More than 1,300 people visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, on the weekend of 21-22 September 2019 as part of the Mandir’s participation in this year’s ‘Open House London’ – an annual architectural festival celebrating London’s buildings and design.
The Open House programme began in 1992 to offer free access to London’s best buildings and inspire the public about the benefits of great design. Each year, more than a quarter of a million people take part in the Open House weekend, visiting over 800 buildings, walks, talks and tours across London. Open House is organised by Open-City, with more than 35 cities across the world now embracing its concept.
The visitor experience included a personalised welcome by young and senior volunteers who explained the history and religious significance of the Mandir and its distinguishing features. A further in-depth tour was also provided which included a tour of the exhibition, the Abhishek Mandap and an exhibition of ten elaborate silk scrolls designed and crafted by female members of BAPS which depict the achievements and values of powerful women in the community.
There were plenty of opportunities to join worshippers for one of the arti ceremonies during the day and hear about the year-long festivities leading to the Mandir’s 25th anniversary in 2020, as well as the centennial birth celebrations of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the creator of the Mandir.
Visitors from various walks of life arrived to experience the Mandir’s religious architecture, peace and spirituality. Many shared their impressions of their visit. A selection of their experiences are provided below:
“Overawed. Especially impressed by the exhibition and arti ceremony.” – Cllr Sam Crooks, Mayor of Milton Keynes
“As a Greek Orthodox, I learnt about so much that is in parallel with my community and also about divinity.” – CB, Writer
“An informative opening to an impressive building and more importantly, culture. Thank you for opening the doors.” – LH, Office Professional
“Breathtaking Temple! Very informative and a humble guide. Received a friendship band for the ritual. It was lifelong experience. Thank you very much for the unforgettable journey.” – TB, Engineer
“The exhibition is a wonderful portrayal of Hindu culture and values.” – KG, Teacher
“A beautiful and ornate temple – I would love to visit again. The mandir is very peaceful.” – S, Student
“An incredible building and an extremely welcoming and warm environment. It is great to have had a guided tour to give us some interesting facts about the temple and its people. Thank you!” – CH, Training Manager
“The Temple is extraordinary, beautiful and majestic. It is incredible to see how it was carved and constructed and is a wonderful monument to your faith.” – AG, Doctor