BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, joined hundreds of faith communities, interfaith bodies and various other commercial, educational, governmental and charitable organisations across the UK for a week-long programme to observe National Interfaith Week from 12 to 19 November 2017.

Interfaith Week began in 2009 to build good relationships and working partnerships between people of different faiths and beliefs. The initiative aims to strengthen interfaith relations at all levels, increase awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, and increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs. The dedicated week of activities “provides a focal point, helping to open interfaith activity to a wider audience”.

The Mandir welcomed more than 1,100 children from over 50 schools and many more other visitors during the week. Guests were warmly welcomed by volunteers who explained the history and values of Interfaith Week. The visitors were also taken on a guided tour of the Mandir and discussed aspects of their respective faiths amongst one another.

The start of Interfaith Week coincided with Remembrance Sunday. A large poppy was placed at the front of the Mandir as a mark of respect to people of many faiths and nationalities who served the UK during the First World War.

Usha Patel, a volunteer at the Mandir, shared her impressions of the visits. She said, “Seeing so many visitors at the Mandir and explaining to them our Hindu values and beliefs was a rewarding experience. It was also wonderful to see children, youths and senior members of society discuss their own faiths. I think it was a valuable learning experience for everyone who visited the Mandir. Listen, learning and sharing is what brings us together.”

To learn more about National Interfaith Week, please click here.

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