BAPS New Zealand warmly welcomed the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rt. Hon. Chris Hipkins, at the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Taitā, Lower Hutt, Wellington. The Prime Minister was welcomed and honored in a traditional Hindu manner by BAPS children with a kumkum chandlo, nadachdadi, and a garland.
The children also enthusiastically waved the New Zealand and Indian flags, as symbols of harmony and shared love, to welcome the prime minister into the assembly. The prime minister had darshan of Shri Akshar-Purshottam Maharaj and was informed about Mahant Swami Maharaj, the current spiritual leader of BAPS.
All present in the assembly paid homage to the victims of Cyclone Gabrielle and offered prayers for those affected by the disaster.
After viewing a video of the many activities carried out by BAPS New Zealand, the prime minister was felicitated on his recent appointment as the 41st Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Addressing the assembly, Prime Minister Hipkins, "I've been the prime minister for just over eight weeks now. During that time, we have faced some extraordinary challenges as a country. And what we have seen is communities rallying around and supporting each other. So, I acknowledge the contribution that BAPS has made in that regard in supporting our communities, making sure that they are fed, making sure that they get what they need to get through very challenging times. I am so proud to live in a country where people are free and able to celebrate who they are, to worship as they choose to in a way that is free, where they are not discriminated against."
The prime minister also reminisced about his visit to the Shilayanas Vidhi (ground-breaking ceremony) of the new BAPS Mandir, set to be built in the Lower Hutt suburb of Naenae, Wellington, and was pleased to hear about its progress.