The opening of the new BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Coventry, UK, was celebrated over the weekend of 22-23 June 2019 in the presence of esteemed swamis from India and the UK.
The Mandir marks the steady growth of Satsang activities in Coventry since they first began in the 1970s when religious assemblies and festivals were conducted at various houses and hired halls with a handful of devotees. His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj provided vital impetus to Satsang growth when he first visited Coventry in 1974 and a further eight times until 2000.
The current site on Heath Road opened as a mandir in 2006. After it became too small to meet the needs of the congregation, the adjacent building was purchased and plans began to extend and refurbish the existing property. After over a year of tireless efforts by local volunteers, the new mandir was ready for inauguration.
The two-day Mandir Mahotsav began with a special mahapuja at the Mercia Hall where devotees and well-wishers offered their prayers for peace, harmony and well-being to prevail throughout the local community. This was followed with a vibrant kirtan bhakti programme where sadhus and youths sang bhajans to the accompaniment of an array of musical instruments. It served as the 22nd in a series of 100 musical tributes being performed around the UK and in Europe to commemorate the centennial birth anniversary of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Earlier this year, in Sarangpur, India, Mahant Swami Maharaj had infused the murtis that would grace the new mandir with the presence of the Divine. On the morning of Sunday 23 June, the sanctified murtis were ceremonially consecrated in their respective shrines by Yogvivek Swami amid Vedic chanting and rituals conducted by Shrutiprakash Swami, visiting from India.
The morning festivities on Sunday included a dedication assembly in the presence of distinguished guests, civic leaders, various community representatives, and hundreds of local devotees and well-wishers from around the country.
Amongst the guests was Chenine Bhatena, Creative Director for Coventry 2012, UK City of Culture. She shared, “I really enjoyed coming to the new mandir today. It’s fantastic to see the work that so many people have put in to create such a beautiful space, a place where the whole community can come together and continue to educate themselves on their faith, but also a place that’s inclusive that other people can visit and that’s going to have so many great events in the coming years. Everyone is so welcoming, so lovely. It’s such a peaceful religion.’’
Also present was Deputy Leader of Coventry City Council, Mr Abdul Salam Khan. Cllr Khan praised the work of BAPS in Coventry in developing stronger interfaith relations and helping children, youth and families to become better contributors to the local community.
Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Ann Lucas added, “This new temple means so much to the people who use it. The fact that everyone has contributed is evident from the feeling of love and joy. I’m honoured and privileged you let me share the day. I’ve understood about the work involved and also that this place lives and breathes every day, not just on event days.”
The new Mandir will continue to serve as a place of worship for the enthusiastic local fellowship, and as the hub of spiritual, community and charity services for BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in Coventry and the wider West Midlands area.
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