His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj inaugurated BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London – popularly known as the ‘Neasden Temple’ – on 20 August 1995. Over the past 24 years, the internationally acclaimed Mandir – the first of its kind outside of India – has served the local community and inspired millions from across the world as a place of worship, learning, celebration, peace, and community service.
To celebrate the Mandir’s 25th anniversary in August 2020, a series of inspiring projects were launched on Saturday 31 August 2019 in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Swayamprakash Swami (Doctor Swami), Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami, and other senior swamis of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha from India and the UK.
The projects will comprise a year-long programme of inspirational initiatives to commemorate the 25-year milestone. They include ways in which individuals can grow in their personal spirituality and moral integrity, families can develop stronger bonds of respect, love and harmony, and the Mandir can serve the wider community with on-going educational, health and other charitable drives.
The special evening began auspiciously with swamis and devotees lighting traditional divas (oil lamps) under the central dome in the inner sanctum as well as in the assembly hall. As each project was introduced, volunteers and swamis placed a kalash (ceremonial urn) and devotional offerings on decorative pillars, signifying the support the Mandir has provided to individuals, families and the community at large.
A series of discourses, video presentations and panel discussions illustrated the vision and construction of the Mandir and depicted many stories of selfless sacrifice and unsung commitment from dedicated individuals. Guest speakers also narrated the profound impact of the Mandir’s activities in their lives and in that of other individuals and families.
Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami recollected Yogiji Maharaj’s vision from his visit to London in 1970 while Pujya Doctor Swami spoke of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s tireless dedication to fulfil that vision and build a traditional mandir in London. Video blessings from Mahant Swami Maharaj brought the celebrations to a fitting conclusion, in which he urged everyone to heartily join in the celebrations and together build a better, stronger community by becoming better individuals first.
Earlier, in the morning, the 24th anniversary of the Mandir was celebrated with the traditional ‘patotsav’, a Vedic ceremony marking the anniversary of the Mandir’s opening. The ceremony included a panchamrut abhishek (ritual bathing) of the murtis and an annakut (offering of food). Devotees and swamis prayed for peace, progress and righteous prosperity to prevail in the UK and around the world.