Dr S. Jaishankar, the External Affairs Minister of India, and his wife Kyoko Jaishankar, visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London – popularly known as Neasden Temple – on Diwali to celebrate the Festival of Lights with British Hindus and the British Indian diaspora.
Dr Jaishankar was traditionally welcomed by senior swamis and trustees of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS). Dr Jaishankar and his wife then proceeded on a brief tour of the Mandir, spending several minutes absorbing its peace and intricate architecture while also learning about the contributions of the Mandir and wider fellowship to British society.
The couple also performed the abhishek of Shri Nilkanth Varni Maharaj, the teenage form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, before addressing the assembly in the prayer hall.
Dr Jaishankar drew upon these contributions and commented, “A large part of the image of India is what happens in India, but a large part of it is what each one of you [members of the Indian diaspora] does every day – in your work, in your living, in your neighbourhood, and in your activities.
“The Indian community abroad is our real strength, so once again, I thank you all for everything that you do every day. That is what really defines India. I am blessed that I am with you here today.”
The BAPS Mandir in London was the first traditional Hindu temple outside of India and is the largest in Europe. It has served as a radiant embodiment of India’s values in the heart of the UK for almost 30 years. Through spiritual teachings, vibrant cultural celebrations and the hard-working ethos of its congregation, the temple reflects the richness and diversity of India’s heritage.
Sanjay Kara, a trustee for BAPS in the UK, shared: “It was an honour to have the External Affairs Minister join British Hindus and our local community to celebrate Diwali here at the Mandir. This mandir reflects shared values of the United Kingdom and India through its spirit of volunteerism and community service. On this auspicious occasion, we offer our heartfelt prayers that he continues to serve India with fortitude and righteousness.”
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) is an international community-based Hindu fellowship affiliated to the United Nations, caring for individuals, families and societies through its more than one million members, 80,000 volunteers and 5,025 centres.
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Under the spiritual leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, BAPS strives to build a righteous, peaceful and harmonious community that is spiritually elevated and free of addictions and violence.
In the UK, BAPS is respected as one of the largest and most active Hindu communities in the country. It is particularly known for its multifarious community outreach activities and the internationally acclaimed BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London – popularly known as ‘Neasden Temple’.
*Info: Neasden Temple