BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha organised an inspiring evening at Neasden Temple in the presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj on Friday 19 May 2023. It brought together over 110 diverse Hindu temples, communities and associations from around the UK to celebrate the wide array of contributions from British Hindus.
More than 1,600 guests attended the event in-person, including His Excellency Vikram Doraiswami (High Commissioner of India to the UK), Lord Jitesh Gadhia, Visakha Devi Dasi (President of Bhaktivedanta Manor, Watford), Anuttama Das (Global Communications Minister at ISKCON and a member of ISCKON’s Governing Body Commission), and several other Hindu, Jain and other religious leaders and representatives. Many more watched the live stream online.
The event was organised to collectively celebrate the unifying principles of Santana Hindu Dharma (eternal teachings of Hinduism), and was inspired by Mahant Swami Maharaj’s vision, “In the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, let’s reach out and expand the circle of global harmony.” In keeping with this noble vision, the programme included insightful presentations from esteemed speakers, visual montages from over 30 dharmic organisations, devotional singing by Chinmaya Mission, ISKCON and the Telugu Association of London, a powerful video of Hindu women speaking about how their Hindu faith guides their professional, family and personal lives, as well as live cultural performances.
The contributions were themed around five defining areas: 1) Charity & Social Work; 2) Children & Youth Development; 3) Public Service; 4) Arts & Culture; and 5) Faith & Worship.
These were portrayed through pictorial highlights and addresses from distinguished members of the Hindu community, including Professor Manoj Ladwa (Chairman and Chief Executive of the India Inc. Group), Amish Tripathi (Minister of Culture & Education for the High Commission of India to the UK, Director of the Nehru Centre, London, and international best-selling author), Nilesh Solanki (Founder & Leader of the PwC Hindu Network and Assistant General Secretary at Sewa UK), Bhavya Shah (President of the National Hindu Students Forum UK), and Sadhu Paramtattvadas (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha).
In his keynote address, Lord Gadhia shared, “Looking around the Haveli, this evening’s gathering has turned into nothing short of a dharmic sammelan (religious convention). This is a welcome show of unity and inclusiveness. By bringing us all together today, and for his visionary pursuit of the mission to expand the circle of unity, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj. Thank you to BAPS for bringing us all together.”
Chief Guest HE Vikram Doraiswami added, “Today, in the presence of Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj, we are commemorating the role and services of the British Hindu community among a number of community leaders across various parts of our faith groups here in the United Kingdom – I think that in itself is a remarkable contribution that BAPS has provided.
“Let us find our inner unity – that golden thread – that connects each and every one of us. [If] we celebrate that, and get that right, we serve the larger purpose of our civilisation and all of humankind. In that lies our true essence of what we can provide the world.”
Mahamahopadhyay Bhadreshdas Swami, author of the ground-breaking and internationally acclaimed Swaminarayan-Bhashyam and Swaminarayan-Siddhanta-Sudha, and widely considered as one of the world’s leading scholars of Hindu philosophy today, had also travelled to the UK for this occasion. He spoke to the guests, reinforcing Mahant Swami Maharaj’s guidance and vision of working together as one community.
In his address, Mahant Swami Maharaj emphasised the power of selflessly working in peace and harmony. He also drew upon the life motto of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj – “In the joy of others lies our own” – as a guiding force to contribute not only to this country, but the whole world.
Deepan Lakhani, one of the volunteers involved in organising the event, also explained: “It was a privilege to host this fruitful and enriching evening. This was an event for every Hindu community to not only deepen our relationships but serve as an inauguration for regular celebrations of this kind in the future. Our humble appreciation goes to all the guests and leaders for their exceptional support. This would not have been possible without their blessings. We look forward to continue working closely with everyone.”