Guruhari Darshan, 24 May 2023, London, UK | Celebrating Community
Guruhari Ashirwad, 24 May 2023 Evening, London, UK | Celebrating Community
Celebrating Community: Faith, Service & Global Harmony
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden – popularly known as ‘Neasden Temple’ – hosted an inspiring community event on Wednesday 24 May 2023 in the presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and esteemed guests from around the UK.
The event brought together more than 1,400 guests, friends and well-wishers to appreciate their support and to introduce them to Mahant Swami Maharaj.
The programme explored the core values of personal faith, community service and global harmony through live performances, videos and presentations by eminent speakers from around the world.
Faith: The evening began with a musical rendition of Vedic peace prayers while community leaders of various faiths and backgrounds joined to light the auspicious lamp of harmony.
Thereafter, a powerful video played wherein Hindu women shared inspiring stories about how their Hindu faith guides their professional, family and personal lives. Dillon Jivan, a BAPS youth leader from Leicester, shared his own journey of transformative faith inspired by Mahant Swami Maharaj.
Service: In his address to the audience, Captain James Basnett, Director of Flying at British Airways (BA), reflected on the longstanding partnership with BAPS to support various humanitarian efforts, for example during the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, the covid pandemic, and more recently the war in Ukraine. He drew upon the correlation between Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s ethos, “In the joy of others lies our own,” and BA’s motto, “Fly to serve.”
Professor Chris Butler, Professor of Primary Care at the University of Oxford, highlighted the essential contributions of the Mandir and BAPS during covid and in serving the wider nation at a critical time.
Damien Conrad, Community Partnerships Manager at The Felix Project (a charity committed to feeding the hungry around the UK), thanked Neasden Temple for helping to feed thousands of vulnerable people in and around London.
Harmony: The event highlighted inspiring stories from around the world, including a video message from Mr Nazem Al Kudsi, a former Government official of the UAE and current Sovereign Wealth Consultant, who shared his experiences about the upcoming BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi.
Deacon Jon Dal Din, Director of Interfaith for the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Westminster, also spoke of the many events that have been enjoyed at Neasden Temple by people of all faiths.
Yann Dubosc, Mayor of Bussy-Saint-Georges, an eastern suburb of Paris where a BAPS mandir is being constructed, came specially from Paris to be a part of the event. He shared: “Through BAPS, I discovered the wisdom and values of Hinduism, such as mutual respect regardless of age or race, and service to society, as exemplified by your commendable actions during Covid and at the beginning of the war in Ukraine.” He also shared his appreciation of the “dialogue by BAPS with other communities to preserve and promote harmony” in the region.
David Gold, Director of External Affairs and Public Policy at Royal Mail, praised Neasden Temple as a global architectural icon and a beacon of diversity and openness. “This is a place that opens its doors and opens its heart to all of us regardless of our faith or whether we have no faith at all,” he commented, reiterating why the Mandir had been featured in the Royal Mail’s ‘Diversity & Community’ Coronation stamp, one of four new stamps in a set marking the ‘The New Reign’ of His Majesty King Charles III.
Andrew Davidson, the stamps’ artist, and Ian Chilvers, design consultant at Atelier Works, joined David Gold and Yogvivekdas Swami in presenting an enlarged copy of the stamp to His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.
In his blessings, Mahant Swami Maharaj underscored the values of faith, service and harmony, reflecting on the teachings of His Holiness Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj in selflessly serving others for the greater good of the world. “They didn’t just say this; they lived it, every second of their lives,” he added.
Yogvivekdas Swami, Head Swami of BAPS in UK & Europe, concluded: “Together we can build bridges, we can foster understanding, and we can pave the way for a better, brighter future of global harmony.”
Reflecting on the significance of the evening after the programme, Harriet Crabtree, Executive Director of the Interfaith Network for the UK, said, “When you’re in the presence of a holy person [His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj] and leader with a powerful commitment to unity and bringing people together, it’s a very remarkable experience.”
Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive of The Felix Project, also shared her impressions: “Being at an event like this is such a humbling reminder of what can be achieved when communities come together. We’ve loved the partnership that The Felix Project has always had with Neasden Temple.”

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