This was UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fifth visit to the Temple. Johnson was greeted in a traditional Hindu manner with auspicious marks of welcome and goodwill before being taken on a brief tour of the stone temple complex, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha said in a statement.
London: United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel celebrated the Diwali festival at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – popularly known as ‘Neasden Temple’.
This was UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s fifth visit to the Temple. Johnson was greeted in a traditional Hindu manner with auspicious marks of welcome and goodwill before being taken on a brief tour of the stone temple complex, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha said in a statement.
Patel was similarly welcomed upon her arrival at the temple earlier and joined the UK Prime Minister to offer a fruit basket at the central shrine of the mandir’s inner sanctum, where they spent several minutes absorbing the peace and intricate architecture.
Thereafter, the distinguished guests proceeded to view some exhibits summarising Neasden Temple’s nationwide Covid-19 relief efforts – an initiative inspired by Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS).
The global Hindu leader had issued a call in March 2020 for all BAPS volunteers to serve the elderly, needy and vulnerable in local communities, and to ensure that everyone remained informed, safe and supported throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
They later met some of these volunteers, including keyworkers keeping the nation safe and mobile, men and women who prepared and delivered food to the vulnerable, and the team keeping communities connected and informed through online services.
Sharing some of his impressions from his visit, Johnson said: “What His Holiness [Pramukh Swami Maharaj] has contributed to the United Kingdom has been incalculable. I see it here today at the Neasden Temple. I have been here many times, but I don’t think I have ever been here at a time when the Neasden Temple has been so central to the life of the whole of the London community.”
Patel said: “The Temple has been at the forefront of every single activity in the local community, but also at a time of a national crisis which, of course, the pandemic was.”
Before departing the Temple, UK Home Secretary Patel further spoke about the “incredible work” of the Mandir, which UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson lauded as “an absolutely perfect representation of community spirit in action”.
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Sanjay Kara, a BAPS trustee in the UK, said, “It was an honour to have the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary join the local community of British Hindus to celebrate Diwali at Neasden Temple. We offer our prayers that they can serve the public ably and look forward to working with them in support of our great nation.”
first published:Nov. 8, 2021, 9:07 a.m.