blood were collected, which has the potential to save up to 300 lives in the community. Through a local partnership with Canadian Blood Services, all of the collections were donated to local blood banks to serve nearby communities.
4. Tree Planting Ceremony:
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s motto, “In the joy of others lies our own” has inspired the planting of millions of trees around the world. To preserve that legacy and to promote environmental protection and preservation, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj participated in the planting of a memorial tree at Niagara Falls, Canada.