The iconic Blackpool Tower in north-west England was illuminated on Monday 8 August 2022 to mark the centennial birth anniversary of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj – the first time in the Tower’s 128-year history that a spiritual leader was honoured.
Following a short ceremonial gathering, the Tower was majestically lit in the BAPS colours of red and white.
The ceremony took place in the presence of numerous distinguished guests, including Cllr Kathryn Benson, Mayor of Blackpool, Cllr Neil Darby, Mayor of Preston, and Martin Ainscough, High Sheriff of Lancashire. This historic event was organised by BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Preston and Fylde Coast Hindu Society.
Following prayers at the top of the Tower for peace and harmony, a short horse-drawn carriage procession along the promenade and a ceremonial gathering, the grand lighting of the Tower commenced with devotional dancing and celebration. It was attended by swamis from Neasden Temple in London, members of the local community as well as hundreds of visitors and well-wishers from across the region who paid tribute to the inspiring life, work and wisdom of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
This celebration forms part of the global tributes from millions across the world throughout 2022 and follows days after the conclusion of the ‘Festival of Inspiration’ – a ten-day multi-feature cultural event at Neasden Temple attended by more than 75,000 people.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj visited Blackpool on two occasions – in 1974 and then again in 1977, when he was joined by the current spiritual head of BAPS, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. Both gurus have provided inspiration to individuals and members of the community in the region by gifting temples to serve communities, preserve culture and promote harmony.
Cllr Kathryn Benson, Mayor of Blackpool, stated that the evening had truly been “moving, inspirational and colourful”. Cllr Neil Darby, Mayor of Preston, added, “It was an honour to attend the centenary celebrations of the birth of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, a great holy man whose influence in life is still felt in the community today in Preston, Blackpool, the North West and beyond.”
Neetal Parekh, a BAPS volunteer from Preston, shared, “It was a wonderfully joyous and devotional occasion with real community spirit. The lighting of this iconic British tower perfectly reflects the towering spiritual personality of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and his enlightening impact on the people of not just this region but around the world.”