The new ‘BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir’ in Ashton-under-Lyne opened its doors to the local community of Manchester on Sunday 17 October 2021.
The long-awaited opening marked the culmination of almost seven years of tireless endeavour by hundreds of devotees and volunteers from the local fellowship.
The new mandir was designed and constructed to minimise any negative impact on the environment. It incorporates valuable eco-friendly features such as solar panel heating, energy-saving lighting and electric charging pods in the car park.
Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami presided over the murti sthapan ceremony with the blessings of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, who had performed the murti pratishtha ceremony on 31 December 2020 in Nenpur, India. Other swamis from London also joined the ceremony along with hundreds of local devotees and guests from around the country, while many more across the world joined online through a live web stream.
A special weekend of devotion commemorated the historic opening. This included a Vedic mahapuja on Saturday in which participants prayed for peace, harmony, well-being and righteous prosperity to prevail throughout the local community and around the world.
In the afternoon on Saturday, the sacred images of Shri Nilkanth Varni Maharaj and Harikrishna Maharaj were ceremonially carried around the mandir campus as part of a devotional procession.
Amongst the guests on Sunday was Judith Copeman, lead architect for the mandir project. In congratulating the local team, she wrote: “Fantastic to see the building being used. Brilliantly organised. Thank you for inviting us and all the hard work by the BAPS team and making the project so enjoyable and memorable.”
Also part of the celebrations was Cllr Brenda Warrington, Leader of Tameside Council, who thanked everyone for being invited to the opening. “I found the experience tremendously moving, gentle but powerful!” She went on to write, “We are so pleased that the temple is housed in Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside, and welcome all from Greater Manchester and beyond.” Steven Pleasant MBE, Chief Executive of Tameside Council, echoed, “We are very proud to have such an amazing building and facility in the centre of our borough.”
Rajesh Desai, the Mandir’s lead volunteer, explained, “BAPS has had a presence in and around Manchester for almost 50 years now. We began holding assemblies and festivals in devotees’ homes and hired halls. As our numbers grew and activities increased, we moved from one place to another, trying our best to cater to everyone’s needs as best as we could. With this new purpose-built mandir, we’re elated we will be able to serve the local community in more and better ways, and look forward to welcoming people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds. The local community is at the heart of everything we do and so it’s been truly humbling to witness the tremendous support from our friends across Manchester and beyond.”
Reshma Parmar, a mother of two, shared, “We’re so blessed to have this new mandir in Manchester. It’s exactly what we need to help our family grow through all activities the mandir provides – from religious, educational, healthcare, and more.”
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 Ashton-under-Lyne and Greater Manchester.